When the police try to stop you, whether they are justified or not, the safest thing to do is at least stop and listen. This can be difficult, especially if you know you have a warrant or drugs on you. But running away will only lead to more criminal charges, and in the case of one St. Louis man, it could lead to you being shot.
According to the River Front Times, 30-year old Lamont Dukes was stopped with an friend by a St. Louis police officer doing a “pedestrian check”. Allegedly Duke’s friend had been barred from entering Walgreens so the officer was there to ask them to leave the property. Once outside, however, Duke ran.
The police claim he grabbed his waist band as he was running. According to their report:
“Suspect #1 fled to the east alley of the above address and when the officer entered the alley, he observed that Suspect #1 had stopped running and was in a semi-crouched position while turning toward him and raising his right hand from his waistband. Fearing for his safety, the officer discharged his Department issued firearm, striking Suspect #1.”
Duke was shot four times in his legs and buttocks. When it was all said and done, the officer found out Duke didn’t have a gun at all and fled because he had a warrant for his arrest. For fleeing, he is charged with resisting arrest.
In an alley, it’s not likely anyone but Duke and the officer involved saw what happened. It also isn’t clear how the officer managed to shoot Duke in the butt and back of his legs when he was crouched and turning towards him. But in the world of police work, there are often puzzling questions like this after a shooting.
Resisting arrest or assault on an officer is usually the charge that accompanies otherwise unjustified police shootings or accusations of police brutality. If the “suspect” was resisting or posed a danger to the officer, the officer can feel “justified” in using force to control the situation.
In order for a police officer to use deadly force against a citizen, he has to fear for his life, the life of someone else, or be in pursuit of someone accused of a very serious crime. By “believing” Duke had a weapon, therefore, the officer can be justified in fearing for his life and firing the bullets that wounded him.
When it’s your word against the police, you may feel like no one will believe you. That’s an understandable feeling. Whether you are charged with assault or a drug offense, you need someone on your side advocating on your behalf.