ST. LOUIS – St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner says she feels empowered that the Missouri Supreme Court ruled in her favor, allowing her to investigate both a possible crime and an officer-involved shooting in the same case.
Now she hopes every officer will work with her.
In a case the Missouri Supreme Court didn’t even have to hear, they ruled unanimously Tuesday that Gardner and her office can simultaneously prosecute a criminal defendant and investigate an officer-involved shooting in the same case.
“It signifies to people when you elect an individual they have a duty in the prosecutor’s office, you have to hold everyone accountable,” Gardner said.
The circuit attorney and her team want all officers involved in officer-involved shootings to cooperate with prosecutor investigations, making sure those shootings are justified. She says this case that went to the state supreme court is not a frequent occurrence.
“There’s a lot of good police officers who do good work who we work well with. We don’t talk about that. We talk about the outlier. This is an outlier,” Gardner said.
Brian Millikan, the attorney representing an officer who filed the motion to disqualify Gardner and her team from conducting both jobs, says, “Any officer who is under investigation in a police shooting case will have to make an individual determination whether or not to waive their constitutional rights and testify in the criminal proceeding."
Gardner says investigating officer-involved shootings is the will of the people who elected her and their voices won’t be hushed.
So what does Gardner need or want to get that job done?
“More importantly, cooperation from police,” she said. “Whether a judge or police officer, you can’t stop that; can’t stop statutory authority to investigate these cases.”