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One year after police shooting of Kajieme Powell, investigation continues

On the first anniversary of the death of Kajieme Powell, St. Louis Circuit Attorney Jennifer Joyce said her office is still investigating whether charges should be filed against the two St. Louis police officers who shot and killed Powell as he allegedly approached them with a knife.

The circuit attorney’s office began an independent review of Powell’s shooting in February after two St. Louis Metropolitan Police investigations concluded that the officers should not be charged.

“We were having difficulty getting witnesses to talk to us, and we were just about to finalize our report … when late last week one of the key witnesses did come in. And after talking to us he said he was going to get some of the other witnesses to come in as well,” Joyce said.

The shooting was caught on video, but Joyce said her office still needs to talk to witnesses.

“Videotape will only show you where the camera is pointing. It doesn’t show you things that happened outside the frame of the camera. And it doesn’t show you what happened before or after the video started,” Joyce said, adding that the investigation “is very, very important to us but it is important to us that we do this properly and thoroughly and independently.  And that’s what Mr. Powell and his family deserves, and that’s what the community deserves and that’s what the police department deserves.”

About 50 protesters marked the anniversary of Powell’s death Wednesday by marching from Kiener Plaza to Carnahan Courthouse, where the circuit attorney’s office is located.

Protesters then called through a bullhorn for Joyce to come out and speak with them. Joyce had earlier invited five protesters to come up to her office at a time, but protest leaders said she should instead come down and talk to them all at once.

“She’s afraid to come out here and address you because she knows she’s wrong,” said one speaker who identified himself as an attorney who represents protesters. “She wants to talk to you five at a time so she can get you upstairs so she can influence you.”

Joyce told St. Louis Public Radio that building security asked her not to come down, “but even more important than the security issue in my mind is the fact that you really can’t have an honest and open and candid conversation under those circumstances. You can have a lot of drama. You can a lot of yelling and screaming. You can have a lot of theater… And that may accomplish some goals but that does not accomplish my goals. My goals are along the lines of communication and understanding.”

Protester Cedric Redmon says bridges of communication need to be built in addition to protests so that lasting criminal justice reform can occur.
Credit Camille Phillips | St. Louis Public Radio
Protester Cedric Redmon says bridges of communication need to be built in addition to protests so that lasting criminal justice reform can occur.

 At least one protester agreed with Joyce that there is a place for dialogue.

While acknowledging that more trust needs to be built up before protesters would be comfortable meeting Joyce in a small group, Cedric Redmon said that protests have “kinda gotten a little bit redundant.”  

“I’m one of those types of guys that tries to see between the lines, tries to create a bridge of communication between people that can actually get things accomplished,” said Redmon, who goes by the handle C-Sharp. “If we really want true reform and we truly want things to change it’s got to be a business deal almost—how can we help you? Well this is what you can do to help us.” 

While demonstrating on the courthouse steps, protesters learned of a new fatal police shooting that took place around noon. They then left with plans to meet at the scene of the shooting.

Follow Camille Phillips on Twitter: @cmpcamille.