October 24, 2014

Autopsy of St. Louis teen claimed to support two versions of shooting

Two sides say a private autopsy of the 18-year-old teen fatally shot by an off-duty St. Louis Police officer October 8 backs up their positions.

Doctor Cyril Wecht presents the findings of the autopsy he conducted on the body of Vonderrit Myers, Junior.  (photo credit; KTVI)

Doctor Cyril Wecht presents the findings of the autopsy he conducted on the body of Vonderrit Myers, Junior. (photo credit; KTVI)

The family of Vonderrit Myers, Junior, paid forensic pathologist Doctor Cyril Wecht to conduct the autopsy. He found that Myers was shot eight times.

“Six of the eight gunshot wound were directed posteriorly. They struck Mister Myers on the rear part of his body,” says Wecht. “The other two shots were frontal but toward the side, not directly frontal.”

It was one of those nearly frontal wounds, on the right side of the head, that Wecht says killed Myers.

“The head wound would have rendered Vonderrit immediately unconscious,” says Wecht. “The brain would have been extensively damaged. There is no way in the world that Vonderrit would have been able to talk, move, think, act, or do anything at all once that head would was sustained.”

Wecht says the findings indicate Myers was being shot while fleeing up a steep hill, though he later said the leg wounds could have been suffered while Myers was lying down.

Lawyers for Myers’ family say the findings support their claim that he was fleeing and begging for his life when he was shot.

The Attorney for the officer says the findings match his story; that Myers shot at him first and that Myers fell to his side, suffering the leg wounds then when the officer returned fire. He says the fatal shot came after Myers refused the order to drop his gun.

Police have said forensic evidence backs up the officer’s claim that Myers shot at him at least three times before the officer returned fire, and say a gun was recovered at the scene that matched three bullets recovered from the ground near where the officer was during the incident.

The final reports from both the private and the city’s autopsies are still being compiled.

Earlier story:  St. Louis officer fatally shoots one, angry protests follow

The St. Louis Police Department’s proposal to set up an extensive city-wide surveillance system has been called “disturbing” by the American Civil Liberties Union.

The ACLU’s 36-page study of a plan to link government surveillance cameras with private business cameras with no limits on how long information is kept is called “troubling.” Missouri Executive Director Jeffrey Mittman says similar scenarios are likely happening in other cities.

What elevates St. Louis is possible formation of a Real Time Intelligence Center. Mittman says different constitutional questions are involved. “If the intention…is to increase the storage capability so that data can be kept for longer periods of time, that’s a yellow, orange, and in some cases red flag,” he says. “If an intention..is to include private business camera which do not have the same protections that governmental cameras have…again, very large red flag.”

Mittman says having a camera or two on intersection poles is different from having a network of cameras throughout a city that can monitor citizens 24 hours a day. He praises the city for contacting the ACLU and for trying to put some policies in place.  But he says the situation might require state legislation.

The St. Louis Police Department’s proposal to set up an extensive city-wide surveillance system has been called “disturbing” by the American Civil Liberties Union.

The ACLU’s 36-page study of a plan to link government surveillance cameras with private business cameras with no limits on how long information is kept is called “troubling.” Missouri Executive Director Jeffrey Mittman says similar scenarios are likely happening in other cities.

What elevates St. Louis is possible formation of a Real Time Intelligence Center. Mittman says different constitutional questions are involved. “If the intention…is to increase the storage capability so that data can be kept for longer periods of time, that’s a yellow, orange, and in some cases red flag,” he says. “If an intention..is to include private business camera which do not have the same protections that governmental cameras have…again, very large red flag.”

Mittman says having a camera or two on intersection poles is different from having a network of cameras throughout a city that can monitor citizens 24 hours a day. He praises the city for contacting the ACLU and for trying to put some policies in place.  But he says the situation might require state legislation.

AUDIO: mittman interview 18:03

http://www.missourinet.com/2014/10/24/88761/

Alderman, Justice Department slam Michael Brown investigation leaks

A stream of evidence in the Michael Brown shooting investigation has been leaking out in recent days, and that’s alarming some St. Louis community leaders.

