Officers involved in deadly Charleston shooting on leave

A cross stands in the place where Asberry was shot.
A cross stands in the place where Asberry was shot.
Asberry's mother says she will seek justice for her son's death.
Asberry's mother says she will seek justice for her son's death.

CHARLESTON, MO (KFVS) - Carolyn Young says she is still reeling over the loss of her son, Murry Asberry.

"It was murder," said Young.

Highway Patrol investigators say Asberry was first tased and then shot by a police officer Tuesday night after wielding a sword.

The officers involved have been placed on paid administrative leave, which is standard procedure, pending the outcome of the investigation, according to Trooper Clark Parrott.

That includes police chief Robert Hearnes.  Police Captain Anthony Moody will serve as the acting police chief. 

"I couldn't believe that they tased him twice and then still shot him," said Young.

According to Mississippi County Coroner Terry Parker, Asberry was hit twice. Parker says Asberry was shot once in the front shoulder, and once in the lower back.

"I don't trust anybody," said Young.

Young says she first got a call from the drug store telling her 34-year-old son was upset and wanted his medicine for a mental condition.

Eventually police got involved.  Asberry allegedly threw a rock at their car then came out of the apartment with a sword.  Authorities say he came at Chief Robert Hearnes and nicked him on the hand.

"He had that sword in there for protection because he felt like the police was going to kill him," said Young. "The way people have guns for protection he has that for protection."

We went to police for answers, but they say they can't comment and directed us to the highway patrol for questions. Meanwhile, most witnesses we spoke with tell a similar story.

"I can't get it out of my head," said Shandanaka Wright. "The only thing I keep seeing is the way that man shot him and he fell to the ground."

Wright says she was closest to the shooting.

"I saw him take his last breath," said Wright.

Wright says Asberry was running from officers with the sword. She says he turned, but did not take a swing. She says that's when one officer tased Asberry and he began to fall and drop the sword. Witnesses say as he was falling the officer shot him.

"I saw the fire coming out of the gun," said Wright. "He did not hesitate."

Now the community asks: was this senseless, or justified?

Highway Patrol Investigators spent the day talking to witnesses and analyzing evidence.

Witnesses tell Heartland News they handed cell phone video over to authorities. Meanwhile, according to Paul Page of the housing authorities, the property is patrolled by 22 cameras. He says all of that is in the hands of police.

Now Asberry's family says they are planning his funeral, something they feel they should not have to do. Asberry leaves behind a teenage daughter who lives in Memphis.

"I will never rest until justice is done," said Young. "They murdered my son."

As for Asberry's mental condition, his mother would not elaborate, but says Asberry could not work and was never violent. She says he did a lot of walking for his nerves.

The Missouri State Highway Patrol's Division of Drug and Crime Control is conducting the investigation.

Trooper Clark Parrott says he expects the investigation to take some time. He does not know when we might expect to learn the name of the officers involved.

Each officer on administrative leave is required to see a counselor designated by the city before they return to duty and pending the outcome of the investigation.

Charleston City Manager Daniel Gruen met with community leaders Thursday to assure them the city will take action against the officers involved if the investigation reveals they acted improperly and not in self defense.  Gruen also told community leaders they city would stand behind the officers involved if the investigation reveals they acted properly and in self defense.

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