A lawyer representing Caleb Slay’s family says Slay was first verbally abused by a DEA agent on Nov. 2, shot three times in the chest, and then handcuffed.
Craig F. Lowther, a lawyer hired by Caleb Slay’s mother to investigate his death, told the news leader Monday that his investigator spoke to a witness who lived near Slay’s home on the 1800 block of South Maryland Avenue lives.
Lowther said he later spoke to the same witness who gave the same information about Slay’s death.
“He (Slay) was verbally abused, then he was shot three times in the chest and then the agent handcuffed him and put his foot on his back to make sure he wasn’t going anywhere,” Lowther said. “I’m told that.”
Slay died on the scene. The shooting took place in the afternoon and the witness, Lowther said, saw them through a front window.
MORE:Friends and family hold vigil for Caleb Slay at Kickapoo High School
James A. Pokryfke, a DEA spokesman in Washington DC, responded by email.
“At around 3:28 pm on November 2, 2020, special agents from the St. Louis Division of the Drug Enforcement Administration were involved in a shooting in the 1,800 block area of South Maryland Avenue in Springfield, MO.
“Immediately prior to the shooting, DEA agents were monitoring what they believed was a violation of federal law. The agents turned to someone they believed was involved in the violation.
“During the conversation between the agents and this person, a second person, later identified as Caleb Slay, approached the agent. Soon after, an argument broke out between the agents and Slay, which resulted in Slay being shot. Slay The scene was pronounced dead and a gun was recovered from the scene.
“Both agents were taken to the area hospital as a precaution and have since been released.
The investigation is still ongoing. Please direct all inquiries regarding the investigation to the Springfield Police Department. “
Lowther said Slay, 25, got caught up in a DEA investigation in which he was not involved.
“Remember, they weren’t even looking for that guy (Slay),” Lowther said.
Two DEA agents had followed a U-Haul truck that had just parked on the 1800 block of South Maryland Avenue. The DEA agent who shot Slay is from the agency’s St. Louis office.
After the death, Springfield Police were issued a search warrant to search the U-Haul truck.
According to this warrant, two DEA agents had followed the U-Haul truck to Maryland Avenue after they observed what they believed was a hand-to-hand drug trade between the driver of the U-Haul – later identified as Casey Ray – and another person.
The warrant states that after Ray parked the U-Haul on Maryland Avenue, Ray got out to speak to him.
According to the arrest warrant, Slay and another person stopped in a green car.
More:Warrant details of what led the DEA agent to fatally shoot Springfield ma
DEA agents cannot wear body cameras
Lowther said Monday that Slay was already in a friend’s car parked in Maryland when the U-Haul suddenly pulled up and parked nose to nose with the friend’s car.
Lowther said Slay’s phone died and he used his friend’s cell phone – while sitting in his friend’s car – to make a call or send a text.
Two vehicles with DEA agents stopped when the U-Haul truck was parked, Lowther said. He believes the DEA vehicles were unmarked.
One came from Sunshine Street and the other from the other end of Maryland Avenue, he said.
Lowther believes the agents were wearing jackets that indicated they were law enforcement agencies.
Slay carried a gun but never showed it, Lowther said.
Slay, a former Kickapoo High School football player, carried a gun because he once worked as a bouncer at a Springfield nightclub, Lowther said.
“My information is that he had put out his hands,” Lowther said.
According to the attorney, Slay spoke to a DEA agent.
“There was no argument,” said Lowther. “There were no threats. Nobody saw wild gestures.”
Then, Lowther said, a second DEA agent tried to attack Slay from behind.
Lowther said Slay didn’t know what was going on and he threw the second agent on the floor.
“He never hit him,” said Lowther. “He didn’t start hitting him. He didn’t do anything.”
After that, Lowther said, he was told that a DEA agent cursed Slay and a DEA agent shot Slay, who is white.
More:“I Just Want Justice”: The family holds a memorial to the Springfield man who was killed by a DEA agent
Body cameras do not provide clarity as DEA agents prohibit the wearing of these cameras.
It has been a longstanding federal policy that officials and agents from the FBI, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the DEA, and the U.S. Marshal Service never wear body cameras.
Just last month the Justice Department announced it would allow local and state police officers serving on federal task forces to wear their body cameras after a number of police chiefs pushed back a ban on cameras. Even if officers wore cameras as part of their department’s standard operations, they were instructed to take them off if they joined federal task forces.
In protest, the former Atlanta police chief withdrew about 25 Atlanta officers from DEA, FBI and Marshals Service task forces.
In St. Paul, Minnesota, officers were booted by a federal marshal’s task force after their boss, Todd Axtell, insisted that the officers wear cameras.
Attorney General William P. Barr said in a statement last month, according to a story in the Washington Post, “I am pleased to announce that the Department of Justice has approved the use of body-worn cameras in our federal task forces in the United States Special circumstances will allow. “
Lowther told the news leader that Slay had surveillance cameras on the outside of his house and that Springfield police were trying to determine if they were firstly on and secondly if they were taping the events surrounding Slay’s death.
Springfield Police Department spokeswoman Jasmine Bailey said Monday the department would not comment on its investigation into the shooting.
Reporter and columnist Steve Pokin can be reached at 417-836-1253 or [email protected]