01/12/2007

Mo. officer shoots suspect after attack

P-1 Expert Tip --
Weapon control can be a life-or-death aspect of officer safety. Inability to control weapons in your environment may lead to situations that require deadly force. . .
Read Weapon Control: Making the best of a bad day


By Marshall White
St. Joseph News-Press

A St. Joseph Police Department officer shot a suspect who allegedly threatened his life after a pre-dawn traffic stop Wednesday.

"The officer was in a fight for his life," said Cmdr. Jim Connors, a police spokesman.

Darrell C. Burns, 29, of St. Joseph, was shot in the lower left leg and his left forearm. He was in stable condition Wednesday night at Heartland Regional Medical Center. He has a uniformed officer at his side, said Capt. Kevin Castle, also a police spokesman.

Patrolman Aaron Beene, a six-year veteran of the force, was treated for numerous head injuries and released. Per departmental procedure, Mr. Beene is on administrative leave with pay pending an internal investigation.

The situation began when Mr. Beene, 31, observed a car with two men make an illegal left turn in the vicinity of Jones Street, somewhere between 18th and 22nd streets.

A brief chase ensued as Mr. Beene attempted to get the vehicle's occupants to pull over.

The suspects drove into a dead end in the 3200 block of Coronado Street, just south of the Northwest Parkway. The driver deliberately backed into the police car more than once but was unsuccessful in getting out of the cul-de-sac. Both men scrambled out and ran to the nearby woods heading in different directions.

Mr. Beene followed the driver, who stands about 6 feet 4 inches tall and weighs 220 pounds, into the woods. The man turned and attacked Mr. Beene, repeatedly grabbing the officer's flashlight and striking him on his head, face and neck.

"It's pretty clear that this was a case where the suspect was using deadly force against the officer," Mr. Castle said. "We feel fortunate he's still with us."

Despite a holster lock that's designed to impede anyone but an officer from quickly drawing the weapon, the suspect managed to grab the pistol.

Mr. Beene regained control of his firearm and warned the subject to get back, stated Sgt. Christopher Black, the investigating supervisor. The subject made a second attempt to grab the gun and the weapon discharged, Mr. Black stated, but it didn't strike the suspect.

Mr. Beene put the gun in his holster but the suspect attacked again and removed the pistol a second time, Mr. Black stated. In this altercation, Mr. Beene fired his weapon and struck the suspect twice.

The total number of shots fired wasn't known Wednesday. The officer called for assistance and all available officers responded to the location.

The suspect still put up a fight and it took several officers to restrain him, Mr. Castle said.

Mr. Burns was charged with a Class C felony of second degree assault on a law enforcement officer, misdemeanor possession of marijuana, and driving while revoked. After his release from the hospital he will be held without bond at the Buchanan County Jail.

The department takes this seriously and will go through a thorough review of everything, Mr. Castle said. Police continue to investigate the case, which includes some unexplained merchandise in the car.

Copyright 2007 St. Joseph News-Press

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