Still No Answers Seven Months After Police Shoot and Kill Stephon Averyhart

Categories: Police

Stephon Averyhart
Seven months have passed since police officers from the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department shot and killed 27-year-old Stephon Averyhart during a wild chase, but the investigation is still ongoing and few details have been released. Now, the mother of the deceased wants to know why it's taking so long -- and why she has never been contacted by police since they called her to identify her son's body.

On February 12, Averyhart was fleeing police before he crashed his car into a telephone poll near the corner of Harney Avenue and Union Boulevard. He then jumped out of the car and ran as officers followed him on foot. Averyhart turned into an alley and then was shot dead by the officers. The officers say Averyhart pointed a gun at them first and a gun was found on the scene. But friends and relatives say he although he kept a gun for self-protection, he wasn't the type to shoot at police; he was just running to evade getting arrested for warrants from unpaid tickets.

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Michael Brown Sr. to Officer Darren Wilson: "Turn Yourself in Right Now"

Categories: Michael Brown

Jessica Lussenhop
Lesley McSpadden and Michael Brown Sr. outside the Buzz Westfall Justice Center in Clayton.

Just before a march that spilled into the streets of downtown Clayton and stopped traffic, the father of 18-year-old Michael Brown had pointed words for Ferguson Officer Darren Wilson. Michael Brown Sr. stood beside Lesley McSpadden, Mike Jr.'s mother, outside of the Buzz Westfall Justice Center and addressed the assembled crowd of about 100 supporters.

"We ain't getting no sleep around here. I wonder if he gettin' sleep," said Brown Sr. of Wilson. "If he's getting peace...hey, I could respect him better if he would come here to Clayton right now and turn himself in. Turn yourself in right now. Turn yourself in right now. I could respect that. I would respect you a whole lot better if you would come here right now and turn yourself in."

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Six Things to Know About Bringing High-Speed Fiber to St. Louis

File photo
Is the sun setting on St. Louis' opportunity for ultra high-speed fiber?

Four years ago Google announced that it would test an ultra-high-speed fiber network in one United States city before exploring how to deploy similar networks across the country. With a speed of about 100 times faster than the standard Internet connection -- one gigabit per second -- Google Fiber in 2010 held the promise of revolutionizing productivity while increasing jobs and sparking an economic boom.

Naturally, St. Louis wanted a piece of that action. Mayor Francis Slay's office put together an application detailing why the Gateway City should be Google's guinea pig and even PC World backed St. Louis as a good candidate for high-speed broadband.

Alas, Google's fancy-pants network went to St. Louis' cross-state rival Kansas City, which has attracted new business to the region thanks to its newfound high-speed access. In fact, we didn't even land on Google's list of post-KC cities that would receive the fiber treatment. But that doesn't mean St. Louis has forgotten about the endeavor.

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Why Ferguson City Officials Still Haven't Met with the Family of Michael Brown

Categories: Michael Brown

Bryan Sutter
Michael Brown's mother, Lesley McSpadden, center, and father, Michael Brown Sr., right, at a national march in their son's memory.

On Wednesday night Daily RFT had an opportunity to speak with Ferguson mayor James Knowles about the previous evening's city-council meeting and a raft of changes to the city's municipal code. At the meeting, he was asked dozens of questions which he could not -- according to standard council operating procedure -- answer. More than one of the speakers during the public comment asked why the city of Ferguson has not apologized to the family of Michael Brown (though one sniffed that an apology would be meaningless anyway).

Daily RFT put that question to Knowles Wednesday night. He said, "I know [Ferguson police chief Thomas Jackson] was able to meet with them the day of the incident and express our condolences. Very quickly attorneys got involved. Early on we tried to have a couple meetings with the family."

Daily RFT then called Anthony Gray, the local attorney on the legal team for the family of Brown, to confirm that account. Gray emphatically denied that the city reached out, either to him or to Brown's parents, for a meeting.

"No. I know of no effort of the mayor of Ferguson trying to reach out to the family. I know of absolutely no efforts whatsoever, and the suggestion is almost offensive, to be honest with you," Gray said.

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Neighbors Still Trying to Stop the Loop Trolley With Legal Roadblocks

Categories: Bidness, Blowback

Neighbors are moving forward with one of two lawsuits against the Loop Trolley project.
As utility crews prepare Delmar Boulevard for the construction of the $43 million Loop Trolley line, three neighbors and a Delmar Loop business owner are pushing for a federal lawsuit to stop it altogether.

The four people challenging the Loop Trolley filed a lawsuit last October saying the project is unlawful. A U.S. district judge threw out the lawsuit, saying the three neighbors have no legal standing and that the business owner missed his chance to sue. Now, all four are appealing that decision to the U.S. Court of Appeals, asking for another chance to argue against the trolley project.

