- Brandon Claxton
- Restless Protesters
- Senate Bill 5 (AKA Revised Mack’s Creek) Signed into Law
- Pending Mike Brown Memorial Weekend
- STL County vs. the DOJ
- Climate of Crime
1. Brandon Claxton
A few evenings ago, STL Metro was responding to a report of a stolen firearm. Upon arrival, officers made contact with sixteen year old Brandon Claxton and a relative of his. Both individuals took off running from the officers. Claxton allegedly had a firearm in his hand at this point and when other officers ran into the area to intercept him, both groups were running toward each other with Claxton pincered in the middle.
Whether or not he pointed the gun is a matter for debate. However, even if he hadn’t intended to shoot the officers on scene, it certainly seems possible that in the process of running, pumping arms back in forth, that he unintentionally pointed the gun at the newly arriving officers. Since policemen are not required to be clairvoyant, this scenario would more than satiate the “reasonable person test” of Graham v. Connor to justify deadly force.
One officer proceeded to shoot Claxton three times resulting in a graze wound to the head, an injury to the arm, and a serious wound to the stomach. Claxton was subsequently hospitalized and is apparently now paralyzed. Claxton’s relative was also taken into custody due to the fact that he was on an ankle bracelet for “Tampering with a Motor Vehicle.” The charge in question is poor Missouri legal-speak for “broke into a car.”
DISCLAIMER: I have been unable to confirm the following pictures as legitimate, because they only seem to appear on a single Twitter account known as the “The Daily Dish.” The pictures are purported to be of Claxton from his Facebook page and if true, their obscurity would seem to be evidence that there has been a concerted effort to hide the following.
It should be noted that Brandon Claxton is the first officer involved shooting in the St. Louis Region since Thaddeus McCarroll was shot by St. Louis County Tactical Officers after Mr. McCarroll rushed officers while wielding a knife and a bible in Jennings.
I mention the last shooting because, the Ferguson Twitter Brigade (FTB) has been struggling to remain relevant lately. It would also seem that as public interest in the “Movement” has waned, so has outside money. The #cutthecheck debate in reference to Ferguson Protesters demanding that local benefactor “MORE” pay them for their efforts has proven to apparently only be the beginning.
More recently, the FTB has found fault with a white female liberal artist in Chicago who opened a gallery exhibit with pieces referencing the Black Lives Matter Movement and specifically one that apparently shows a life size Mike Brown face down as a reenactment of his death.
This indignation is humorous since the artist is apparently on their side, which is a distinction that helps to reveal the true source of their anger. Of particular distaste to the FTB is the fact that this artist has prices listed for various pieces in the gallery. It is unclear if the Mike Brown piece is for sale because no such information has been released and it would undoubtedly be a bigger issue if it was available for purchase. With that said, other Black Lives Matter related art is definitely for sale.
Anyway, as the FTB has struggled with their waning influence and money, this new shooting involving Brandon Claxton resulted in a relatively minor protest at STLMPD Headquarters Downtown. A number of protesters were arrested and have made the usual post-arrest claims. However, of interest, beside the fact that protests have been limited lately, is references amongst the FTB that money for bail is not readily available as it had been in the past.
3.Senate Bill 5
Senate Bill 5 (AKA Mack’s Creek Revised) has been signed into law by Missouri Governor Jay Nixon. Since I have already repeatedly discussed the specifics of the law at length, I will refrain from doing so again. Suffice to say, this is at heart good legislation intended to ultimately kill many of the most out of control North County Municipalities.
The problem is that the default solution to what will replace these municipalities in terms of policing is to replace the Muni police departments with an already deflated St. Louis County Police Department. A fair number of these venues account for some of the most crime ridden areas of North St. Louis County like Pine Lawn, Northwoods, Velda City, Pagedale, Bellefontaine Neighbors, Country Club Hills, Riverview, Moline Acres, etc.
While I have the utmost respect for the vast majority of St. Louis County Police Officers, it is ridiculous to assume that the County could assume policing services for these disappearing venues at current strength while continuing to hemorrhage officers. I even heard that a few weeks ago an entire precinct had to go to emergency status (meaning that only the worst calls/crimes would be responded to) due to only having two patrolman and a lieutenant available. It wasn’t the first time in recent months that I heard such rumors.
Unfortunately, on NPR a few weeks ago, County Executive Steve Stenger addressed this issue specifically by stating that he would not advocate a higher quantity of County Policemen but a higher quality. He also specifically articulated my point above that the County stands ready to assume policing services for any municipalities in STL County who disband their police departments. The notion that such a philosophy is viewed to even be possible at this point is troubling.
Furthermore, Stenger went on to state that he felt that Senate Bill 5 didn’t go far enough and that he would advocate further requirements of police departments throughout the County, justifying ordinances under a “health and wellness” catch-all provision within the County charter. What these new ordinances might entail was not made clear except for one specific example that would require that any city seeking to enter into a policing contract with another, such as Wellston recently deciding to contract out policing services to Vinita Park, would have to obtain County approval and meet minimum standards before such a contract could be enacted. The unstated implication was that the Wellston/Vinita Park situation never would have passed such muster. I would agree with that implication.
- Pending Michael Brown Memorial Weekend
The Michael Brown Memorial Weekend is the next event of consequence for the City of Ferguson marking the one year anniversary of his death and the riots that followed. That weekend will be a fair litmus test for the region. If the weekend in question passes without violence or renewed riotous activity, Ferguson might be out of the woods for the time being. I would imagine that afterward, the only other situations that could possibly result in renewed unrest would be:
- A.) Another officer involved shooting
- B.) The Resignation or Ousting of Mayor Knowles
- C.) The Disbanding of the Police Department/City
- D.) If the St. Louis County DOJ Report is Delayed
Unfortunately, all of the above are possible, though B & C will take time to occur if they come to pass. Given the level of violent crime in the region of late, another officer involved shooting could happen at any time.
5. The DOJ vs. St. Louis County
The DOJ has still not released either of its two pending reports on St. Louis County Police. One of these reports will be in reference to the Ferguson Response, while the other will be in reference to Patterns and Practices in the same vain as the report released on Ferguson back in March. As we near the midway mark for the month of July, it seems likely that both reports will drop simultaneously as the DOJ decided to do so with the Ferguson Patterns and Practices report and the Darren Wilson Shooting Report.
- Climate of Crime
Recent incidents of crime including but certainly not limited to:
-In the Riverview area, two juveniles were robbed at gunpoint by four others who forced them to strip and then shot at them as they fled. One of the juveniles fell and might have been struck but both victims were gone before police arrived on scene, last I heard.
-On Dragonwyk, across from North Hanley Metrolink Station, several apartments were riddled with bullets fired during a drive-by though no one was hurt, fortunately.
-One man suffered a grazing head injury from a gunshot in Pagedale near Rock Road and Pennsylvania.
-Nine people were wounded in shootings in St. Louis City on 7/11/15
-A home invasion led to a homicide in Florissant, and one of the suspects was located attempting to hide with the body of his victim.
-There have been numerous hit-and-run accidents, some of which have been fatal and all are indicative of the hands-off traffic approach being advocated in our Post-Ferguson Society.