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Man with criminal history charged in police officer's shooting death at Wellston market

Man with criminal history charged in police officer's shooting death at Wellston market


A man with a criminal history in North Carolina was charged Monday in the death of Officer Michael Langsdorf, who was shot Sunday in Wellston as he responded to a call about a bad check at a business.

Bonette Kymbrelle Meeks, 26, of Berkeley, was charged in the death of Langsdorf, an officer with the North County Police Cooperative. Meeks is charged with first-degree murder, armed criminal action, unlawful possession of a weapon and resisting arrest. Meeks is being held without bail at the St. Louis County jail.

Bonette Kymbrelle Meeks

Bonette Kymbrelle Meeks was charged with first-degree murder and other charges in the shooting of Officer Michael Langsdorf. Photo from North County Police Cooperative

Langsdorf encountered Meeks when he went to Clay’s Wellston Food Market Restaurant on Page Avenue about 4:30 p.m. Sunday to investigate a complaint about a customer trying to cash a bad check. About 5 minutes later, police received a call about an officer down.

Law enforcement officials announced the charges Monday morning at a news conference at Beyond Housing, 6506 Wright Way, a community development organization in Pine Lawn.

Police Major Ron Martin of the North County Police Cooperative said Langsdorf confronted Meeks at the market and they struggled near the counter in the store. Surveillance cameras in the store captured what happened. According to a source familiar with the investigation, the confrontation lasted 1 minute, 16 seconds.

At some point in the brief struggle, Langsdorf was on top of Meeks, Martin said. Meeks pulled a gun from his waistband and struck Langsdorf in the side of the head a few times, which caused Langsdorf “to be in kind of a daze and lose his hold” on Meeks, Martin said.

Meeks then stood over Langsdorf while the officer was face down on the ground. Meeks pointed the gun at the back of Langsdorf’s head and fired one shot, Martin said.

Langsdorf was shot in the back of the neck and the bullet traveled through his spinal cord and out through his chest, Martin said. He was pronounced dead at 5:15 p.m. at Barnes-Jewish Hospital. Langsdorf hadn't been wearing a bullet-resistant vest Sunday, but officials say a vest wouldn't have protected him from the neck wound anyway.

“Mr. Meeks was successful in executing a cop yesterday, and a good one,” Martin said.

As Martin recounted the deadly events, he was emotional and his voice quivered at one point. "Mike was a friend of mine," Martin said. He and Langsdorf worked together as young police officers in the Third District of the St. Louis Police Department about 17 years ago.

"And you want to talk about a guy that just liked to be the police, it was in his blood, he wanted to help people," Martin said. "He lost his life over something so minute."

Martin declined to comment about the store clerk who live-streamed the aftermath of the shooting on Facebook but said she cooperated with the investigation.

The chief of the North County Police Cooperative, John Buchannan, said police saw the surveillance video inside the store and the woman’s Facebook post. “We were able to see the passion of the citizens,” the chief said. Buchannan thanked people in the market who tried to help the officer.

Buchannan didn’t criticize the clerk who took the video. He said what she did didn’t appear to slow the time it took for the officer to get help. Buchannan had this advice for anyone who thinks about live-streaming crime scenes in the future: “Hold it and reserve it for law enforcement so we can effectively do our job.”

After shooting the officer, Meeks ran from the store east on Page with the gun in his hand. Martin said Meeks ran into a car on Page and that slowed him a bit, but he kept running until police caught up with him and arrested him.

County prosecutor Wesley Bell wouldn’t say whether his office would seek the death penalty. He has previously said he is opposed to capital punishment, and campaigned on the issue. He has taken the death penalty off the table in several other pending murder cases.

Meeks has no felony criminal history in Missouri, according to court records, but has been in and out of the North Carolina prison system at least four times since 2009. Records provided to the Post-Dispatch by the Wake County, North Carolina, Superior Court reveal several pending and dismissed counts of marijuana possession, cocaine distribution and trespassing. A 2011 charge of robbery with a dangerous weapon was dismissed.

Meeks' local address, according to court papers, is the 8600 block of Haltonia Lane in Berkeley. Meeks most likely arrived in the St. Louis area around January, but police hadn’t had any run-ins with him until Sunday, Martin said. That’s the day he drove an SUV, registered in his name, to the market in Wellston. Meeks bought a plate of soul food from the market clerk, and his mumbling and odd demeanor led workers to think he was on drugs. Then, he tried to pass the bogus check for $6,000, and the store owner summoned police. 

Mayor James McGee of Vinita Park said Langsdorf epitomized what good community policing is all about. Langsdorf would pop in to talk to city employees and see if they needed anything; he would get out of his patrol car to talk with children “as if they were his own,” McGee said.

“God seems to take the good ones and Michael was a good one.”

Joel Currier and Christine Byers of the Post-Dispatch contributed to this story.

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