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Beloved Comic Book Store Owner Steve Koch Dies, Ran Comic Headquarters for 26 Years

Categories: Obituaries

Steve Koch, the long-time owner and founder of Comic Headquarters.
Before they were married, Steve Koch tried to convince his then-girlfriend Carla to try joining him in something he loved: reading comic books. She was skeptical -- comics weren't really her thing -- but he selected a special book for her, X-Men No. 1, and insisted that she would like it if she just gave it a chance.

"I thought comic books were crazy," Carla Koch tells Daily RFT. "I thought comic-book people were just too stupid to read real books."

When she fell asleep reading it and creased the cover, she was afraid he'd get mad at her for creasing the cover of his collectible.

But he didn't mind, Carla says. "That's just the kind of guy he was. He just wanted me to read it and like it. He knew the true value of a comic book was in the story and the art, not as it being a collectible."

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PHOTOS: Police Thwart I-70 Blockade by Blocking I-70, Arrest 32 Ferguson Protesters

Categories: Michael Brown

Bryan Sutter
One of the 32 protesters arrested yesterday during a failed attempt to block I-70.
Protesters attempting to block Interstate 70 were rebuffed yesterday by the combined forces of the St. Louis County Police Department, the Missouri Highway Patrol and a massive thunderstorm.

Organized by St. Louis activists Eric Vickers and Anthony Shahid, the act of civil disobedience was meant to protest St. Louis Prosecuting Attorney Bob McCulloch's role in the Michael Brown/Darren Wilson investigation. Vickers helped organize a similar blockade in 1999, when hundreds of protesters halted I-70 to protest unfair hiring practices on road projects. This time, however, the protesters never made it to the road.

"Regardless of whether we're on the freeway, we're here to protest, and that's the only thing that matters," said Maurice Brown, a member of the Disciples of Justice and New Black Panther Party minutes before the protest's planned 3 p.m. start time. "This is not black or white thing, this is for human rights."

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St. Louis Police Chief Spars with Aldermen Over Use of Deadly Force

Categories: Michael Brown

Danny Wicentowski
St. Louis Police Chief Sam Dotson was grilled by members of the aldermanic board over his department's use of deadly force.
As he drove to the scene of Kajieme Powell's shooting on August 19, St. Louis Metropolitan Police Chief Sam Dotson couldn't shake the thought of Ferguson.

"The whole time I was thinking about the things that happened in Ferguson, and how to make sure the lessons learned in Ferguson were not lessons repeated here," said Dotson, addressing the assembled aldermen during a public-safety hearing at city hall yesterday. The remark drew bitter laughter from the packed audience; the city's highest ranking law-enforcement officer had just essentially admitted the Ferguson Police Department's handling of Michael Brown's shooting was so badly bungled that he considered it a textbook example of what not do in the aftermath of a police-involved shooting.

The crowd's bitter laughter -- along with some hisses and boos -- would be heard again over the course of the three-hour hearing, during which Dotson sparred with aldermen over the SLMPD's use-of-force policy. It was a strangely philosophical hearing, as aldermen such as Antonio French challenged Dotson to defend the use of deadly force against a man such as Powell -- a knife-wielding, mentally unstable shoplifting suspect who was still several feet from two officers when they opened fire on the 25-year-old, killing him.

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Ferguson Mayor James Knowles Details Proposed Civilian Review Board for Police

Categories: Michael Brown

Jessica Lussenhop

Ferguson mayor James Knowles III said he thought Tuesday night's city council meeting -- which consisted of nearly three straight hours of angry and resentful comments toward himself and the board of aldermen -- went better than he expected. One of the first things that set the crowd off was the announcement that, though everyone in attendance would be allowed to speak for three minutes, no one on the dais would be responding to questions.

"We never do that at those meetings. It's a regular business meeting," he told Daily RFT yesterday evening by phone. "We wanted to be able to make sure everyone got their piece in. Myself and others definitely took a lot of notes. There are people I'll get back with directly and personally."

Knowles said in addition to issuing some kind of FAQ release with a series of answers to repeated questions about the investigation, why officer Darren Wilson and Chief Thomas Jackson were not fired, and other oft-heard concerns, he will be continuing to refine the raft of changes to the city's municipal code which were announced Tuesday night. He shared a bit with Daily RFT about how those changes were drafted, and answered other questions about Michael Brown and officer Wilson.

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How St. Louis Rams Rookie Ethan Westbrooks' Face Tattoo Helped Him Get to the NFL

Categories: Sports

Hjelle on Flickr
Somewhere on that field is a rookie with a face tatt.
Before he was that St. Louis Rams player who beat out Michael Sam for one of the last spots on the 53-man roster, Ethan Westbrooks was that Rams player with the motivational face tattoo.

The tattoo on his left cheek reads, "Laugh now, Cry later," with a picture of a happy face and a sad face.

So why get a face tattoo (if you're not boasting about how many people you killed in prison)? Westbrooks says he wanted a constant reminder, something he could see in the mirror, to push himself to achieve his goal: playing football professionally.

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