A St. Louis police officer is recovering from a gunshot wound to the arm after being fired upon by a fellow officer while responding to a crime scene while off duty. A lawyer for the injured officer says it was the victim’s race that caused him to be the target of the bullet.
Last week, the unnamed officer saw and heard the end of a car chase in his neighborhood, according to KTVI. The officer, who was off-duty at the time, is black.
A stolen car with three suspects in it had crashed in his neighborhood, leading to a short exchange of gunfire between the suspects and the police. Two of those suspects have been arrested; one remains at large.
When the off-duty officer heard the exchange, he equipped his service weapon and left his home to help the officers at the scene. When he approached the officers, he identified himself to two of them, who called him closer after recognizing him.
But a third officer, only identified as a white man who is an eight-year member of the department, fired on him. The unnamed officer has told police investigators that he “feared for his safety” and “did not recognize” the black off-duty officer.
The officers involved are on routine administrative leave while the incident is investigated.
The wounded officer is not giving interviews. His attorney, Rufus J. Tate, made the following statement:
In the police report you have so far, there is absolutely no description of any type of threat he perceived. So we have a real problem with that. But it also presents a bigger problem that has been a national discussion for the past two years — that’s this perception that a black man is automatically feared.
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