St. Louis Police Chief Joe Mokwa fired one officer yesterday and began steps to fire another, reports the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Mokwa said the two were not justified in firing 28 shots into a car, wounding its driver, and narrowly missing his wife and three preschool children. The driver Emanuel Khaafidh, 34, suffered a relatively minor arm wound as he drove away from a traffic stop.
Mokwa said the Mar. 31 violated policy because Khaafidh did not pose a sufficient threat and officers did not make sure their line of fire was clear of innocent people. “I love the men and women in the department, but we’ve got certain standards. These two officers are probably good people who conducted themselves unprofessionally and used poor judgment.”
The incident started after Khaafidh got into a heated argument with an officer who had stopped his car for swerving. Khaafidh was sprayed with pepper spray. He drove off as police were trying to open the doors of his car. One officer was knocked to the pavement and suffered a minor knee injury.
The two officers who ended up shooting said Khaafidh rammed their cars, so they fired out of fear for their safety. He kept driving and finally surrendered. Worsham Caldwell, an attorney for the Khaafidh family, said Mokwa’s actions do “not un-ring the bell. Damage has been done.” He threatened a lawsuit.