Questions raised about fatal police shooting in St. Louis

ST. LOUIS (AP) — Relatives of a 16-year-old who was fatally shot by St. Louis detectives are disputing the police account of the incident.

Darryl Ross was shot Sunday night. Two detectives said they spotted several people with guns at a gas station and pulled onto the lot. The police report said the detectives — in plain clothes but wearing bulletproof vests labeled “POLICE” — announced themselves as officers.

Police said Ross tried to run but tripped and dropped a pistol. When he reached for the weapon, the detectives shot him, police said.

But Ross’ mother, Jukita Johnson, said she was with her son at the gas station, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported. She disputed a police account that the detectives announced themselves as officers. Ross’ uncle, Johnny Parker, said he thinks Ross ran because the officers did not announce themselves and the incident was in an area where gang shootings often occur.

Johnson also denied that her son ever pulled out a gun, saying he had a weapon but it was in his waistband.

“They killed my baby, they could have grabbed him … he never pulled (the gun) out,” Johnson said.

In August, St. Louis Mayor Tishaura Jones signed legislation creating a Division of Civilian Oversight, an independent agency to investigate allegations of police misconduct and use of force incidents. Under the new law, a Force Investigation Unit under the direction of the circuit attorney investigates use-of-force incidents.

“Losing our youth to violence shows how our system has failed them time and time again,” Jones said in a statement. “This young man’s death breaks my heart, both as a mayor and as a mother of a teenage son.”

Ross was Black. One of the officers involved was Black, and one was white.

The St. Louis region drew national scrutiny regarding the shootings of young Black men by police after the killing of 18-year-old Michael Brown in the St. Louis County town of Ferguson, Missouri, in August 2014. Brown, who was unarmed, was shot and killed in a street confrontation with Officer Darren Wilson. Wilson was cleared of wrongdoing, but the shooting led to months of sometimes-violent protests.

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