Protests Resume in St. Louis over Police Shooting

Yamiche Alcindor and Doug Stanglin, USA Today, October 9, 2014

Angry protests have erupted for a second night in the Shaw neighborhood of this city after an off-duty white police officer shot and killed an African-American teenager who, police said, had fired three shots at him.

Following loud protests Wednesday night, demonstrations resumed Thursday evening when about 200 chanting people marched and stopped traffic not far from the scene where Vonderrit Myers Jr., 18, was shot.


By about 11:30 p.m. CT, the protesters had dwindled to about 15, as crowds went home for the night.

A couple of hours earlier, police and protesters clashed on Arsenal Street and Grand Boulevard, about a mile and half from where Myers was shot. Officers in riot gear carrying batons, protective helmets and body shields surrounded demonstrators. Some officers maced protesters, who coughed and choked as they inhaled the chemicals. At least one protester was arrested after being dragged off the ground screaming.

Earlier Thursday evening, dozens of protesters entered a quiet residential area on Flora Place near the shooting. There, they screamed, “No justice, no sleep.” A few moments later, a protester threw an object at a home shattering a glass window.


Minutes later protesters gathered in a circle and burned two American flags. “It’s not our flag,” said Elizabeth Vega, an artist who said she had been protesting since Brown’s death. “Our children are being killed in the street. This flag doesn’t cover black or brown people.”


Gina Gowdy, 46, stood for hours waving an upside-down American flag.

“I have three grandsons,” she said. “This has to stop. They are assassinating our black young men. People are fed up.”

Gowdy added that protesters chose to block streets because the city needs to pay attention to the issues of police brutality and racial profiling affecting residents.

Police on Wednesday cordoned off a major street in the largely African-American area near the Missouri Botanical Garden as demonstrators denounced police and smashed windows on several police cars.


Unlike the Ferguson protests, demonstrators did not attack or damage businesses and the police did not try to confront the demonstrators, move them off the street or use riot gear.

Police Chief Sam Dotson, of the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department, told reporters that the police showed a “tremendous amount of restraint” despite the damage to police cars.


Dotson said the shooting victim “was no stranger to law enforcement.”

At the time of the shooting, Myers was wearing an ankle bracelet ordered by a court as a condition of bail in a previous gun case, according to his lawyer and police, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported. Doug Hollis, a cousin of Myers and Michael Brown, disputed that report.

The family of Myers earlier held a candlelight vigil where they prayed that the “truth would come out.” Willie Kilpatrick, the family’s pastor, said the family would be meeting with police to discuss how to move forward. He said Myers “absolutely” did not have a gun.

According to the newspaper, Myers was to go on trial in November on charges of unlawful use of a weapon and resisting arrest. The case, according to court documents, involved a high-speed car chase and crash. Myers, who had been a passenger, ran from police and allegedly tossed a .380-caliber pistol in a sewage drain, where it was recovered by police.

The police chief said the shooting in Shaw unfolded after a 32-year-old officer, working off-duty for a private security firm, confronted three black teens who fled as he drove by.

After a chase on foot, one of the teens approached the officer “in an aggressive manner,” Dotson said, and refused to stop or surrender.

The two got into a “physical alteration” that pulled off the suspect’s gray-hooded sweater. As the teenager ran away, grabbing at his waist, Dotson said, the officer felt that the teenager was carrying a firearm.

Dotson said, however, that the unidentified officer, a six-year veteran of the St. Louis police department, did not open fire because “he wanted to be certain it was a gun.”

At one point, he said, the suspect allegedly turned and “pointed the gun at the officer and fired at least three rounds at the officer.” He said the suspect tried to continue firing, but his gun jammed.

The officer, who was wearing a city police uniform, responded by firing at least 17 rounds at the suspect, killing him. {snip}

Dotson said a 9mm Ruger handgun, allegedly belonging to the suspect, was recovered at the scene and a forensics search located three projectiles that had been fired at the officer.


The victim’s mother, Syreeta Myers, told The Associated Press by phone Thursday that her son wasn’t armed, as police contend. She said he was holding a sandwich when he was killed, not a gun.



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