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Ruling halts St. Louis judge's removal of Circuit Attorney's Office from police shooting case

Ruling halts St. Louis judge's removal of Circuit Attorney's Office from police shooting case

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ST. LOUIS • A Missouri appeals court has temporarily halted a judge’s order last week disqualifying the Circuit Attorney’s Office from prosecuting a man shot by police last year.

The Eastern District Court of Appeals issued on Friday a preliminary order blocking St. Louis Circuit Judge Timothy Boyer’s ruling last week to remove Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner’s office from pursuing an assault case against Wendell Davis and instead appoint a special prosecutor.

Davis, 27, was shot in the back and paralyzed by a city officer in August during an arrest attempt in the Jeff-Vander-Lou neighborhood. He was released on bail last week and ordered to stay with family.

An attorney for “AF,” the officer who shot Davis, sought to have Gardner’s office disqualified from the case over fear that the officer’s testimony in the criminal case could be used in an investigation of his decision to use force. Some city officers have resisted testifying in police shooting cases, their attorney has claimed, because of a backlog caused by prosecutors’ failure to finish their investigations.

Boyer disqualified Gardner’s office to avoid what he described as “an appearance of impropriety” as prosecutors simultaneously pursue the assault case and investigate whether the shooting of Davis was justified.

Gardner’s office appealed Boyer’s order, arguing that the judge’s order usurped Gardner’s authority to prosecute Davis and that the officer, both a victim and witness in the case, has no standing to seek Gardner’s removal.

The appellate court ruling gives Boyer until Feb. 13 to file a response.

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