An undercover detective for the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department fired bullets into the body of an unarmed dying man, then tried to cover up his act by planting a gun near the scene of the killing, according to a federal lawsuit filed yesterday with the Eastern District of Missouri.
The police department has long averred that the detective in question shot and killed the victim, Normanne Bennett, out of self-defense last June on the 3900 block of Sherman Place, during a drug detail. According to the police department, Bennett, who was about to be arrested on drug charges, began to flee, then raised his own revolver and took aim at the officers, while other suspects attacked them.
The suit, filed by Bennett's family, names the police department, the St. Louis Board of Commissioners (including Mayor Francis G. Slay) and the detective who allegedly fired the shots, Marc Wasem, as defendants. This is the first time Wasem has been publicly identified.
Following an internal investigation into the incident, the Board of Police Commissioners cleared Wasem on all charges.
A police spokesperson declined to comment, citing departmental policy for cases under litigation.
According to the complaint, which is posted below, Wasem fired seven shots at Bennett, some of which struck him as he lay on the ground dying.
"Bennett fell to the ground in the alley after being shot.
"Wasem then paused and fired additional shots into Bennett while he was on the ground.
"Bennett was struck at least five times by rounds fired by Wasem. He was struck in the back, chest, chin, right tricep and left forearm. Wasem fired at least seven rounds at Bennett.
"Bennett died from multiple gunshot wounds.
"Wasem, acting alone or in concert with others, planted a gun near Bennett as a ruse in order to try to relieve his culpability in the causes of action."
For background on officer-involved shootings over the last several years, see Jennifer Mann's recent article in the Post-Dispatch.