CLAYTON, Mo. – A man has been found guilty in the 2019 killing of a St. Louis-area police officer.
A jury reached a verdict Friday evening, finding 29-year-old Bonnette Meeks guilty of second-degree murder, armed criminal action, unlawful possession of a firearm, and resisting arrest.
“To say it’s been a long day or a long week is kind of an understatement. It’s been a long three years,” said Ron Martin, the assistant chief of police for the North County Police Cooperative.
Investigators said Meeks shot North County Police Cooperative Officer Michael Langsdorf in the head during a struggle inside a Wellston food market in June of 2019.
Langsdorf was 40 years old when he was shot and killed in that incident while on duty. Police said Langsdorf was responding to a bad check complaint at the market when the deadly incident took place.
During the trial, prosecutors told jurors that Meeks tried to cash two suspicious checks worth more than $7,000 at the store. Prosecutors said the struggle and shooting happened when Langsdorf responded and tried to handcuff Meeks. But Meeks’ lawyer argued during the trial that Langsdorf did not identify himself as a police officer and that only his hat identified him as a police officer.
During closing arguments Friday morning, prosecutors argued that what Meeks did “was not necessary, it was not self-defense, it was murder.” But Meeks’ defense painted a much different picture. His attorney called Langsdorf a “bully” who felt “disrespected” because Meeks tried to walk away from him when Langsdorf first arrived.
Meeks’ attorney said Meeks was only trying to defend himself because Langsdorf put him into chokeholds multiple times. His lawyer told the jury that Meeks was “attacked first” by Langsdorf and that the “initial aggressor was Michael Langsdorf.”
The attorney argued that “the person trying to survive was Bonette Meeks” and that Meeks shot Langsdorf because “he felt he had no choice” and “the fight wasn’t over.”
Chris King, a spokesman for the St. Louis County prosecution team, provided FOX 2 with the following explanation for the verdict of second-degree murder and not first-degree murder.
“The big differentiator between murder one and murder two was ‘sudden passion,’” he said. “So, it seems like the jury accepted the defense argument that there was an aspect of sudden passion rather than our argument — the prosecuting attorney’s office argument — that it was a premeditated murder and he had plenty a chance to get away rather than shoot him in the neck and kill him.”
Meeks will have a sentencing hearing in September.
North County Police Cooperative release the following statement:
The past three years have been daunting, to say the least, and while the verdict will not bring back P.O. Langsdorf, it certainly offers some closure for the family and friends of P.O. Langsdorf, as well as the North County Police Cooperative.
We would like to thank Wesley Bell’s Office, the St. Ann Police Department, and the St. Louis County Police Department for their assistance with the case.
As we await the sentencing date of Bonette Meeks, we ask that you continue to keep P.O. Langsdorf’s family and friends in your thoughts and prayers.
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