Multiple demonstrations have been held to protest the death of Cary Ball Jr., who was shot and killed by St. Louis police officers on April 24. Police report that Ball crashed his car following a high-speed chase, attempted to flee on foot, and refused to drop his handgun when ordered. However, according to protest organizer, Zaki Baruti, multiple witnesses have reported that Ball threw his pistol to the ground and put his hands up in surrender and was shot 25 times in total, including seven times in the back.
One of the witnesses, Cary’s brother, Carlos states, “They looked at the gun on the ground and fired. He never fired. They never fired, until the gun was no where near him.”
Cary Ball was an honor student and labeled an “emerging scholar” at Forest Park Community College. Ball had an average GPA of 3.86 and majored in human services. Ball had served five and a half years in prison total previously: three for armed robbery, and two and a half for a probation violation, but Baturi says that Ball was looking to redeem himself after his release. Carlos Ball suggested that Cary may have been running from police because he was aware that it was illegal for an ex-convict to possess a gun, but mentioned, “The way St. Louis streets work, we’re afraid out here. We’re afraid of the police. We’re afraid of other youth who may want to pull a gun and fire on you. So, sometimes people have guns just to protect themselves, not with the intentions to do a criminal act with it.”
St. Louis Police Chief, Sam Dotson, has stated that the three officers involved in the shooting are on administrative leave pending investigation. This case is reminiscent of several other notorious incidents of St. Louis police brutality, including beatings, pepper sprayings, and tazings during Occupy the Midwest Regional Conference, and accusations of a cop choking a man in a wheelchair, all last year. The recently passed Missouri Proposition A limits the transparency and accountability of the St. Louis Police department by excluding provisions for a Civilian Review Board, a provision inspired by such cases of police brutality.
Cary Ball’s family is being represented by former St. Louis Mayor Freeman Bosley Jr., whose firm is also involved with litigation against the city, claiming jail guards forced inmates to fight each other in “gladiator-style” for their amusement.
Demonstrators, led by Baturi and the Universal African Peoples Organization, are calling for criminal charges against the police officers involved, and are planning further demonstrations.