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Police identify man shot and killed in stolen car by injured St. Louis officer

Police identify man shot and killed in stolen car by injured St. Louis officer

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ST. LOUIS • Police have identified a man fatally shot by a St. Louis police officer who was injured while investigating a stolen SUV on Wednesday afternoon.

Demario Bass, 29, was shot in the chest by the police officer and died at a hospital, police said.

The officer, 31, was injured when Bass sped backward in the stolen SUV, trapping the officer between the open door and body of the SUV, police said. He suffered a head injury that Chief John Hayden described Wednesday as “very significant.” The officer, who has been a member of the force for two years, was in fair condition at a hospital with a cut to his head and trauma to his mouth, police said in an update Thursday.

Bass lived in the 8500 block of Mora Lane in St. Louis, a little over a mile from the gas station at Goodfellow Boulevard and Lillian Avenue where he was killed. A woman at his home Thursday said she was Bass’ mother but was too distraught to speak to a reporter.

In a more detailed account of what happened Wednesday, the police department said Thursday that a license plate reader had seen a plate belonging to a stolen 2004 Hyundai Santa Fe heading south on Goodfellow from West Florissant Avenue at 12:49 p.m.

The description of the vehicle was broadcast, and two officers in a patrol car spotted the maroon SUV at the BP station at 5003 North Goodfellow within minutes, police said. The stolen SUV was parked at the gas pumps facing south. The officers pulled in front of the vehicle.

Officer injured, suspect in stolen car killed in encounter at St. Louis gas station

A St. Louis police officer collects a first aid kit found with other evidence at the scene of an officer-involved shooting at a BP gas station at Goodfellow Boulevard and Lillian Avenue on Wednesday, Dec. 12, 2018. A license plate reader indicated that a maroon SUV at right was stolen when police officers approached the vehicle. Photo by Robert Cohen, rcohen@post-dispatch.com

One officer got out and walked to the SUV, spotting Bass inside, the department said. The officer opened the car door to arrest Bass.

“The suspect suddenly put the stolen vehicle into reverse and accelerated backwards at a high rate of speed,” the department said in a statement.

The officer became lodged between the open door and the SUV, the statement said. The SUV moved backward and crashed into a canopy support, causing the door to close on the officer and throwing him at least partly into the vehicle.

The SUV rolled forward and came to a stop, and the officer fell backward to the ground.

The officer fired at least one time during the encounter, hitting Bass in the chest, the department said. Hayden said Wednesday that it wasn’t immediately clear when the officer fired, but that video captured the incident and that will be part of the investigation.

The other officer did not fire his weapon and was not hurt, Hayden said.

The gas station is just north of Interstate 70 in the Walnut Park West neighborhood. A man who works nearby told the Post-Dispatch he was on the lot at the time of the shooting.

Ralston Jannice, 49, said he watched as an officer approached the maroon SUV, telling the man inside not to move.

“The guy moved,” Jannice said. He was moving inside the vehicle and at the same time it began moving backward until it crashed. Jannice didn’t see the officer caught by the door or injured.

He heard gunshots after the crash. Jannice believes he heard four, though another witness thought he’d heard two. They were among people on the parking lot who dove for cover, afraid they’d be hit.

Then he heard the injured officer, a gash on his head, yelling.

“Hang on man, don’t die, don’t die,” the officer was yelling, Jannice said. Then he shouted for an ambulance.

A video posted to social media appears to show the aftermath of the shooting. Two officers, one with blood coming from an apparent head wound, are seen kneeling and bending over a man on the ground near a maroon SUV. They appear to be putting bandages on his chest.

Reporters gathered outside Barnes-Jewish Hospital Wednesday afternoon to hear from Hayden. As they waited, a visibly upset woman arrived at the emergency room.

“The police shot my (expletive) baby!” she yelled. She left without speaking to reporters.

A large police presence on Wednesday afternoon had the gas station at Goodfellow and Lillian Avenue surrounded with crime scene tape. They photographed a damaged maroon SUV that was up against a gas pump. They went in and out of the gas station building, and examined evidence including blood on the ground near the gas pumps. They also picked up what appeared to be a medical kit.

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