O’FALLON, Mo. – Family and friends are mourning the death of a 17-year-old who was fatally shot over the weekend after an encounter with police.
Kiara Neal said officers approached her brother, Christopher “Chris” Jones, while he was sleeping in a car late Sunday morning in an O’Fallon neighborhood.
Police said they approached the Honda Accord around 11 a.m. and “banged loudly” on the window, spotting a handgun in the front seat.
The driver then reversed the car and crashed into a police cruiser. Officers then fired at the Honda, which drove forward until it came to a stop a few blocks away. Paramedics transferred Jones to a hospital, where he later died.
Neal, 24, was Jones’ legal guardian. She said in an interview that her brother was sweet, funny and had a tough life but loved his family.
“When I was little, I looked forward to being older so I had money so we could do things,” she said. “He always told me how happy he was for everything I did.”
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Neal laughingly recalls that they stayed up late and filmed improv comedy scenes on his phone. She said she taught her brother good manners like saying “Yes ma’am” and “No sir” and helped him with money when he needed it.
She said Jones was not going to school but intended to attend a program to graduate from high school. And when Jones recently found out Neal was pregnant, he texted her and promised to support her.
“She’s my best friend,” she said. “We just had a really close bond.”
Neal said she believed her brother had driven with his best friend, another teenager, to meet a friend in O’Fallon late Saturday night. The three stayed up until the early hours of Sunday talking, and both boys had fallen asleep in the car, she said.
Police were called to the area, the 500 block of Prentice Drive, to a call about a “suspicious vehicle” just before 11 a.m. It was there that they found Jones and his friend in a car that had been reported stolen.
Some questions remain about what happened next.
St. Charles County Police, who are handling the investigation, cited the ongoing investigation in declining to answer questions about the number of shots fired, whether any of the people in the car pointed a gun at the police, where the officers were standing when they fired their guns or whether the bullet that killed Jones was fired by the police.
The department will forward the results of the investigation to prosecutors for review once it is complete, a department spokeswoman said in an email.
Both officers have been placed on leave while the investigation continues, O’Fallon police said Sunday. Body camera footage was forwarded to St. Charles County as part of the investigation.
Jones’ girlfriend, Terrae Wilson, 16, said she also wanted to know more about what happened to the kind and generous person she knew so well.
“I just want justice done for him,” she said. “He didn’t deserve to die. He was so young.