Police officials from St. Louis County and Ballwin, along with local elected officials, discuss the details of the shooting of a Ballwin police officer Friday afternoon. Jason Hancock The Kansas City Star
Police officials from St. Louis County and Ballwin, along with local elected officials, discuss the details of the shooting of a Ballwin police officer Friday afternoon. Jason Hancock The Kansas City Star

State

In Ferguson, the pain lingers as a new shooting nearby draws attention

By Jason Hancock

jhancock@kcstar.com

July 08, 2016 7:36 PM

FERGUSON, Mo.

Two years after Michael Brown was shot and killed by a police officer, the emotions are still fresh for Tasha Frazier.

She can still remember the tear gas and the looters and seeing her town on TV being portrayed as a war zone night after night.

And two years later, Frazier said the deaths of Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge, La., and Philando Castile in the suburbs of the Twin Cities in Minnesota, both at the hands of police, have pulled the scab from the wound.

“Sometimes it feels like we haven’t made any progress,” she said Friday morning while waiting for a bus a few blocks from where Brown was killed in 2014.

Ferguson became the focal point for debate about police conduct in the black community. And hours after a gunman in Dallas took the lives of five police officers Thursday night, the St. Louis area once again garnered headlines when an officer making a routine traffic stop 30 minutes south of Ferguson was shot in the back, leaving him in critical but stable condition.

“He’s fighting for his life right now,” said Kevin Scott, police chief in Ballwin, the south St. Louis County suburb where the officer was shot Friday morning.

“Make no mistake,” added St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar at a news conference Friday afternoon, “we believe during this investigation the Ballwin officer was ambushed.”

Police wouldn’t speculate on the Ballwin shooter’s motive, saying it was too early in the investigation to know whether there was any connection to the shootings in Louisiana, Minnesota and Dallas.

“I’m not going to try to get into his head,” Belmar said. “I’m not going to give him a motive, because I don’t know what that motive might have been.”

A police officer in Georgia also was shot Friday morning while responding to a call. Media reports indicated that the officer’s injuries weren’t considered life threatening.

And in Tennessee on Thursday, one woman was killed and three people were injured in a shooting that also targeted officers. The suspect, accused of firing his gun at cars and police, told authorities he was angry about police violence against African-Americans. An officer was one of the injured.

Around 11 a.m. Friday in Ballwin, an officer stopped a blue Ford Taurus for speeding. As he was walking back to his patrol car, three shots were fired, hitting the officer with one bullet in the neck, police said. He was taken to a nearby hospital by officers after a witness called 911.

The shooter fled the scene but was apprehended nearby by several officers from other police departments.

A semiautomatic handgun was recovered, according to St. Louis County police, who took over the investigation.

Antonio Taylor, 31, was charged with shooting the Ballwin officer. His last known addresses are in south St. Louis. Taylor’s record includes auto theft in Oklahoma, followed by a weapons violation in California while on probation. He served time in prison and was released in March 2013.

Sen. Eric Schmitt represents Ballwin in the Missouri General Assembly and lives just 10 minutes from where the shooting took place. For an affluent community known for its safe streets and low crime, an officer shot during a routine traffic stop “is just shocking. Shocking and sad.”

“On a routine day at work, he was ambushed,” Schmitt said. “So close to home, we have an individual sworn to protect and serve our community ambushed like this. It’s just so very sad.”

On the same day the Ballwin officer was shot, and after the Louisiana and Minnesota shootings once again focused the nation’s attention on police conduct, Gov. Jay Nixon signed legislation limiting access to some footage from police body cameras.

Nixon, a Democrat, offered no comment on the legislation, announcing his signature along with a handful of signatures and vetoes Friday afternoon.

Under the bill, public access to police body and dashboard camera footage will be blocked until an investigation is complete. Yet only video taken in public spaces will be public. Any footage taken in private places, such as a person’s home, will remain closed.

Since Brown’s shooting in Ferguson, some have pushed for lawmakers to make police body cameras mandatory. While there has been little movement legislatively on that idea, proponents of limiting public access to the footage argue it could motivate skeptical police departments to adopt the technology.

Back in Ferguson on Friday morning, it was a much different scene from the looting and fires that followed the announcement in 2014 that the officer who shot Michael Brown would face no charges.

Signs of revival in the city’s historic downtown were evident, and many of the businesses that suffered damage across town on West Florissant are once again open.

But the scars from the 2014 violence remain — from the vacant lot that once housed a QuikTrip convenience store before it was burned to the ground and became the epicenter of protests to the shuttered barbecue restaurant whose windows remain boarded up from the 2014 violence.

Just down the street from the city’s police station, at a local coffee shop, James Stallings said he’s praying for an end to the violence.

“When is this going to stop?”

Jason Hancock: 573-634-3565, @J_Hancock

Ballwin Police Chief Kevin Scott paused during a news conference Friday 2016 in Ballwin, Mo. A suburban St. Louis police officer was “ambushed” during a traffic stop Friday, injured critically after he was shot at least once from behind as he walked to his patrol car, authorities said. Huy Mach AP
Police investigated Friday in Ballwin, Mo., after a police officer was shot during a confrontation with a motorist he had stopped. Cristina Fletes The Associated Press
1 of 2

Never miss a local story.

Sign up today for a free 30 day free trial of unlimited digital access.