Family of woman shot by police disputes their story

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ST. LOUIS (KTVI) – A is family outraged after a loved one was shot by St. Louis Police, Friday night. That woman, Jennifer Morgan-Tyra, 39, is the wife of a St. Louis City sheriff's deputy and the daughter of a former police officer. Her family said she was hospitalized on life-support Monday night with at least 11 bullet wounds.

She’d also been charged with 2 felony crimes:  assault on a law enforcement officer and armed criminal action. She was shot while actually trying to help police, her family said.

Mike Morgan told a FOX 2 crew how things unfolded in his kitchen in the 4200 block of Chippewa. The home was condemned Monday, with Morgan given 10 days to get out. It remained it substantial disrepair when Morgan reenacted the events of Friday night.

“She had the gun in a downward position,” he said of his sister.

He said a long-time female acquaintance with a record of drug use and prostitution was in his home refusing to leave.  She was threatening him with a screwdriver, he said. He called his sister to help him get the woman to leave. Morgan-Tyra pulled a gun on the woman, he said. Both women called police for help. Two officers responded.

Morgan-Tyra was on the cell phone with her husband while holding the gun in her other hand, Mike Morgan said. The two officers ordered her to drop the weapon. Mike Morgan told her to drop it. So did her husband, he said.

“She had the gun in a downward position.  She’s hesitating,” he recalled.

Police opened fire as she dropped the gun and began raising her hands, he said.

“She would have never pointed a gun at an officer.  She just didn’t drop that gun fast enough,” said Morgan-Tyra’s sister, Rebecca Morgan.  “As she dropped the gun out of her hand they started shooting her… she went to turn … to step out of the way because I guess she’s thinking they could go in the room and get the intruder.  They started shooting her.”

She did not witness the shooting but said the family was a strong “police family”, always supportive of police officers.

She was outraged by the initial police version of what happened: that it appeared only one officer shot Morgan-Tyra only one time when Morgan-Tyra raised her gun toward two officers; that Morgan-Tyra tried to fire her weapon but it misfired.

Still police repeatedly stressed the initial report was only “preliminary” with emphasis on the word “appears” in describing the events.

A police source now confirms at least 7 shots were fired by police; that a bullet was lodged in Morgan-Tyra’s weapon but it was unclear if she fired it.

There was little doubt the officers sensed an imminent threat of great bodily harm to all of those around Morgan-Tyra and were forced to make a split-second decision, police sources said.

Morgan-Tyra’s family conceded it was a tense, confusing scene but felt police were too quick to shoot.

“Had they shot me, oh well – but they shot my sister,” lamented Mike Morgan, who still copes with the effects of brain trauma from a blow to his head at work 7 years ago.

Rebecca Morgan said the initial police account only added to the family’s pain.

“It’s not right they’re making my sister out as some kind of crazy person trying to kill cops,” Rebecca Morgan said.  “I want the truth.  I can’t believe they shot my sister up with all those bullet holes.  Now they’re going to try to sweep it under the carpet…my hearts broken.  Police officers were my heroes, not anymore.”

A police source said the home was a known “flop-house” with keys left outside for people to come and go.

Police said along with the initial police investigation, the Circuit Attorney, and the department’s new Force Investigative Unit, would be following up to see if the shooting was justified.

The two officers involved are on administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigations.