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

ACLU troubled by St. Louis plan for citywide surveillance

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.

Surveillance cameras (courtesy; Wikipedia commons)

Surveillance cameras (courtesy; Wikipedia commons)

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 would set St. Louis apart is the 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

Five-run sixth inning filled with some drama as Royals come roaring back to even World Series

Billy Butler connects for an RBI single in the sixth giving the Royals the lead (photo/MLB)

Billy Butler connects for an RBI single in the sixth giving the Royals the lead (photo/MLB)

On my preview of Game 2 of the World Series, heard across our Missourinet radio network on Wednesday afternoon, I stated the key for the Royals to win game two was for pitcher Yordano Ventura to be able to get into the sixth inning keeping it a one run game in either direction.

Royals manager Ned Yost needed to be able to get this game to his dominant bullpen if they wanted hopes of tying this series up.  The rookie pitcher did exactly that.  He pitched into the sixth, ran into trouble, but got bailed out by Kelvin Herrera who was hitting 100+ mph on the radar gun.

The bats came alive to chase Jake Peavy and beat up on a rusty San Francisco bullpen for five runs in the sixth, pushing the Royals to a 7-2 victory.  The Series moves to San Francisco on Friday tied up at 1-1.

The game had an eerie feeling to it when Gregor Blanco led off the game hitting a 3-2 pitch from Ventura into the right field bullpen to give the Giants another first inning lead.  However, Ventura showed great poise and retired the next three in order.

The Royals’ hitters were in a bit of a dilemma.  They needed to show a little more patience at the plate than what they did in game one, but the scouting report on Jake Peavy is to attack him early.  After Peavy gave up a lead off single to Alcides Escobar, his second baseman Joe Panik made a great play on a throw from Buster Posey to nab Escobar at second trying to steal.  With two outs, Lorenzo Cain doubled and Peavy made the mistake of walking Eric Hosmer.  That brought up Billy Butler who had 13-career hits against Peavy coming into the game and Butler laced a single into left center tying the game at 1-1 after the first.

A two-out double by Escobar in the second gave the Royals the lead after Omar Infante’s one out double.

The Giants have had success so far in this series getting the leadoff batter home when they reach base.  Pablo Sandoval doubled and scored on Brandon Belt’s double tying the game a 2-2 in the fourth.  The Royals caught a break when a fly ball to Nori Aoki in right field warranted a hard throw back into the infield as Belt acted as if he would tag up.  The throw in from Aoki was off the mark.  As the ball got away on the infield, Belt started for third, but tried to turn back.  Ventura got the loose ball and fired to second picking Belt off ending the threat.

The Giants put the leadoff hitter on again in the fifth and then in sixth on a single by Buster Posey.  A one out infield single from Hunter Pence put two men on and prompted Yost to go to Herrera.  Throwing as hard as 101 mph, Herrera coaxed a fly out and force out to end the threat.

Now the Royals were ready for Peavy who had settled down after the first two innings to retire ten straight.  Interesting fact about Peavy in the postseason.  In his seven previous starts, Peavy has never been able to finish the sixth inning.  We’re talking about a previous Cy Young winner and three time All-Star.

With a pitch count of only 54, it looked like Peavy was in shape to get through seven or possibly eight, but the Royals responded.  Lorenzo Cain singled and Eric Hosmer walked and just like that Peavy’s night was done, making it an eighth straight playoff non-quality start.

The Giants needed four pitchers to get through the inning after Jean Machi gave up a single to left for Butler’s second RBI of the game.  Javier Lopez faced Alex Gordon and Hunter Strickland came on and gave up an RBI double to Salvador Perez following a wild pitch, scoring two more runs.  Strickland then gave up a two run homer to Infante and the benches briefly cleared after a misunderstanding at home plate between Strickland and Perez.

Frustration was clearly boiling over for a San Francisco bullpen that had been just as effective as Kansas City’s in the postseason.  The Giants ‘pen entered Game Two having gone 10.2 innings without allowing a run.

“We showed them that we have fight in us, and I think they knew that already,” said Butler. We stepped up big there as a team, and that gave us some confidence.”

With a 7-2 lead, Herrera, after sitting for a half-hour struggled early in the seventh, but finished it off.  Then Wade Davis and Greg Holland got in some work and closed it out.

Those three relievers combined for 3.2 innings, one hit, two walks and six strikeouts.   Prior to the start of the World Series, the Royals bullpen went 16 innings against Baltimore and allowed just two runs.

The advantage leans heavily towards the Royals bullpen, but National League ballpark rules come into play.  The factors to watch in San Francisco is how Yost will handle the pitcher batting and double switches in late-inning situations.

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