Community organizers and activists join the family of a Black man shot and killed by a Richmond Heights, Missouri, police officer in August, to demand answers after the release of a video appears to show an officer planting a gun near the victim.
Authorities claim that on August 31, Terry Tillman, 23, was carrying a gun in the St. Louis Galleria Mall against mall policy, and that he ran when officers approached him. Subsequently, a police officer fatally shot Tillman inside of the mall’s parking structure, alleging that he had pointed a gun at a second officer on the scene.
Someone notified a security guard inside of the galleria that a man was “potentially armed,” WUSA9.com reports. The security guard informed the Richmond Heights police, who, in turn, gave chase when Tillman began to run.
At the time, Ben Granda, a spokesperson for the St. Louis County Police Department, which is investigating the shooting, told reporters that it was unclear whether or not Tillman pulled a weapon or opened fire.
“It’s premature to answer that, but those are great questions,” Granda said.
Community organizers and activists believe those questions have been answered with the release of video captured on a cell phone, which appears to show the officer in question planting a weapon, KMOV reports.
St. Louis County police denied those allegations in the following statement:
‘The actions taken by law enforcement on scene, including the securing Mr. Tillman`s weapon after the shooting, were known and have been documented in the investigation. We have and will continue to contact any persons that may have information pertaining to this incident. In some cases, we have been met with resistance and refusal.’
Since the release of the video, activists who protested at the Galleria after police killed Tillman promised at a town hall to return. Tory Russell, Ferguson protester and founder and mission director of the International Black Freedom Alliance, is among those leading the actions, Fox2Now.com reports.
“Now all you did is make more Black people and more white people tired of this racial injustice,” he said. “We’re going back to the Galleria and march and protest and shut your whole facility down.”
Police officers planting guns is far from unheard of. As Colorlines.com reported in 2015, “The Alabama Justice Project uncovered documents that reveal that not only did a group of up to a dozen officers in the Dothan (Alabama) Police Department routinely plant drugs and weapons on young Black men but the district attorney helped cover up the crime.”
New York police officers were accused of planting a gun after fatally shooting 16-year-old Kimani Gray in 2013. According to various reports, the NYPD’s 67th Precinct, the precinct responsible for Gray’s death, may have planted guns on as many as six different people in order to make arrests.
In a more recent incident, retired Baltimore Police sergeant Keith Gladstone pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to violate civil rights after planting a toy gun on a man chased by police in 2014 “to justify an officer running him down with his vehicle,” the Baltimore Sun reports.