For Immediate Release
Prosecutors Release Findings in Crayton West Incident
Surveillance video captures armed robbery, shooting
June 20, 2016, St. Louis, Mo. – In a rare instance when a police shooting is captured on video, Circuit Attorney Jennifer M. Joyce released that video along with her findings today in the investigation into the shooting death of Crayton West on January 17, 2016. Joyce announced that she will not be filing charges against the officer because he acted in self-defense and in defense of others, which is allowed under Missouri law. Prosecutors made their decision after a thorough investigation conducted independently and at the same time as the police probe.
“In a case like this, where a person loses his life, there are no winners,” Circuit Attorney Jennifer M. Joyce said. “A family lost someone very important to them, and I’m so sorry for their loss. I am also thankful that more people were not injured during the course of this incident.”
Multiple witnesses in and around the restaurant say they saw West with a gun. West pointed a gun at the cashier and took money from the cash register, evidenced by video, witness statements and fingerprints on the counter. While trying to leave the restaurant, West was stopped by an officer. West reached to his waistband where witnesses said he had concealed the gun. West raised the gun towards the officer, who was just a few feet from West, and the officer shot West. The interaction between West and the officer took a matter of seconds.
“We have the unusual advantage with this case in that the incident was captured on surveillance video,” said Joyce. “In addition to brave witnesses willing to cooperate and the forensic and physical evidence, it’s clear that the officer in this case was acting to protect himself and those in the restaurant.”
Considering all the available facts, witness statements, physical and forensic evidence and for reasons outlined in the detailed report released today, Missouri laws pertaining to self-defense and defense of others apply to this officer, as they would to any citizen.
Joyce ordered an independent investigation into the shooting of West at the same time police were looking into the incident. The Officer-Involved Shooting Unit (OIS) of the Circuit Attorney’s Office (CAO) responded to the scene shortly after the incident occurred and immediately began reviewing the case for criminal conduct. Joyce ordered an independent investigation into the shooting of West at the same time police were looking into the incident. This simultaneous investigation is now protocol when a police shooting occurs to ensure this process is transparent and independent.