Clayton, Mo. A grand jury has cleared a St. Louis County police officer in the fatal shooting of an unarmed woman during a drug raid at her home.
Prosecutor Robert McCulloch announced the decision Friday, noting that jurors had heard from 34 witnesses and pored over numerous pieces of evidence during two days of testimony in the death of Annette Green.
"As tragic as this whole ordeal was, and as tragic as the shooting of Annette Green was, it was justifiable," McCulloch said.
Green, 37, was shot three times on Feb. 6 while officers served a search warrant for drugs at her home in Wellston.
Three officers said they broke down the front door of the heavily barricaded home and saw Green coming down the steps toward them, McCulloch said.
The officers said they believed Green was carrying a gun or knife after a flashlight picked up a glint from the woman's hand. When Green ignored calls to stop and drop the object, one of the officers fired four times at her. Three of the bullets struck her, McCulloch said.
It was later determined that shiny object in Green's hand was a silver 12-inch metal bolt, McCulloch said.
"In addition to the police officers, everybody who was in the home heard some version of 'stop, police,' and 'show us your hands,"' McCulloch said.
It was never determined why Green had the bolt in her hand, McCulloch said. He speculated that it might have been left from repairs made to a door damaged by officers during a drug raid at the home a year earlier.
A toxicology report showed Green had an "extreme" level of cocaine in her system enough to make her "angry, aggressive and oblivious," McCulloch said.
Green's relatives had maintained that she had been talking on the telephone about 5:20 p.m. when officers entered the home, and it was a portable handset that she carried.
McCulloch asked the grand jury to investigate amid public outcry. Green was the third black resident fatally shoot by a white police officer in recent months. The other two incidents also went to a grand jury but did not result in charges.
McCulloch noted that undercover officers had purchased crack cocaine from Green several times prior to seeking the search warrant. Green also was on probation for a drug charge stemming from the drug raid a year earlier. At that time, officers discovered Green had a handgun tucked under the cushion of the chair where she was sitting.
In addition, officers later learned that the city of Wellston had condemned the house and had ordered Green to leave.
The officer who fired the fatal shots has not been released. He has been on leave since the shooting, but was expected to return to active duty within 10 days, a police spokesman said.