The St. Louis Circuit Attorney’s office announced Friday evening it plans to conduct an independent investigation alongside the police investigation into the officer-involved fatal shooting of 18-year-old Mansur Ball-Bey.
Wednesday afternoon, St. Louis Police said, they were serving a search warrant at the home of Ball-Bey’s aunt when they were met with two armed male suspects, one of whom was Ball-Bey. Police said when they ordered the men to lower their weapons, Ball-Bey raised his gun.
The circuit attorney’s announcement follows the release of details from Ball-Bey’s autopsy report, which concluded his fatal wound was caused by one bullet that entered through his back and pierced his heart. According to police, a total of four shots were fired -- one officer fired three times, the other once.
St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that police investigators claim to have found fingerprints and DNA on the gun Ball-Bey allegedly pointed. St. Louis Police Chief Sam Dotson told the Post-Dispatch that "just because he was shot in the back doesn't mean he was running away."
During the press conference, St. Louis Circuit Attorney Jennifer Joyce urged the city to remain peaceful during this time, and reiterated the her job duties.
“I don’t work for the police chief. I don’t work for the mayor. We work with the police every day but we also prosecute them,” she said.
The investigation of Ball-Bey’s death will be conducted independently from that of the St. Louis Police Department. Witnesses will be interviewed separately. When asked if the interviews would be shared with the police, Joyce said she does not know of the protocol, but would be willing to cooperate with police.
St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay recently picked seven people to be part of the St. Louis civilian oversight board. The board is expected to review and investigate complaints of police misconduct in St. Louis city.
Joyce has been at the center of multiple protests, including one that took place at her home. The demonstrations followed Joyce’s decision to not prosecute the officer who fatally shot 18-year-old VonDerrit Myers last October. Joyce says she welcomes the community to meet with her, but also said during the meeting that she has had a difficult time getting the activist community to cooperate with her, noting that it took months to get a key eyewitness in Kajieme Powell’s case to talk to her because “protesters told him not to.”
Joyce's office is still investigating the case of Powell, who was fatally shot by St. Louis Police last August.
“We are completely separate from the police department. We are completely different,” Joyce told media. “We all want the same thing, so let’s work together on this.”
Standing by Joyce’s side at the press conference was Adolphus Pruitt, president of the St. Louis chapter of the NAACP.
“It’s extremely important we have a second set of eyes and it’s important that we get it right,” said Pruitt. “We got to get it right this time in St. Louis.”
Pruitt went on to advocate for police body cameras and to support the dual investigation, adding that at some point, the community will need to "rebuild trust."
Joyce did not estimate how long the investigation would last, but said it needed to be done quickly. "There are a lot of people in this community concerned about this case,” she said.
This story is published as part of a partnership between The St. Louis American and The Huffington Post.