2 Officers Cleared in Fatal STL Shooting

The prosecutor for St. Louis said Thursday she won’t be charging two officers in the fatal shooting of a black 18-year-old last year, concluding that no evidence disproves claims by police that it was self-defense.

Calling Mansur Ball-Bey’s August 2015 death “a tragedy in every aspect of the word,” Circuit Attorney Jennifer Joyce said the officers and a witness reported that an armed Ball-Bey ran from a home during a drug and gun raid. Both officers, who are white, have said they fired at Ball-Bey at the same time after he pointed a gun at one of them, though one officer missed, according to Joyce.

Joyce, whose office investigated the shooting separately from an internal police probe, said Ball-Bey’s loaded gun was found at the scene, with his palm print on the ammunition clip.

A local medical examiner concluded that Ball-Bey sustained a severed spinal cord, and a bullet pierced his heart.

“One of the biggest challenges we face in this case is that there is no independent, credible witness we can put in front of a grand jury or regular jury who contradicts police statements,” Joyce said in a statement. “None of the other witnesses had a clear view at the moment when Ball-Bey was shot.”

The officers declined to speak to prosecutors.

Jermaine Wooten, an attorney for Ball-Bey’s family, has questioned the police account that Ball-Bey was armed. Wooten said Thursday before Joyce’s announcement that he anticipated the officers would not be prosecuted, saying he has “been down this road before” with area police being cleared in fatal shootings involving blacks.

Ball-Bey’s death came a little more than a year after a white police officer, Darren Wilson, shot and killed Michael Brown, a black, unarmed 18-year-old, in nearby Ferguson, Missouri. Brown’s August 2014 shooting sparked waves of protests, including some that turned violent, and was a catalyst for the national Black Lives Matter movement and debate over police treatment of minorities.

A St. Louis County grand jury and the U.S. Department of Justice ultimately cleared Wilson, who resigned in November 2014.