The family and friends of an unarmed teenager shot by St. Louis police gathered for his funeral Saturday, but closure over the controversial killing is still a long way off.
Police say Mansur Ball-Bey, 18, was running out of a house they were searching for drugs and weapons, then turned and pointed a gun at them. They say police shot him in self-defense, but Ball-Bey kept running — dropping the gun in the back yard and ultimately collapsing in the front yard.
But the police department’s story is starting to fall apart as more medical evidence comes to light.
First, an autopsy showed that Ball-Bey was shot in the back. Police Chief Sam Dotson said this didn’t necessarily prove or disprove the officers’ story. Then last week a medical examiner determined that the bullet severed Ball-Bey’s spine and also punctured his heart, which would have killed him immediately — making it extremely unlikely that he was able to run several yards after being shot.
Police officers frequently defend shootings by claiming that their victims were unstoppable and immune to bullets. Officer Darren Wilson described the unarmed teenager Michael Brown as a “demon” who continued to charge at him through the bullets. In another recent case, an officer fired at Dontre Hamilton, a mentally ill black man, 14 times because he said Hamilton was so unaffected by the gun that he “didn’t flinch” after the first shot.
His family also says Ball-Bey was not at the house the police were searching, but was an innocent bystander at his friend’s house nearby.
Ball-Bey’s shooting occurred on the anniversary of the shooting of Kajieme Powell, also by St. Louis police. Protests over Ball-Bey’s death escalated quickly as police showed up in riot gear, cars were set on fire, and demonstrators were hit with tear gas.
The community commemorated Ball-Bey on Saturday, and a memorial has been set up at the site of his shooting.
The Circuit Attorney’s office has launched an investigation into the incident.
by Aviva Shen, ThinkProgress