Missouri cop who shot unarmed, mentally ill Walmart panhandler faces investigation

By David Ferguson
Wednesday, May 14, 2014 10:21 EDT
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Police at scene of Springfield shooting
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An 11-year veteran of the Springfield, MO police force was suspended and is facing an internal investigation and criminal charges after he shot and wounded an unarmed mentally ill man who was panhandling in a Walmart parking lot.

Officer Jason Shuck is on administrative leave, reported the Springfield News-Leader, after gunning down Eric David Butts on Friday as Butts tried to run away.

Butts, 26, had outstanding arrest warrants. Court records show that he was diagnosed with bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. There is no indication in the case that Butts was armed at any time or posed any threat to Officer Shuck.

Cindi Keele of NAMI, Missouri, the Missouri chapter of the National Alliance for Mental Illness, told the News-Leader that the organization has “concerns” about the shooting.

“It does seem overkill to shoot someone who is running away from you,” she said.

Butts is in stable condition. Court records show that he has taken mental health medications since he was 3 years old. He was abused by his birth mother and again in foster and group homes. He was removed from his mother’s custody after she made multiple attempts to drown him, hang him and abandon him on the freeway.

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David Ferguson
David Ferguson
David Ferguson is an editor at Raw Story. He was previously writer and radio producer in Athens, Georgia, hosting two shows for Georgia Public Broadcasting and blogging at Firedoglake.com and elsewhere. He is currently working on a book.
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