Less than four miles from where Michael Brown was fatally shot by police in Ferguson, another Black man has been shot and killed at the hands of an officer. Kajieme Powell, 25, was slain in St. Louis, Missouri on August 19 after police responded to a call that he had stolen snacks from a local convenience store..
What’s absolutely awful about his death is that the entire scenario was caught on camera. (Click if you would like to view, but be warned the images are extremely graphic. A man is literally murdered on camera). The Metropolitan Police Department of St. Louis actually released the video to the public, believing that the incriminating footage would clear their names of any wrongdoing. However, many news outlets are reporting that the video conflicts what the initial police account claimed.
At first, the St. Louis Police Chief Sam Dotson said that Powell had raised his knife at the officers and charged toward them with “an overhead grip” and was only a few feet away from them at the time they opened fire. “The officers did what I think you or I would do, they protected their life in that situation,” Dotson said. But the video shows the police claims to be false (he’s close, but more than a few feet away).
In the video you can see the store owner, standing outside, looking on as Powell paces back and forth. Powell had stolen two canned drinks and a packet of pastries from a local store and he was pacing with his stolen cans on the ground, almost gloating that he’d gotten away with it. You can even head the man who recorded the video laughing, saying, “He just straight put them on the ground, like, ‘I dare somebody to touch them.'” At that moment, it becomes clear that Powell may not have been mentally stable.
When the police officers pulled up, they immediately draw their guns on Powell. Powell can be heard screaming to the police, “Shoot me already!” It was obvious that Powell was acting erratically by encouraging the officers to shoot him. It was at this point the officers opened fire on Powell, hitting him with a number of bullets. The man behind the camera can be heard saying, “Oh my God! They just killed him. They just killed this man. They’re putting him in cuffs and he’s dead…”
Unlike Mike Brown, who’s hands were up at the time of his death, Powell encouraged the officers to take action and they did. Does that means that he deserved to die?
Later in the video, the man behind the camera laments, “They could have tasered that man.” Shameful as it is, that option would have been the best because even though Powell stole from a convenience store, his life still matters. Dotson told CNN, “Certainly a Taser is an option that’s available to the officers, but Tasers aren’t 100 percent. So you’ve got an individual with a knife who’s moving towards you, not listening to any verbal commands, continues, says, ‘shoot me now, kill me now.’ Tasers aren’t 100 percent. iI that Taser misses, that [individual] continues on and hurts an officer. He added, “In a lethal situation, they used lethal force.”
Lethal force. Wow. This is how you justify killing a man in broad daylight for stealing two soft drinks and a pastry. We have got to continue the conversation around our lives having value. Please join us in our #YourLifeMatters movement to spread awareness and help change the dialogue around the value of Black lives.
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