Former St. Louis officer who shot suspect in 2018 found not guilty

ST. LOUIS (AP) — A judge ruled Friday that a former St. Louis police officer was not guilty of assault for shooting a suspected carjacker in 2018, ruling he acted in self-defense.

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, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.

Former Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner charged EerNisse with first-degree assault in 2019. The charge was reduced to second-degree assault on the first day of trial, but prosecutors still contended that EerNisse “recklessly” shot at the unarmed suspect, Arvell Keithley, who was struck in the back of the thigh and arm. Keithley survived.

But defense attorney Scott Rosenblum said the suspect was considered “armed and dangerous” and had crashed a stolen car. EerNisse chased Keithley into an alley, where he said he saw Keithley reach for his waistband. He also allegedly reached for the officer’s gun.

Keithley was sentenced in 2019 to 11 years in prison for two separate carjackings.

Rosenblum said the case “never should’ve been brought in the first place.” He said EerNisse plans to go back into law enforcement.

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