ST. LOUIS (AP) — Two St. Louis police officers will not be charged in the fatal shooting of a 19-year-old suspect, after a special prosecutor ruled Tuesday that the officers acted in self-defense.
Isaac Holmes was killed in January 2015 after a stolen Chevrolet Monte Carlo sped away from police and crashed into a wall. Police Chief Sam Dotson said at the time that as the two officers approached the wreckage, Holmes emerged with a submachine gun capable of shooting nearly three dozen rounds of ammunition, and pointed it at one of the officers.
Both officers opened fire, killing Holmes.
The shooting happened at a tumultuous time in the St. Louis region, just five months after 18-year old Michael Brown, who was black and unarmed, was killed by white officer Darren Wilson in Ferguson. It was the fourth fatal shooting of a black crime suspect in the region since Brown's death, and resulted in immediate protests. One of the officers who shot Holmes was white, the other black. Their names were not released.
Attorney Hal Goldsmith was appointed special prosecutor because one of the officers involved in the shooting worked previously in the circuit attorney's office.
"The deadly force the officers used against Isaac Holmes was justified under these facts and circumstances, and under the law," Goldsmith wrote in his report.
A message seeking comment from St. Louis police was not immediately returned.
The shooting happened in a crime-ridden area. Dotson said officers were performing "hot spot" policing in a north St. Louis neighborhood due to increasing gun violence when they saw a red Chevrolet Monte Carlo that had been reported stolen a month earlier. Holmes was a passenger in the car.
After the chase and crash, Holmes emerged with an Intratec-9mm, Goldsmith said. Both officers ordered Holmes to drop the weapon, but Goldsmith wrote that Holmes pointed the semi-automatic pistol at one officer, prompting both officers to open fire.
Ballistic evidence showed that each officer fired four shots. Seven of the eight shots struck Holmes, who died at a hospital.
Goldsmith said the driver of the stolen car confirmed Holmes had the gun in his hand, and a nearby resident heard one of the officers yell, "He's got a gun," just before the officers fired their weapons.