ST. LOUIS — A St. Louis Metropolitan Police Officer was charged with assault Thursday, more than a year after police said he shot an unarmed, fleeing man suspected in a carjacking.
Matthew EerNisse, a 26-year-old who had two years on the police force at the time of the incident, was charged with first-degree assault in connection with the Aug. 27, 2018 shooting.
"After a lengthy and thorough investigation by the Department’s Force Investigation Unit and Internal Affairs Division, it was determined that a warrant application was the appropriate course of action," a statement from a police spokesman said.
Police said an officer patrolling near Kingshighway and Natural Bridge in the early morning hours of Aug. 27 spotted a 2010 Mustang that was reported stolen in a carjacking. When the officer tried to pull the car over, the driver sped off. The officer called for support, at which time EerNisse joined the chase.
The driver lost was but lost control of the car and jumped out 1100 block of Clara and ran from EerNisse. EerNisse continued to chase the man and eventually shot him in the back multiple times in the 5500 block of Chamberlain Avenue.
At the time of the shooting, Police Chief John Hayden said the suspect reached for his waistband, but charging documents said EerNisse shot at the man while the man was trying to climb a gate in the gangway. The charging documents said EerNisse continued to shoot at the man after he got over the gate, which was boarded up with plywood. Documents said the plywood would make it "impossible for EerNisse to see into the gangway while firing" at the man.
The charging documents said police never found a gun on or near the man, and he was never seen with a gun during the incident.
An investigation found the man was shot multiple times in the back.
In the charging documents, police said they believed EerNisse "is a danger to the victim and the community."
The full statement from Police Spokesman Sergeant Keith W. Barrett is as follows:
After a lengthy and thorough investigation by the Department’s Force Investigation Unit and Internal Affairs Division, it was determined that a warrant application was the appropriate course of action. This process ensures that officer-involved shooting investigations are conducted in a competent manner which promotes transparency, integrity and the professional standards to which we hold ourselves. Matthew EerNisse has been charged with Assault 1st relative to the below incident.
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