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Judge considers motion that could change investigations into police-involved shootings

ST. LOUIS – St. Louis City police officers are asking for a special prosecutor in a move that could change the way officer-involved shootings are investigated.

Judge Michael Steltzer is considering a motion to disqualify the St. Louis Circuit Attorney in a high-profile case surrounding the March 31 police chase on Interstate 44.

Suspect John Blanchard reportedly produced a 9mm with an extended clip, then several officers shot him. Blanchard survived and the circuit attorney’s office charged him with five felonies, including felony first-degree assault.

The lawyer for the officers who shot Blanchard said there’s an “appearance of impropriety” because the prosecutor’s office continues investigating the officers, yet asks for their cooperation to prosecute the mon they shot. Attorney Brian Millikin wants the judge to disqualify the circuit attorney’s office from prosecuting Blanchard. He believes the office needs to bring in an independent prosecutor.

Assistant prosecutor Robert Steele, who appeared on behalf of the circuit attorney’s office, said this is political. He said this only became an issue when Kim Gardner was elected as circuit attorney and he’s accused the police department of refusing to turn over evidence.

Judge Steltzer agreed to intervene and make a decision about whether the St. Louis Circuit Attorney’s Office can simultaneously prosecute a suspect while investigating the police officers involved in the same case.

The judge said he will decide soon and he’s asking attorneys on both sides to stop doing anything on the case until he does make a decision.