What the media won't tell you about it.
Around 3:35 pm today, another black person's life was snuffed out. Ledarius Donte Williams was shot by Saint Louis Metropolitan Police and died at the hospital. He was 23 years old. As his name becomes another etched onto the wall of black people killed by police, his name will be dragged through the mud by local media outlets. They will talk about his criminal record. They will say that he assaulted two police officers, and that he was sentenced to 14 years in prison connected to the incident. They will tell you everything they can to make you believe that he somehow deserved to be gunned down and killed.
What they have not stated is the initial reason for the stop in the first place. They conveniently glossed over that issue, because black people are not seen as individuals deserving of compassion or empathy. Black felons and ex-convicts are even less worthy of such human emotions. He is simply stated as a known entity to them, as if the knowledge of his existence is simply enough to accost and harass him without committing a crime.
Personally, I have experienced this before. After doing something completely boneheaded and stupid, I was then a known entity to responding officers who used their power to harass and accost me. I wasn't shot or arrested but merely placed against the hood of a car, patted down, and lectured. Not about my future, or how I could be more than the actions I committed, but about endangering the safety of HIS family and the danger I MIGHT have caused to him. I realize now what I did not then: this, like the manner in which Ledarius was pursued then killed, is an abuse of power. It is creating crime, prejudice, and resentment where there previously was none. I had proven to be young and fallible and officers decided to exploit the situation to satisfy their own power trips under the guise of "scaring me straight". It is all based on the pretext of assuming black criminality is a permanent behavioral pattern instead of a momentary lapse of judgement, learned survival mechanism, or undiagnosed mental disorder. For that reason, Ledarius fought for his life and lost today.
On May 27th, 2009, Ledarius was shot by officers on Cherokee Street in South Saint Louis. Williams was already considered a "career criminal" according to the Riverfront Times who initially broke the story. The language in the story denotes that the community had given up on Williams at 17 years old. That is a young age to give up on someone, to write them off as nothing more than a inmate waiting to be arrested. During a stop for a traffic violation, he and another person sprinted away from the officers. He was in possession of a gun. His eye was bandaged and swollen. Even then, as a 17 year old kid, he was "known" to police. The police ordered him to drop the gun as he tried to hand it off to a pedestrian. He then walked down the road with the weapon, allegedly spun around, and was shot in the knee. The article states he was arrested for the crime of armed criminal action, but the charge on MO Case Net and MO Department of Corrections states he was convicted of 2 counts of 2nd Degree Assault against a Law Enforcement Officer. After pleading guilty, he was sentenced to serve two 7 year sentences consecutively, meaning he was supposed to spend 14 years in prison. This sentence started on August 20th of 2009. However, he was somehow released 8 years early from his sentence and MO DOC states his sentence was not finished. MO Case Net or MO DOC has no information about his early release, and the last update to his Case Net docket information says his parole was denied in December of 2009.
It is unknown to me how he was released, the circumstances of his release, or if he was placed on supervised or unsupervised probation. The court records surrounding that situation are either not a part of public records or simply not updated in the public records. It seems that the time of his release was March of 2014, according to the Saint Louis Post-Dispatch. Considering that he was released 8 years early from his sentence and that he did not immediately seek out and start trouble, who are we to assume that he was the "career criminal" he was pigeon-holed as in 2009? Perhaps he was rebuilding a life that he was unable to live before due to his own myopic and dystopian view of his future.
Even more baffling than the circumstances surrounding his death are the latest statements by police, stating the officer rolled around in the mud fighting for the gun with Williams and was covered "literally head to toe". Again, there is no reason stated for the initial pursuit, just that he "grabbed at his waistband and ran when he saw the cops", which could easily mean that he needed to keep his pants up while running. It is also unknown why he would simply run because he saw officers with no prior interaction between them.
Let's assume he did run away from cops, holding onto his waistband and darted down a gangway (similarly to what happened with Vonderrick Myers when he was shot and killed). He was hiding in a bush at this time, and police have not stated a reason for pursuit at this point. He was simply guilty for running away, and given the checkered history with STLPD and young black males, this may be a fight or flight response kicking in as he feared for his life. There was no wrongdoing or probable cause. No 911 calls for suspicious persons, and this was in the middle of broad daylight when the incident occurred. These two officers took it upon themselves to assume wrongdoing and then struggled with the individual for his gun before one of the officers (not explicitly stated which officer) fired 4 times and hit Williams an unknown amount of times.
Let's back up one second, because which officer firing the weapon matters here, and this should be something the officers on scene (who came away uninjured for all the mud rolling they did) should immediately know. This can even be determined by the number of rounds still in the clip of an officer, or whichever weapon was discharged. So why the mystery and doubt about which officer fired? If the officer on the ground fired 4 times, then those shots will be extremely close range, gunshot residue will be all over Williams body, and the number of shots that hit will be easier to guess. If the officer not wrestling with Williams fired, then that puts the officer struggling with the officer in immediate danger of getting hit in the crossfire. The shots would also be at a further distance away and harder to tell how many hit and missed. The mystery isn't necessary, but does cast doubt on the police having a solid narrative within 12 hours of the shooting.
Time to focus on the central aspect of the struggle caused by the apparent clairvoyance of the police officers: The weapon. There are several red flags here with the weapon in question. Perhaps the largest one is that a convicted felon seemed to be possession of a weapon and somehow the police were able to detect it immediately. While it is easy to believe that convicted felons of gun-related incidents are likely to have a gun when released, it is also worthy of noting the very real presence of drop weapons and that cops use them all the time to justify killing people. In addition, the gun was reportedly a Springfield Armory .45-caliber pistol stolen from Alabama in 2013. Which honestly doesn't say much, because it's a fairly common style of gun (and in fact, looks remarkably like it could be an officer's service weapon). "Drop weapons", handy knives and guns collected by officers as a "get out of jail free" card, could have easily been used here to justify Williams death.
According to Ledarius' brother, he was shot by the officer that shot him in 2009. The officers nickname is reportedly "Worm", and was also on the scene at the time. The Post-Dispatch reports that a female officers shot Williams in the leg in 2009, but the RFT reporter who was allegedly on the scene never denoted the officers gender. There is also a picture where only two female officers are present while the majority of officers are male. It is possible that the Post is mistaken on who shot Williams in 2009, and that if "Worm" was indeed the officer that shot him in 2009 then this might have been personal. Of course, the officer has not been officially identified and has been put on paid administrative leave while they concoct a narrative to justify their actions.
Another human lost their life today, and instead of being able to mourn his death and bury him in peace, the Williams family will be in a deeper despair as the media and internet sharpens its teeth to tear into his character flaws and legal record. Black people are not allowed to make mistakes or flaws in order to experience the same level of humanity afforded to white people. Even then, anything that a black person's parents, children, family members, pastor, business partner, or associate does reflect negatively on them as well. Not only does your record have to be squeaky clean, but so do the records of everyone surrounding you. A black felon or ex-con has an extremely small chance at ever rising out of the mediocrity that this current system has set up. It is to be expected from a country that has the highest incarceration rate in the world, and turns a profit taking minorities from the classroom to the prison cell. It turns my stomach to think of what people will use to pick him apart for being human, because being human and black simply isn't good enough.
P.S.- Before anyone says anything, please be aware this is not an endorsement of criminal activity like assault. This is purely looking at the situation at hand and not judging Ledarius by his past. I am analyzing the information in the present, searching the cause as to why another person is dead.
https://www.courts.mo.gov/... (Search Ledarius Williams)
https://web.mo.gov/... (Search Ledarius Williams)
http://www.springfield-armory.com/ (Nearly all the handgun types have a .45 caliber version)