St. Louis Circuit Attorney wants leading role in police shooting investigations

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ST. LOUIS, MO — The St. Louis Circuit Attorney wants to have the leading role in investigating police shootings.

Kim Gardner wants to set up a new investigative unit in her office. That is different from the current system of having parallel investigations by the Police Department and the Circuit Attorney.

Police investigators take charge of officer involved shooting scenes, interview witnesses, collect evidence and interview witnesses. The department then begins an investigation, along with a review by the Circuit Attorney's office. The prosecutor now wants a more independent role and to take charge of such investigations.

Gardner was an observer at the St. Louis Aldermanic public safety committee hearing, where police major Mary Warneke testified about the department's "Use of Force" policy. She was asked how the public can trust police to investigate themselves.

"I like to think we have the public's trust.  l know that's not always the case. We can't change evidence. I don't believe we change evidence. We have witness statements. Everything has to make sense in this criminal investigation," said Major Mary Warneke, St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department.

"I'm not saying anyone can investigate themselves. But it is not appropriate protocol of handling these types of cases. That can cause community mistrust in the system," said St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kimberly Gardner.

Gardner said she will ask the Board of Aldermen for the authority to set up her own investigative unit that will authorize her to take charge of investigating police shootings.