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Man shot and killed by St. Louis police officer during struggle over gun, chief says

Man shot and killed by St. Louis police officer during struggle over gun, chief says

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ST. LOUIS • A St. Louis police officer fatally shot a man during a struggle Thursday night after the man ran from a car, then pulled a gun and refused to drop it, Police Chief John Hayden said.

The dead man was identified Friday as Demetrious Brooks, 34, of St. Charles. A police officer shot Brooks in the 3400 block of Virginia Avenue about 7:45 p.m. Thursday. He died at a hospital.

No officers were injured.

Speaking with reporters Thursday night, Hayden said two officers in a patrol car had stopped a vehicle with two men inside around Grand Boulevard and Gravois Avenue. Hayden said the officers thought the car was suspicious — after seeing the officers' patrol car, the vehicle "immediately left one business parking lot and entered another nearby," police say.

The officers ran a computer check of the vehicle's license plate and found that it wasn't registered. Before they could stop the car, the passenger — Brooks — got out and ran. The driver drove away and has not been found.

An officer ran after Brooks, chasing him to the rear of the 3400 block of Virginia, south of Cherokee Street. Both Brooks and the officer jumped over a fence into a backyard, and Brooks pulled a gun, Hayden said. The two struggled over the gun and the officer told Brooks to drop the weapon, but he refused, Hayden said.

"The officer gives commands to drop the weapon several times," Hayden told reporters.

When Brooks didn't comply, the officer who chased him over the fence shot him in the torso, Hayden said. The officer fired two shots.

Meanwhile, the officer driving the patrol car pulled to the front of the 3400 block of Virginia and got out, the department said. He saw his partner in a struggle with Brooks, and he heard his partner order Brooks to drop the gun before the shooting, police said.

That officer did not fire his weapon, police say.

A witness said he saw the injured man holding his abdomen as he was loaded into an ambulance. Brooks died at a hospital. He lived in the 100 block of Honey Locust Lane in St. Charles, police said.

Hayden said police recovered a loaded Ruger .380-caliber gun that Brooks had. The gun had been reported stolen in Clayton in December, police say.

The officer who shot Brooks is a 33-year-old male officer with about two years at the St. Louis Police Department. The officer with him was a 41-year-old male officer who has been with the department for about three years.

The shooting was in Benton Park West, but the car was stopped at Grand and Gravois near the borders of the Tower Grove South, Tower Grove East and Gravois Park neighborhoods. 

• Crime Tracker: St. Louis city

Hayden said the officers initially went there because their commanders had told them to pay particular attention to an area he said was known for drug sales and robberies. Several businesses around Grand and Gravois have been robbed, Hayden added.

Hayden didn't mention specific cases, but recent crimes in that area include a 13-year-old boy carjacking a woman as she sat in her car Wednesday morning in the 3300 block of Cherokee Street. A confrontation March 17 that started between two women at a grocery store near Grand and Gravois led to a shooting near South Grand and Chippewa Street. And on Jan. 21, a sex shop at Grand and Gravois was robbed at gunpoint, the third time the store had been held up in about a month. 

In explaining why the officers were there and why they chased one man, Hayden said: "As I mentioned, the place was heavy, a lot of drug sales, and there's a lot of robberies over there. And so the officers were doing due diligence in trying to make a vehicle check," Hayden said. "A person ran that was making gestures in front of his waistband."

This is the fourth deadly shooting this year involving police in St. Louis. The other shootings were:

• On Jan. 15, a carjacking suspect was killed in a shootout with police in the parking lot of the Schnucks store on Union Boulevard and Natural Bridge Avenue, police say. 

• On Jan. 24, a St. Louis police officer was fatally shot by another officer while they allegedly were playing with a gun at a home in the 700 block of Dover Place in the Carondelet neighborhood, police say.

• On March 25, a St. Louis police officer fatally shot a man who ran from an apartment with pistols and pointed them in the direction of the officer, in the 300 block of Walsh Street, police say.

Elsewhere in the St. Louis metro area, police in O'Fallon, Mo., University City, and near Staunton, Mo., and Leadwood, Mo., have fatally shot people this year. Here is a list of officer-involved shootings in the region in 2019.

Kim Bell of the Post-Dispatch staff contributed to this report.

Officer-involved shootings in the St. Louis area during 2019

These are the incidents of police officer shootings in the St. Louis area during 2019.

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