Autopsy: St. Louis Officer Shot Myers From Behind
ST. LOUIS (AP) — An 18-year-old killed earlier this month by a St. Louis police officer was shot several times from behind, the pathologist who performed a private autopsy said Thursday.
Pathologist Dr. Cyril Wecht, who conducted the autopsy at the request of Vonderrit Myers Jr.’s family, outlined his findings at a news conference. Attorneys for the family say the findings suggest that Myers was running away from the officer during the fatal Oct. 8 confrontation.
Police did not immediately return a message seeking comment.
Wecht said Myers was struck eight times and six of the wounds were to the back side of his body. The fatal wound was to the side of the head. Police have said Myers shot first at the officer. Wecht said the autopsy found gunpowder residue on Myers.
Earlier this month, police released details of lab tests by the Missouri State Highway Patrol that showed gunshot residue on Myers’ hand, waistband and shirt. Police union leaders said the finding dispelled claims by Myers’ family that he didn’t shoot at the officer.
The family has claimed Myers was unarmed, and that the officer mistook a sandwich he was holding for a gun.
St. Louis Police Officers’ Association business manager Jeff Roorda cited other evidence against Myers during a news conference earlier this month: Social media photos that Roorda said show Myers holding three guns, one of them a 9 mm Smith & Wesson. Roorda said it is likely the gun Myers used to shoot at the officer.
Roorda and St. Louis city medical examiner Dr. Michael Graham did not immediately return messages for comment Thursday.
The shooting set off a new round of intense protests similar to those in Ferguson after 18-year-old Michael Brown’s death. Both Brown and Myers were black. Both officers are white. A grand jury is expected to decide by mid-November whether criminal charges will be filed against Darren Wilson, the Ferguson officer who shot the unarmed Brown.
The St. Louis officer in the Myers shooting has not been named and is on administrative leave while the case is investigated.
The officer was off duty and doing patrol work for a security job in a neighborhood near the Missouri Botanical Garden in south St. Louis. Although he wasn’t on police time, he was wearing his uniform and armed with his department-issued gun, which is common practice in St. Louis.
St. Louis Police Chief Sam Dotson has said the officer became suspicious when Myers and the men with him started to run. A chase ensued and the officer and Myers got into a physical confrontation. After Myers pulled away, Dotson said, he went up a hill and started shooting at the officer.
Ballistic evidence shows Myers fired three shots before his gun jammed, Dotson said. Police said they recovered the gun, which had been reported stolen in September.