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St. Louis police fatally shoot man they say had gun; relatives doubt official account

St. Louis police fatally shoot man they say had gun; relatives doubt official account


ST. LOUIS • Police on Thursday identified a 19-year-old man fatally shot by police a night earlier as Isaac Holmes of the 4200 block of St. Louis Avenue.

Police say officers shot and killed Holmes as he got out of a stolen red Chevrolet Monte Carlo while holding a gun, but Holmes' relatives say they doubt the police department's account.

"I don't believe it happened the way Chief Dotson proclaimed it to be," said Holmes' uncle, Isidore Brown, 44, of St. Louis. "I've never seen (Holmes) in trouble to the point where a gun is involved. I've never heard of any type of gang involvement or anything of that sort."

Police said the Monte Carlo Holmes was riding in had been reported stolen Dec. 5 in south St. Louis. Police Chief Sam Dotson said officers on patrol in the Kingsway East neighborhood began following the Monte Carlo after they saw the driver make an illegal U-turn about 9:45 p.m. The car sped off and other officers saw it driving in and out of alleys in the area.

The car was being followed by police when it hit a retaining wall near an alley in the area of Marcus and Cottage avenues. When two officers approached the car, Dotson said, the passenger got out holding an Intratec 9mm pistol that had an extended magazine that could hold as many as 30 rounds.

The officers told the man to drop the gun, Dotson said. When he didn’t, the officers opened fire, the chief said. It is not clear if Homes raised or pointed the gun toward the officers.

Holmes was wounded and taken to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

Dotson said the driver of the car, also 19, cooperated with the officers and was taken into custody. Police did not identify the driver Thursday.

The loaded Intratec 9mm seized from Holmes after the shooting was bought in De Soto in 2002, police said Thursday. Homes was not the buyer, and the gun had not been reported stolen. Police said there is no police dashboard camera video of the incident because the squad car of the officers who shot Holmes was not equipped with a camera.

One of the officers is 29, black, and has been on the force for about seven years. The other officer is 35, white, and has been with the department for about eight years. Both of the men in the car were black.

Brian Millikan, the lawyer representing the officers involved in the shooting, said he believes the shooting was justified and that race is not a factor in the case.

"It's not about skin color," Millikan said. "If you point a gun at police, this is likely the end result."

Dotson said the suspect's criminal history included auto theft and burglary. Holmes' only conviction in Missouri court records is a guilty plea in 2013 to a misdemeanor charge of "violating rules of a rapid transit car or bus." He was sentenced to one day in jail, receiving credit for time already served.

The chief said there were witnesses to the shooting, including a woman who lived near where it happened.

Brown, Holmes' uncle, described his nephew as "outgoing" and said he loved basketball and chasing girls. Brown said he thinks the gun police found must have belonged to the driver of the stolen car. He said he thinks the police were too quick to shoot.

"They're gung-ho out here, the police are," Brown said.

Holmes' father, Charles Boyd, 42, said his son recently lost his job of seven to eight months at the Walgreens on Lafayette Avenue in St. Louis. Boyd said his son graduated last year from Clyde C. Miller Academy.

Boyd said a doctor at Barnes said that he was shot several times including twice in the chest.

At the scene of the shooting Wednesday, Terramus Manley, 40, of St. Louis, said he saw it as he was visiting a friend at a nearby apartment.

He said he saw officers following the Monte Carlo, but not at a high speed. When the car stopped, Manley said, police pulled up behind and he heard officers yell “freeze, freeze, freeze, don’t move.”

Manley said the passenger got out, took about two steps and looked as if he was about to run. That’s when the officers fired, he said.

Manley said he didn’t see a gun but that right after the shots ended he heard the officers say “get the gun.”

Other than a few residents standing near the cordoned-off shooting scene, the neighborhood southeast of Kingshighway and Natural Bridge Avenue was quiet just after the shooting.

About an hour later, a few protesters were at the scene chanting “No justice, no peace.”

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Walker Moskop is a data specialist and reporter for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

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