LADUE, Mo. - The attorney for a Ladue police officer who shot a suspected shoplifter outside the Schnucks store in the Ladue Crossing Shopping Center last week called the incident a "terrible accident.” The officer, 37, meant to use her taser and not her firearm, he said.
Attorney Travis Noble called it a case of “weapon confusion.”
The officer sat down with investigators Sunday morning and shared every detail of what happened, Noble said.
Multiple witnesses back up the officer’s story that she got one handcuff onto the suspect but then the suspect then shoved the officer and ran, Noble said.
“The officer gives a command and says, ‘Taser, Taser, Taser,’ (warning that she’s about to use the taser) and discharges what she thought was her taser … and when she got up to her she realized she had been shot,” he said.
The officer immediately removed the handcuff and rendered first aid, Noble said.
The 33-year-old suspected shoplifter remains hospitalized. Meanwhile, the suspect’s grieving mother told she’s still unable to speak and share her version of events with investigators.
There was boisterous scene inside the store as workers tried to keep the woman from leaving with items she didn’t pay for, witnesses said.
She assaulted a worker who tried to help her after she fell in the parking lot before the officer arrived, according to a news release from Schnucks.
St. Louis County police are leading the investigation and still want to hear from another woman who was with the suspect who was shot but ran off when workers tried to stop them from the alleged shoplifting, police said.
Investigators released a surveillance picture of that second woman.
The officer had never used her gun or Taser prior to this, Noble said.
“I cannot even express to you how upset she is. How devastated she is. She knows this is just an absolute, terrible accident,” he said.
The issue of “weapon confusion” was widely recognized in police circles as well as the need for changes in Taser training, use, and—possibly—design.
Charges have yet to be filed. The officer is a 13-year police veteran on paid administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation.