* (Disclaimer: This video content is intended for educational and informational purposes only) *
O’Fallon, Missouri — St. Charles County Police have released body camera video that shows a shooting of a 17-year-old. On January 23, two officers with the O’Fallon Police Department responded to a call for a suspicious vehicle that was unlicensed and had heavy damage, with two people inside from a resident living in the 500 block of Prentice Drive. One of the officers approached the car and knocked on the window. The teen looked up, then down. The officer tapped the barrel of his handgun on the window, then smashed it through the glass. The car lurched into reverse, then drive. Then both officers, one on each side of the car, began firing, at least 15 rounds in all, as the car sped off over a suburban lawn. The officer later told investigators he saw through the window a hand holding a gun, and feared for his life. At least two bullets hit the car’s driver, 17-year-old Christopher Jones, who died. The passenger, another teen, was arrested. A handgun that had been reported stolen was recovered from the car after the shooting, police said.
The incident started just before 11 a.m. Jan. 23 when police were called to the 500 block of Prentice Drive in O’Fallon for reports of a “suspicious vehicle,” without license plates, idling. Two people appeared to be sleeping inside. Body camera footage from Officer Matthew Vegovisch shows him walking up to the driver’s side window of the white Honda, pulling at the door handle, and drawing his gun. Jones looks at Vegovisch and then toward the inside of the car. Vegovisch pulls at the door handle, saying “open the door” and “don’t!” Vegovisch smashes the window glass with the barrel of his gun and the car reverses, hitting the front of Vegovisch’s patrol car with its bumper. Vegovisch then steps away from the Honda and begins firing as the car drives forward. He continues shooting as it drives through part of a front yard and down the street. In a statement to St. Charles County Police Department investigators, Vegovisch said when he walked up to the car, he saw “a hand on the center gear shifter and simultaneously saw a hand holding a black handgun.”
He said he broke the window “in an attempt to get the occupant’s attention … to stop what they were doing.” Video from the passenger’s side shows Officer Michael Manzella tapping on the window with his hand. The car then reverses, he jumps backward, and then starts shooting as the car drives forward and through the yard. He then makes a call for “shots fired.” Manzella told investigators in a statement he heard gunshots and thought they were coming from the car toward him or Vegovisch, so he returned fire. Vegovisch fired four times, Manzella 11, according to the records. Manzella’s video shows him getting into his patrol vehicle and following the Honda, which came to rest blocks away. Other officers surrounded the vehicle with their weapons drawn. The passenger gets out of the car and is arrested. Jones is pulled from the driver’s seat and officers begin doing CPR. Jones was transported to SSM Health St. Joseph Hospital in Lake Saint Louis, where he died. Jones was shot at least twice — once through the back and once in the back of the head. The bullet that went through Jones’ back, which was fatal, was fired by Vegovisch; the round found in his head was fired by Manzella. Police later determined the Honda had been reported stolen weeks earlier from Kirkwood.
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