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Berkeley man gets life plus 40 years in 2019 murder of Officer Michael Langsdorf

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CLAYTON — A Berkeley man convicted in June of murdering a North County Police Cooperative officer in 2019 received a life sentence plus an additional 40 years in prison.

Circuit Judge William Corrigan on Wednesday sentenced Bonette Meeks, 29, for the murder of Officer Michael Langsdorf on June 23, 2019, at Clay’s Wellston Food Market, 6250 Page Boulevard. Jurors found Meeks guilty of second-degree murder, armed criminal action, resisting arrest and unlawful gun possession.

Meeks received a life term for the murder conviction, which is calculated at 30 years. He’ll have to serve a minimum of 85% of that sentence before he’s eligible for parole. He’ll then start a consecutive 30-year term for armed criminal action, which carries a three-year minimum, then two consecutive 5-year terms. It’s ultimately up to the Missouri parole board, but he will likely serve a minimum of 35 to 40 years behind bars with credit for about three years time served.

Langsdorf, 40, had been a police officer for 17 years, most of which he served with the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department.

Michael Langsdorf

Langsdorf

Langsdorf’s encounter with Meeks at the food market began after Meeks tried to cash a business check of more than $6,000 that his cousin’s husband, Kawynn Smith, had found discarded outside a Chesterfield hotel where Smith worked at the time. Smith got a seven-year prison term in July for his role in the incident.

When Langsdorf arrived at the market, he passed Meeks at the front door and pulled him back into the store to ask staff if Meeks was the man who had tried to cash the check, according to testimony and video played at trial.

Meeks testified that as he met Langsdorf at the front door, Langsdorf told him to “come here” but did not identify himself as a police officer. Langsdorf was wearing a ballcap with the letters “NCPC” on the front, a black polo shirt with shield patches on each arm, dark pants and a police duty belt.

A brief tussle began when Langsdorf tried to arrest Meeks and put him in handcuffs.

Cellphone and surveillance video showed Langsdorf trying to pin Meeks down with his body. Meeks pulled a gun while he was on the floor, struck Langsdorf in the forehead with it, then broke free and shot Langsdorf at close range.

Meeks’ trial jury rejected his self-defense claim.

Prosecutors on Wednesday asked for the maximum sentence: two consecutive life sentences plus 17 years. Meeks’ lawyer Paige Bremner asked for the minimum of 10 years for murder plus three for armed criminal action.

Bonette Kymbrelle Meeks

Meeks

Bremner said in court Wednesday that there’s a “glaringly obvious” comparison to be drawn between Meeks’ encounter with Langsdorf and that of George Floyd’s May 2020 death in Minneapolis. If not for Meeks having a gun, she said, he would have become another unarmed Black man killed by police in the St Louis region.

Bremner also said Langsdorf had no probable cause to arrest Meeks, that it was “significant” that Langsdorf had amphetamines in his system that could have influenced his actions that day and that prosecutors never produced evidence of Langsdorf having a prescription for that medication. Bremner also claimed an “obvious bias toward law enforcement in the criminal justice system” that she said fails to protect people, often poor and unhoused, from “overzealous law enforcement.”

“It is not fair and it is wrong,” she said. At trial, Bremner also called Langsdorf a “bully.”

Langsdorf’s parents, daughter and fiancée on Wednesday described their grief, anger and lingering memories of Langsdorf. His father, Jerry Langsdorf, said he feels lonely, empty, heartbroken and still proud of his son. He said he still feels his presence every time he sees his son’s medals and hockey memorabilia throughout his home and every time he sees the 2013 Corvette parked in the garage that was to be his someday.

“I see and feel Michael daily, in everything I do,” his father said. “He is everywhere I am. He is constantly there, though not in the way I would want him to be.”

Langsdorf’s fiancée, Kim Haag, recalled Langsdorf’s proposal in a restaurant three weeks before he was killed and how their wedding plans in those weeks instantly turned into funeral arrangements for the man with whom she believed she would spend the rest of her life.

“We were robbed of our future by the actions of one man, a stranger and a person who showed absolutely no remorse for his actions,” Haag said.

She said Langsdorf was a “superhero” to his family and to the people he swore an oath to protect. She recalled the story of Langsdorf rescuing a boy from a burning building in St. Louis years ago, and how that boy — now a grown man — came to Langsdorf’s funeral to pay respects “to the man who saved his life.”

“He was more than just my fiancé,” she said. “More than the name on court documents and on the news stories. He was a protector by nature. His presence alone helped us feel safe.”

After Wednesday’s hearing, St. Louis County Prosecutor Wesley Bell and his staff spoke with Langsdorf’s family in another courtroom to explain the sentence and some details of the hearing.

A North County Cooperative Officer consoled Langsdorf’s family in the courtroom, and a priest led relatives and supporters in reciting the Lord’s Prayer.

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