The 18-year-old who was shot at 17 times by an off-duty St. Louis police officer died from a gunshot wound to the face, a medical examiner determined Thursday.
Vonderrit Myers Jr. was shot six to seven times in the lower extremities. The fatal bullet, which entered the right cheek, was recovered from his body, said Dr. Michael Graham. News of the autopsy results come after state Sen. Jamilah Nasheed suggested the teenager was shot in the back of the head at a press conference.
The officer who shot Myers has yet to be identified. St. Louis Police Chief Sam Dotson did, however, reveal the man is a 32-year-old, six-year veteran on the police force. A lawyer for the officer told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that his client is lucky to be alive.
“He’s fortunate the guy missed him,” said Brian Millikan, adding that his client, though highly trained, may have been influenced by the current atmosphere surrounding the use of force by police.
He called claims that Myers was carrying a sandwich, not a gun, “ridiculous.”
“This policeman did everything by the book with the possible exception of waiting too long,” he said. “We’re just fortunate it didn’t cost him his life.”
If you recall, police maintain Myers opened fire on the officer, who was off-duty and working a secondary job for a private security company patrolling the Shaw neighborhood. The officer approached Myers and his friends, attempting to do a “pedestrian check.” When Myers ran, the officer gave chase.
Myers turned and approached the officer in “an aggressive manner,” police said, and the officer told Myers to surrender. Myers continued to come at the officer and the two struggled. A sweatshirt the man was wearing came off during the struggle, police said.
The teen had a gun and fired at least three shots at the officer, who returned fire, the chief said. The teenager attempted to fire more but his gun jammed, Dotson said.
The officer was unhurt. The officer fired 17 times, Dotson said.
Family, friends and witnesses, however, tell a different story. Eyewitnesses from the night of the shooting said Myers was holding a sandwich when he was shot.
Relatives say he was not carrying a weapon.
Berhe Beyent, the manager of Shaw Market near the shooting scene, said Myers came in the store and bought a turkey sandwich and a soda about 10 minutes before the shooting. Beyent said he knew the young man and didn’t believe he had a gun at the time, and said it didn’t fit his personality.
An investigation continues, but Millikan says his client, though “shaken up,” welcomes any outside investigation into the case.
“We welcome any fact finder…Who is looking at it through a factual lens, not a political lens,” he said.
The shooting, which occurred on the eve of a weekend of resistance and organized protests to curb police brutality in Ferguson, prompted an immediate response from protestors calling for justice and an overhaul of a broken justice system.
Protesters along with Sen. Jamilah Nasheed also showed up outside the Police Department’s headquarters on Thursday morning, demanding the shooting be investigated by the U.S. Justice Department and a blue-ribbon panel appointed by Gov. Jay Nixon.
We’ll keep you updated with the latest.
SOURCE: STL Post-Dispatch | PHOTO CREDIT: Getty, Handout
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