ST. LOUIS — A man fatally shot this week during a confrontation with St. Louis police was wounded by officers in 2009 after he brandished a gun, police said Wednesday.
Ledarius Williams, 23, of St. Louis County, died Tuesday afternoon after he was shot during a struggle with two officers in a gangway between two homes in the Dutchtown neighborhood of St. Louis.
The officers were on patrol when they saw Williams acting suspiciously, police spokeswoman Schron Jackson said in a statement. Williams ran with his hand at his waistband, and officers chased him on foot.
Police found Williams hiding behind a bush near a home and tried to arrest him. A struggle began and Williams pointed a gun at the officers, police said.
"If I wanted to describe a struggle for your life, one of the officers today is covered in mud, literally head to toe, where they were rolling on the ground in the mud while trying to gain to control of (the man's) gun," Police Chief Sam Dotson told reporters at the scene.
One of the officers opened fire. It wasn't clear how many times Williams was hit but Dotson said four shots were fired.
Williams was pronounced dead at a hospital. A .45-caliber gun recovered at the scene was reported stolen in Alabama in 2013, Jackson said.
Neither officer was hurt. Police have not said which of the officers, ages 24 and 29, shot Williams. The shooting officer was placed on paid leave pending an internal investigation.
Soon after the shooting, about 40 people gathered at the site, and a makeshift memorial was set up for Williams.
Tensions remain high in the St. Louis area six months after 18-year-old Michael Brown, who was unarmed, was killed by officer Darren Wilson in the St. Louis County town of Ferguson. Since then, five men have been fatally shot by police in the region — four in St. Louis and one in nearby Berkeley.
In each case, the suspect was black. Four of the men reportedly flourished guns, and one a knife. The officers who fired the fatal shots were all white, including the officer who killed Williams.
Williams was familiar to police. He was shot by police after raising a gun at two officers five years ago.
A probable cause statement provided by the St. Louis Circuit Attorney's office said Williams was fleeing from a car stopped for a traffic violation on May 24, 2009, and pointed a semi-automatic pistol at two officers, who opened fire, wounding him. Details about the extent of his injuries were not available.
Williams pleaded guilty to two counts of assault on a law enforcement officer and was sentenced to 14 years in prison. He was released on parole in March.
Crime has been rising in the Dutchtown neighborhood, so much so that "hot-spot" policing is to start there next week. Hot-spot policing brings extra officers to high-crime areas.
The rash of officer-involved shootings has spurred calls for police to wear body cameras, but St. Louis officers do not have them, Jackson said.