An off-duty African-American police officer was shot Wednesday night by a white colleague in St. Louis, while both officers were attempting to aid first responders after a high-speed car chase ended in a crash, the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department told Yahoo News.
Authorities said the injured officer was in his home when he heard a crash. He decided to help officers who had already arrived at the scene, who had exchanged fire with the suspects. His colleagues initially ordered the unnamed officer, who was also armed, to the ground, but after recognizing him they invited him to approach them.
“At this time, a responding officer (36-year old white male with over 8 years of service) just arriving in the area observed this and fearing for his safety and apparently not recognizing the off-duty officer, discharged a shot, striking the off-duty officer in the arm,” the police department said by email.
The unnamed wounded officer is 38 years old and an 11-year veteran of the department. According to the officer’s lawyer, Rufus Tate Jr., the friendly fire shooting was part of a trend of police violence toward African-American men.
“In the police report, you have so far, there is no description of threat he perceived,” Tate told Fox 2 Now. “So we have a real problem with that. But this has been a national discussion for the past two years. There is this perception that a black man is automatically feared.”
Before the crash, St. Louis police officers were pursuing a stolen white sedan. Two suspects, Deandre T. Chaney and Cortney Smith, both 17, were arrested at the scene. A third suspect escaped.
“Per department policy, seven officers will be placed on administrative leave,” the department said. “The Force Investigative Unit responded,” it added, and an investigation will take place.
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