But then the police changed their story, and admitted that the officer - who is black - "was shot by a fellow cop who did not recognize him as an officer, in a separate encounter away from the initial crash".
The St Louis Metropolitan Police Department said the shooting was a "friendly fire incident" but the injured officer's lawyer said he had been "automatically feared". He notes there's no evidence in the police report that the off-duty officer posed any sort of threat, and yet the officer who shot him is said to have feared for his safety.
Eventually, the suspects' vehicle stopped at Park Avenue and Astra in north St. Louis and the suspects exited the auto and exchanged gunfire with officers, according to police. Two officers saw him and ordered him to the ground but soon recognised him as one of their own and told him to stand up and come over to them. Officers were following three suspects in a stolen auto Wednesday night when shots were fired at police, prompting an exchange of gunfire.
Police say the on-duty officers were following a stolen vehicle and that its occupants fired on them twice.
However, the auto crashed at an intersection and the three suspects inside the auto fled the vehicle. Police immediately got to the scene and were confronted by three people inside the stolen auto.
The victim was treated in hospital but has since been released, police confirmed.
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The USS Fitzgerald was first commissioned in 1995, and in 2005 it was deployed to counteract missile crises around the globe. Additionally, all commercial ships over 300 tons are required under worldwide rules to operate AIS location data.
The officer who shot the off-duty officer is 36 years old and has been with the department more than eight years. They say one other suspect is still on the loose. His attorney, Rufus Tate Jr., says the shooting is a "real problem", Fox 2 reports. "We can see this is a real problem".
The injured officer was taken to the hospital and has since been released.
'This has been a national discussion for the past two years'. The officer, who later left the force, wasn't charged, which further strained relations between the area's black community and the police.
The auto stopped near Park and Astra Avenues when police say shots were exchanged.
But the department later confirmed the frustrating circumstances leading to the officer's injury. In 2013, according to online Federal Bureau of Investigation figures, only two officers were killed when mistakenly shot as a result of crossfire, mistaken for a subject, or involved in other firearm mishaps. Investigators told local news outlets that the officers didn't see the teen in the darkness where they were firing.
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