Republican gains and protests that erupted after a white officer’s acquittal in a black suspect’s shooting death were among the top 10 stories in Missouri in 2017. The full list is:
RACE ISSUES DOMINATE AFTER OF- FICER’S ACQUITTAL IN ST. LOUIS POLICE SHOOTING
The acquittal of a white police office in the shooting death of a black suspect touched off months of protests in St. Louis, where racial tensions already were high. Hundreds of people were arrested at demonstrations after Jason Stockley was found not guilty in September of first-degree murder in the 2011 shooting death of Anthony Lamar Smith. Allegations of heavy-handed police action led to an American Civil Liberties Union lawsuit and an investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice.
Officials in Ferguson continued to implement reforms mandated in agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice since mass unrest following the police killing of Michael Brown in 2014. But city leaders say they have little to show for the half a million dollars paid to an independent monitor team overseeing the process.
An outcry about statues paying tribute to the Confederacy and its leaders led to the removal of a 103-year-old Confederate monument in St. Louis’ Forest Park.
GOP GAINS CONTROL OF GOVERNOR’S OFFICE, LEGISLATURE
Republicans rose to unprecedented power in Jefferson City. The 2017 legislative session marked the first time in Missouri history that the GOP has controlled the governor’s office while holding supermajorities in both legislative chambers. Republicans also controlled four of the five other statewide executive offices. GOP Gov. Eric Greitens used the power to appoint a board of education that ousted the state’s education commissioner and sign a right-to-work law barring mandatory union fees in workplace contracts. But labor unions gathered enough petition signatures to put the law on hold until a statewide referendum can be held in 2018. A state law took effect overturning a recent minimum wage increase in St. Louis and barring other cities from adopting minimum wages above the state level. Another new law tightened abortion regulations.
FOUR CHARGED IN DEATH OF TRANSGENDER TEEN
Four people were charged in the death of a transgender teen whose burned remains were found in September in a Missouri chicken coop near Cabool. Her eyes had been gouged out and genitals stabbed. Authorities haven’t disclosed a motive in Ally Lee Steinfeld’s killing, but insist the crime wasn’t related to her gender identity.
LAWMAKERS’ FACEBOOK POSTS CAUSE OUTRAGE
One Missouri lawmaker posted then deleted a Facebook comment hoping for President Donald Trump’s assassination while another called for the vandal of a Confederate monument to be hanged. Democratic Sen. Maria Chappelle-Nadal was censured by the Missouri Legislature for the assassination comment, which she described as frustration over Trump’s response to a white supremacist rally and violence in Charlottesville, Va. She also sent out a tweet comparing Trump to Adolf Hitler. Republican Rep. Warren Love expressed hope in a Facebook post that whoever vandalized a monument in Springfield, would be “hung from a tall tree with a long rope.” Love has said he was using old cowboy jargon.
COUPLE CHARGED IN KILLING OF WOMAN’S AUTISTIC TEEN DAUGHTER
A southwest Missouri husband and wife have been indicted in the killing of the woman’s biological daughter, an autistic teen who had recently moved in with them after spending most of her life with an adoptive family in Minnesota. Rebecca Ruud, 39, and Robert Peat Jr., 31, were charged in September with first-degree murder and child abuse resulting in the killing of Savannah Leckie. Her bone fragments were found in an Ozark County burn pile on the couple’s rural property on the same day that they wed.
MAN KILLS WESTERN MISSOURI OFFICER DURING TRAFFIC STOP
Authorities say a man killed a western Missouri police officer during a traffic stop in August and was on the run for two days before he was arrested. Ian McCarthy is charged with first-degree murder and armed criminal action in the death of Officer Gary Michael in Clinton.
MISSOURI ADDS PRESCRIPTION DRUG MONITORING PROGRAM, BUT QUESTIONS PERSIST
In July, Missouri became the final state to create a prescription drugmonitoring program. The announcement surprised lawmakers, many of whom were unaware such a program was under consideration. Critics said the program is inadequate.
EXPLOSION, FLYING BOILER KILLS THREE IN ST. LOUIS
An explosion launched a van-sized boiler through the roof a St. Louis box company and slammed much of it down onto a laundry business across the street in April, killing three people and injuring four others. Federal investigators found that the steam-filled tank, which weighed nearly 2,000 pounds (900 kilograms), was being used despite needing emergency repairs.
DAIRY QUEEN MANAGER CHARGED IN TEEN EMPLOYEE’S SUICIDE
The former manager of a small-town Missouri Dairy Queen accused of bullying a teenage employee so relentlessly that he killed himself was charged with involuntary manslaughter. Harley Branham, 22, of Fayette, was charged in February with second-degree involuntary manslaughter in the Dec. 21 death of 17-year-old Kenneth Suttner. Harassment and other charges were added in November. Branham testified during a coroner’s inquest that she never bullied Suttner.
MUSIC LEGEND CHUCK BERRY DIES
Chuck Berry, rock ‘n’ roll’s founding guitar hero and storyteller who defined the music’s joy and rebellion in such classics as “Johnny B. Goode,” ”Sweet Little Sixteen” and “Roll Over Beethoven,” died in March at his home west of St. Louis. He was 90.