Senator Wants Federal Probe of St. Louis Shooting

Jim Salter, ABC News, October 9, 2014

A state senator and other black leaders on Thursday called for the Justice Department to investigate the fatal shooting of a black 18-year-old by a white St. Louis police officer, an incident that some protesters are likening to the death of Michael Brown in nearby Ferguson.

St. Louis Police Chief Sam Dotson said the 18-year-old, identified by his mother and police as Vonderrit D. Myers, shot at the off-duty officer Wednesday night and the officer returned fire. The shooting led to an angry protest.

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.

“Police lie. They lied about Michael Brown, too,” she said.

Vonderrit Myers and his mother.

Vonderrit Myers and his mother.

More than 20 black leaders gathered for a news conference outside police headquarters and questioned why the officer approached Vonderrit Myers in the first place.

“This here was racial profiling turned deadly,” state Sen. Jamilah Nasheed said.

The St. Louis Democrat said that in addition to requesting a Justice Department investigation, she will ask Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon to appoint a special panel to look into concerns about profiling and police use of deadly force. {snip}

Dotson said the St. Louis officer, who was wearing his uniform despite being off-duty, was working a security job and patrolling a neighborhood near the Missouri Botanical Gardens around 7:30 p.m. Wednesday when he saw three males walking. When the officer did a U-turn in his vehicle, all three ran, Dotson said.

The officer chased them, first in his car and then on foot. During the chase, he got into a physical altercation with Myers. The officer thought he saw a gun on Myers at one point, but did not fire because he wanted to be sure, Dotson said.

The chief said Myers ran up a hill, turned and fired at the officer, who shot back and killed him.

Ballistic evidence shows Myers fired three shots at the officer before the gun jammed, Dotson said, adding that the 9mm gun was recovered. The officer, who wasn’t hurt, fired off 17 rounds but it’s not clear how many bullets struck Myers.

{snip}

Police spokeswoman Schron Jackson confirmed the officer is white. The department hasn’t released his name, but said he is 32 years old and has been on the St. Louis force for six years.

The Ferguson case was on the minds of protesters who gathered after the latest shooting, with some shouting “Hands up, don’t shoot”–a common refrain during the weeks of sometimes violent protests in the wake of Brown’s death. Dotson said some in the St. Louis crowd shouted obscenities at officers and damaged police cars, but no protesters were arrested.

Online court documents show Vonderrit Myers was charged in June in St. Louis with the unlawful use of a weapon, a felony, and misdemeanor resisting arrest. A hearing that had been scheduled for Monday was continued until Nov. 17. It wasn’t clear if he had a juvenile record. {snip}

{snip}

[Editor’s Note: From the St. Louis Post-Dispatch:

An autopsy has shown that Vonderrit Myers Jr. was shot from five to seven times during a fatal encounter with an off-duty police officer Wednesday, police sources said.

Sen. Jamilah Nasheed suggested at a press conference earlier today that the teen had been shot in the back of the head, but medical examiners did not find any gunshots to the back of Myers’ head, police sources said.

There were seven wounds to the teen’s body, five of which are clearly bullet holes. Investigators still are trying to determine if the other wounds are exit wounds, sources said.]

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