The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported Friday that former St. Louis police officer, Matthew D. EerNisse, has finally been found not guilty of assault for shooting a suspected carjacker in self-defense in 2018.
The former Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner charged the officer with first-degree assault in 2019 following the incident in which prosecutors had alleged EerNisse had “recklessly” shot unarmed suspect, Arvell Keithley, wounding him in the thigh and arm. Those charges were dropped to second-degree assault on the first day of the trial after new evidence came to light that EerNisse’s attorney felt should have led to all charges being dropped, but the circuit attorney had a different agenda.
The Post-Dispatch reported: “Gardner, who abruptly resigned in May, promised during her tenure to hold officers accountable and came under fire from the department for her handling of such cases. She later faced criticism for refusing to review dozens of cases of police shootings that were submitted to her office, leaving officers to languish for months on desk duty.”
At the time of the incident, Keithley, who was reported at the time as being “armed and dangerous,” led police on a chase in a stolen car before crashing it and being chased on foot into an alley by EerNisse. EerNisse reported following the shooting that Keithly reached for his waistband and then also reached for his gun.
Keithley was ultimately sentenced to 11 years in prison for two separate carjackings. Meanwhile, EerNisse’s law enforcement career has been put on hold until the case could finally be settled.
The shooting by Matthew D. EerNisse was “objectively reasonable in light of the totality of the particular facts and circumstances confronting the officer on the scene,” Judge John T. Bird wrote in his ruling and as reported by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.
EerNisse’s attorney Scott Rosenblum told the Post-Dispatch, “He believed it was ‘the right verdict’ in a case that ‘never should’ve been brought in the first place.”
Rosenblum told the newspaper that his client intended “to go back into law enforcement.”
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