A routine traffic stop turned deadly Monday evening, after “a confrontation” resulted in a police officer shooting and killing a teenager in Mobile.
According to the Mobile Police Department, 19-year-old Michael Moore was pulled over by an officer for committing a traffic violation at the intersection of Stanton Road and Wagner Street around 6:20 p.m. Monday.
Terence Perkins, a public information officer with the MPD, issued a brief statement on the incident Monday night.
“Due to the driver not having a valid driver’s license, the officer had him to step out of the vehicle,” Perkins said in the release. “Once out of the vehicle, a confrontation ensued and the officer noticed Moore had a handgun in his waistband.”
That’s when, according to Perkins, the officer drew his weapon and fired several shots at Moore, striking him four times.
Details were unclear Tuesday morning, but some who claimed to be eyewitnesses offered varying reports — some saying the officer shot Moore while he was on the ground and others saying they never even saw Moore with a weapon.
As for the MPD, a spokesperson for the department declined to go into “detailed explanation at this point” about what caused the officer to use deadly force.
EMTs responded to the scene and transported Moore to the nearby University of South Alabama Medical Center, where he succumbed to his injuries.
Some on the scene after the shooting claimed to see the victim holding a cellphone and not a weapon. Those statements have made it all the way into national reports about the incident, but Lagniappe has not been able to confirm them.
According to the MPD, officers on the scene did recover a cell phone along with a semi-automatic handgun, but it’s unclear at this point where the handgun was in relation to Moore when the shooting took place.
Mobile Police Chief James Barber told reporters just hours after the incident that the officer involved has been placed on administrative leave pending the results of an internal affairs investigation.
On Tuesday, Barber spoke at a regular meeting of the Mobile City Council, where he confirmed the department has reached out to the FBI to help conduct a parallel investigation of the shooting.
At the same meeting, members of Moore’s family addressed city officials, including his cousin D.J. Larry, who asked for the investigation “to bring out the truth.”
“That’s what we’re asking for,” he said.
Larry did say if an investigation uncovers any “legitimate” reason for the shooting, the family would support it, and he asked the community to do the same.
However, if the shooting isn’t justified, he asked that swift action be taken.
“All six of us here … We understand you,” Councilman C.J. Small told Larry. “We can’t tell the police department what to do, but we are behind you.”
Small also commended Barber for asking the FBI to get involved. Small said many in his district don’t trust District Attorney Ashley Rich or the Mobile Police Department to handle the investigation.
The council broke its own rules to allow Larry to speak. Later in the meeting, more residents asked to speak about the shooting, including resident Timothy Hollis. However, before Hollis could speak, a man came through the double doors and began clapping. He told councilors they put on a good show, before yelling that a “young man died in my community … you guys don’t want to talk about it.”
The man accused councilors of pushing the discussion of the shooting to the bottom of the agenda before being escorted out of the multi-purpose room in Government Plaza. Councilman Levon Manzie corrected him, stating the council wasn’t at the end of its agenda.
Hollis, a 27-year-old U.S. Air Force veteran, said Moore was headed to the Air Force himself. The self-described community activist told councilors he was “hurt” to hear of the shooting that took the life of a teenager before he could achieve great things.
“It hurts me when a child, somebody who hasn’t even experienced life yet, don’t get that chance,” Hollis said. “It’s one thing when the drug game takes them out. It’s one thing when the enemy across the street takes them, but when we’ve got our people that are supposed to protect and serve us, taking them out because they saw a gun, it’s a problem.”
Hollis told councilors he was harassed by officers of Mobile’s third precinct in the past because of the way he looked or the way he dressed.
He also asked councilors to push for more initiatives to give youth more activities, and also to help officers better communicate with young in that area and throughout Mobile.
As for the officer, his name has not yet been released to the public, and Public Affairs Officer Charlette Solis said she couldn’t immediately release information about the length of his employment with MPD.
As police investigated the scene, dozens of people gathered in the area, many of whom claimed to have witnessed the incident. At least four individuals were taken to MPD headquarters to be interviewed, including two passengers from Moore’s vehicle who have not been identified.
Videos taken in the aftermath of the shooting were widely circulated on social media, some garnering thousands of likes and shares. Many are already claiming the shooting was unnecessary, though reports of what exactly happened vary.
However, many on the scene and online have asked about whether the officer was wearing a video camera. As of Tuesday morning, the department was unable to provide an answer to the question.
“We’re checking on that because the officer was on his way to work and wasn’t on duty yet at the time,” Solis told Lagniappe. She added that classifying the officer as “off duty” would be inaccurate because he was in uniform and because “he was performing his duty as an officer once he made the traffic stop, and actually became on duty.”
Mobile Mayor Sandy Stimpson offered his “prayers and condolences” to Moore’s family the morning after the shooting, issuing a statement that reads in part, “any time a life is lost, it is a tragedy.”
“We have called upon the FBI to run a parallel investigation with the MPD. I have complete confidence that the investigation will reveal the facts,” Stimpson said. “I expect that this process will be as transparent as is legally possible. We ask for prayer and patience until the full facts are revealed.”
Correction: When Moore’s death was first confirmed by Mobile Police he was identified as an 18-year-old. According to Mobile Metro Jail records, Moore turned 19 June 9.
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