Michael Langsdorf, a police officer with the North County Police Cooperative who was shot to death while responding to a bad check call, was a former firefighter and engaged father of two who had more than 17 years in law enforcement.
Langsdorf told the police chief several times that all he wanted to do was be a police officer and do police work. “It was really all I knew how to do,” the chief, John Buchannan, quoted the slain officer as saying. “He told me that numerous times,” said the emotional chief of the Missouri department near St. Louis.
Adding to the emotion, the aftermath of the shooting scene was streamed in a horrific Facebook Live video that showed the fallen officer’s last moments. The video has now been removed from Facebook; harsh criticism has erupted against those who streamed and shared it, including the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, which has apologized for linking to it. Heavy is not running or linking to the video in any capacity. The officer was slain at Clay Wellston Food Market Restaurant, which is located about 15 minutes from St. Louis, Missouri, in Wellston.
The suspect was named as Bonette Kymbrelle Meeks. Police said he has a multi-felony record that is both extensive and violent from North Carolina. A review of North Carolina prison records shows a string of felony drug cases for the suspect.
“God seems to take the good ones, and Michael was a good one,” a local mayor, speaking at a press conference, said of the officer. Major Ron Martin grew emotional at the same press conference, breaking down repeatedly, as he said, “Mike was a friend of mine. I’ve known Mike for over 20 years.” He wiped tears away.
“Mr. Meeks was successful in executing a cop yesterday and a good one,” he said. You can watch that news conference here:
Here’s what you need to know:
1. People Are Being Criticized for Sharing a Facebook Live Video Showing the Officer Dying at the Shooting Scene
Law Enforcement Today ran an article harshly critical of people who streamed and shared a Facebook Live video showing the shooting aftermath and the officer’s dying moments. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch included a link to the video in a story but has since removed it. The video has now been removed from Facebook, but it’s still available in darker corners of the Web.
“I’m writing this struggling knowing that thousands of people are already sharing a Facebook live of an officer’s death thanks to a mob mentality and irresponsible journalists,” read the article by Kyle Reyes, national spokesman for Law Enforcement Today.
Reyes added: “While police rushed to the scene, someone at the store streamed his final moments…her Facebook profile shows that she’s a cashier supervisor at the store. In the heartbreaking and disturbing video, you can see the officer moving. The person holding the camera is swearing about what happened.”
Heavy has reached out to the editor of the Post-Dispatch for the newspaper’s comment. Although the editor did not respond, the newspaper did subsequently run a story about the matter.
“I don’t know why I went to Facebook. I don’t know,” Kashina Harper, who streamed the video, told the Post-Dispatch, adding that she called for help before streaming and is now getting threatened as a result of streaming the video. “I regret it. I didn’t know the officer was going to die.” She also said she held the officer’s hands. She can be heard in the video saying, “C’mon hurry up. Oh my God, I’m shaking.”
The newspaper also wrote: “The Post-Dispatch briefly linked to her video Sunday on STLtoday.com, then deleted the link. Posting the link was bad news judgment, and the newspaper apologizes to the officer’s family and readers.”
Reyes expressed further outrage in an interview with KTRS 550 AM. “What about the family that wasn’t even at the hospital yet?” an enraged Reyes said in the interview. “…Talk about utterly irresponsible journalism, the fact that a paper in St. Louis turned around and shared that Facebook Live…it is disgusting.” He also criticized Facebook. He called it a “sad testament” to society that the video streamed at all. He said the “moral fiber” of society has frayed. He said people should have been there to hold the officer, to comfort him, and to phone dispatch, rather than “live broadcasting his death.”
The video is horrific. It shows the officer lying face down and wounded. Two women do appear to come to his assistance while another streams live on Facebook. Other officers then enter the store to help Langsdorf.
“The Facebook video is out there,” police Major Ron Martin said in the news conference. “I believe we’ve done our due diligence in removing that from Facebook. I don’t think it exists out there anymore. The woman that was live streaming the last moments of Officer Langsdorf is an employee of the store. She was very cooperative with our investigators. And another woman, I don’t recall if she was an employee of the store or just a patron, she went to Officer Langsdorf’s aid, tried to stop his bleeding. And she grabbed his Walkie talkie and radioed on it, ‘You’ve got a policeman shot. You’ve got a policeman down.'”
In the video, you do see several women trying to help the officer, and two people hold his hand. “Oh my God,” a woman says. “Don’t move,” she appears to say to the officer who makes slight movements. “Hurry up ya’ll,” the woman trying to help the officer most says to arriving police officers. “Help him, God, help him,” one woman implores as another police officer starts CPR.
Buchannan said in a June 24, 2019 press conference that the department would “wrap our arms” around the officer’s family. He said Langsdorf was an “outstanding officer” who was “taking our young officers under his wing” and was mentoring and guiding them.
The police chief said he wanted to thank the citizens who were on the scene at the market who “came to Mike’s aid and summoned help.”