St. Louis Alderman Antonio French

St. Louis Alderman Antonio French

People claiming to know officer Darren Wilson’s version of what happened when Michael Brown was shot have talked to the media, and now the second of three autopsy reports has been released. St. Louis Alderman Antonio French says even with everything else that’s been reported to date, there is still no knowing what happened that day.

“What I’m alarmed by is the way this is being tried in the public and that information is being leaked out and we’re not getting a clear picture of everything,” says French.

Instead, he tells CNN, his community is still waiting for the opportunity to move on.

“I think one of the things that we’ve asked for from the beginning is that the only way that this thing can happen in a way that actually gives the community what they’re asking for is a public trial,” says French, “and I’m concerned that the way this information is being leaked out that it really does not give much credence to the process and it doesn’t restore faith in the process.”

French says if officer Darren Wilson is not indicted, he worries about what will happen not just in the short-term, but also in the long-term.

“Our community has been really ripped apart and we’ve got a lot of healing to do. We have people that need to come together in the end of the day because we all have to live together,” says French. “The only way that we’re going to lay that groundwork for a better future I think is to really do this in a fair way that gets all the information out there and then most reasonable people can feel somewhat satisfied that the process worked, and I don’t think we’re seeing that right now.”

French wants to know who’s behind the leaks and to have them stopped.

Bob McCulloch and Attorney General Holder should be launching investigations into who is leaking this info. Police? Attorneys? Jurors?

However a St. Louis County prosecutor’s office spokesman tells the Los Angeles Times the leaks don’t appear to be coming from his office or the grand jury, and says his office won’t be looking into them.

“There’s really nothing to investigate,” Magee told the times. “We don’t have control over anybody leaking anything. All we can control is people in our office and the grand jury.”

Magee further said that his office can’t force journalists to divulge their sources and suggested the information could be coming from federal officials.

The Justice Department tells the Times that’s not happening.

“The department considers the selective release of information in this investigation to be irresponsible and highly troubling,” the department told the Times in a statement. “Since the release of the convenience store footage, there seems to be an inappropriate effort to influence public opinion about this case.”

The statement refers to the release of footage from a convenience store security camera that apparently shows Brown participating in theft of cigars from the store and the intimidation of the clerk, not long before the shooting.

Senators: Is Missouri ready for Ebola? (AUDIO)

Some state lawmakers want to make sure state agencies have the resources and the authority they need to keep Ebola away from Missouri, or to deal with it if it shows up.

The Public Safety Department says is has a response plan in place to deal with any disaster–including a contagious disease outbreak. But it would take orders from the Health Department. Health director Gail Vasterling says the department has been keeping local responders and providers up to date, telling a panel of legislators,  “The Department..has since July sent out ten health alerts with regard to Ebola.”   Each one has a 24-hour hotline number that links hospitals and health workers  to the state or regional epidemiologists.

Gail Vasterling

Some Senators want the department to have power to order protocols to be followed when local reports of suspected Ebola cases are received. Some of them suggest Governor Nixon should impose travel bans although Vasterling says federal officials will tell the department if anyone from an infected country is coming to Missouri, and the department will have local officials keep an eye on them until the incubation period ends and arrange treatment if a case develops.

AUDIO: Hearing, part 1

AUDIO: Hearing, part 2

Disaster declaration sought for 20 MO counties hit by Sept storms

Governor Nixon has asked the federal government to declare 20 counties in northern Missouri a disaster area, due to severe storms September 9 and 10. The declaration would allow local governments to seek assistance for the costs of response and recovery.

File photo of flooding near Waynesville.

File photo of flooding near Waynesville.

Nixon says strong winds damaged schools and other public buildings and some areas experienced days of flooding. He says assessments revealed damage to roads, bridges, and low water crossings. During the storms’ peak impact, 70 roads were closed including parts of I-29 and U.S. 36.

In a statement Nixon writes, “The response and recovery costs to the affected communities – some of which had already been hit by damaging severe storms in May and June – will be extensive, and federal assistance with these costs will help the entire region rebuild and move forward.”

Nixon is asking for the disaster declaration in Adair, Andrew, Atchison, Daviess, Gentry, Grundy, Harrison, Holt, Knox, Lewis, Linn, Livingston, Macon, Mercer, Nodaway, Putnam, Ralls, Shelby, Sullivan and Worth counties.