St. Louis police say looters released because not enough time to submit evidence

Police say investigations of this magnitude take time to complete.

Brian Kelly
June 04, 2020 - 4:55 pm

ST.  LOUIS (KMOX) - More than two dozen suspected looters and others involved in Sunday and Monday's violence in St. Louis were released without being charged because police haven't had time to submit the necessary evidence, according to the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department.

A police spokesperson tells KMOX, "The events of this weekend were unprecedented and occurred throughout many different locations ... and thorough and comprehensive investigations of this magnitude take time to complete."

Related: 'I have to feel safe:' City resident contemplates leaving town after being shot at in St. Louis

Those who were released can still be charged, the spokesperson says. 

The release of the 36 people arrested after four officers were shot, stores were looted and one was set on fire, drew a strong rebuke of Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner from Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt.  Gardner issued this video response.

As previously reported, two of the 36 suspects were given summonses. Eight others were released because the circuit attorney wants to see more evidence.

The other 26 were let go because police were not able to complete the reports, and submit the evidence, within the 24-hours a suspect can be held without charges in Missouri.

The department spokesperson says the goal is to present all the cases to the circuit attorney's office with all the evidence needed to have charges issued.

Here's the statement from police: 

"PAW is an acronym for Pending Application of Warrant.  An arrested individual is typically only PAW’d when circumstances dictate that the application of warrant(s) on the charge(s) will not be able to occur within the 24 hours that an individual may be lawfully held without charge(s).  The events of this weekend were unprecedented and occurred throughout many different locations within the City.  Evidence must be collected and reports must be prepared prior to the warrant application occurring.  Thorough and comprehensive investigations of this magnitude take time to complete. While the Police Department has the power and authority to arrest individuals, it is the Circuit Attorney’s Office which has the power to charge individuals.  It is our goal to present these cases to the Circuit Attorney’s Office with all of the necessary evidence needed to have those charges issued. "

Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt called out Gardner on Twitter this week, claiming that "every single one of the St. Louis looters and rioters arrested were released back onto the streets." Gardner released a statement about the claim, saying "a few cases" were referred to her office, but they "need essential evidence from the police."

The St. Louis area has seen multiple nights of violent standoffs with police, looting and destroying local businesses, and buildings set on fire by. The peak came on Monday night, into early Tuesday morning which left four officer shot, one retired police captain murdered, 55 businesses damaged or looted and 25 people arrested. A total of 36 arrests were made by the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department on Sunday and Monday nights.

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