2. Michael Langsdorf Was ‘Executed’ by the Suspect, Police Say
An extremely emotional Major Martin said that, at about 4:30 p.m, Langsdorf received a call to the market. He described it as a store located at a corner in the city of Wellston. The reason for the call was “someone was trying to pass a bad check…Officer Langsdorf responded there, and he confronted this person who was trying to pass this bad check.”
A struggle ensued inside the store near the counter and the entire shooting was captured on surveillance video.
“Officer Langsdorf and the suspect…Bonette Kymbrelle Meeks…had a struggle on the floor. At some point, Officer Langsdorf was on top of Meeks. I don’t know how looking at the (surveillance) video Mr. Meeks was able to do it, but he was able to pull a gun from his waistband, strike Officer Langsdorf in the side of the head a few times, which caused Officer Langsdorf to be in kind of a daze and lose his hold on Mr. Meeks,” Martin alleged.
“Mr. Meeks was able to stand up and stand over Officer Langsdorf as Officer Langsdorf was on the ground, face down, stomach down. Mr. Meeks had the gun in his hand. Pointed the gun to the back of Officer Langsdorf’s head and fired one shot.” At that point, Martin broke down in tears.
That’s when he said: “Mr. Meeks was successful in executing a cop yesterday and a good one.”
Chief Buchannan also released details of the officer’s death in an earlier press conference. He said that the officer had responded to a business for a “bad check report.” Five minutes later, police received a call for an officer down. He released Langsdorf’s name and said he’d been with the department for three months.
Buchannan confirmed the death of the officer. He said the suspect was in custody. “We recovered the weapon,” he said.
The first written statement by the police said:
NCPC Police Officer Michael Langsdorf, DSN 347, was shot and killed in the line of duty today at 6250 Page Avenue in the city of Wellston.
PO Langsdorf was dispatched there for a person trying to cash a bad check. After arriving, PO Langsdorf was shot by the person attempting to cash the bad check.
The person who shot and killed PO Langsdorf is in custody. A firearm was recovered.
Police say Meeks fled the scene but was captured a short time later and confessed.
3. Langsdorf, Who Was Engaged, Left Behind Two Children & Once Worked as a Volunteer Firefighter
Backstoppers is an organization that helps the “spouses and dependent children of all police officers, firefighters and volunteer firefighters, and publicly-funded paramedics and EMTs in our coverage area who have lost their lives in the line of duty.”
It’s now helping the family of Michael Langsdorf.
Langsdorf was 40 and a father of two, the site says. According to the police, Langsdorf also left behind a fiance. “PO Langsdorf leaves behind two children, a fiancé, parents and an enormous amount of friends and family,” police wrote.
Springdale Fire Protection District Battalion Chief Bill Modrosic described to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch how Langsdorf had worked as a volunteer firefighter. He also played hockey.
“I can’t believe it,” Modrosic said to the newspaper.
“He was a good man, and definitely a dedicated police officer. He liked being a firefighter, but once he became a police officer it was clear that that was what he was supposed to do.”
4. Langsdorf, Who Had Been in Law Enforcement for Almost 18 Years, Had Policing ‘In His Blood’
Langsdorf had a lengthy career in law enforcement.
“Mike’s been in law enforcement for about 18 years,” Major Martin said, adding that he worked with Langsdorf back in St. Louis, when Langsdorf was on that police force. “You want to talk about a guy who just liked to be the police. It was in his blood. He wanted to help people…he would be there for anybody anywhere. He was well liked…not a bad word to say about him.”
“Officer Langsdorf had served with the North County Police Cooperative for three months, and was a 17 year veteran of law enforcement,” the Backstoppers site wrote on Facebook, which was confirmed by the police.
The governor offered a tribute, writing on Twitter, “Today, North County Police Cooperative Officer Michael Langsdorf was shot and killed responding to a call at a Wellston business. Our prayers go out to his family and fellow officers. Officer Langsdorf was bravely carrying out his oath to serve #NeverForget.”
Jeff Roorda, Business Manager at St. Louis Police Officers Association, wrote a tribute to Langsdorf that read: “RIP OFFICER MICHAEL LANGSDORF.”
He posted the photo of Langsdorf working as a firefighter and wrote, “This picture kind of says it all for me. So much ugliness and hatred in the world and so much of it aimed at cops because of the lies a small group of very misguided radicals have told. Yet in the hearts of police, there is little more than love, compassion, courage and grace. And tonight, one less heart beats in our police family. We love you Mike and we already miss you. ‘Rage, rage against the dying light.'”
According to KMOV, the cooperative handles policing for seven counties.
5. Langsdorf Previously Worked for the St. Louis Police Department
Before working for the police cooperative, Langsdorf was an officer with the St. Louis PD. However, he was involved in controversy there that ended up with dropped charges.
According to a 2017 story in the St. Louis Post Dispatch, Langsdorf was one of four officers charged with “felony stealing and felony forgery” for allegedly falsifying overtime documents.
The charges stemmed from an operation in which Langsdorf was supposed to be helping the FBI with a drug investigation. However, according to the Post Dispatch, the charges were dropped when it turned out that the officers “worked for a drug task force and had been told to submit ambiguous time sheets to keep their assignment covert.”