Another fatal officer-involved shooting has happened in St. Louis, followed by more tension and protests.
The shooting on Shaw Boulevard in south St. Louis left an 18-year-old black male dead. Relatives identified him to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch as Vonderrit Myers, Junior.
Police say the officer that shot him was off duty but in uniform, working for a private security firm that provides security for the area.
St. Louis Police Chief Sam Dotson says three men ran from the officer and when he pursued them, one, Myers, turned and attacked him. During that struggle, Dotson says Myers’ hooded sweatshirt came off.
“At that point the officer clearly sees the suspect is armed with a gun,” says Dotson. “We recovered a 9mm Ruger from the scene. The officer says he wanted to be certain it was a gun and did not fire at that point.”
After the struggle, Dotson says Myers ran up a hill, then turned and pointed the gun at the officer.
“The suspect … fired at least three rounds at the police officer. We believe this to be true because there are three projectiles that we recovered, the trajectories going toward the officer down the hill, and one piece of ballistic evidence located behind the officer,” says Dotson. “At that point the officer returned fire. As the officer moved toward the suspect, the suspect continued to pull the trigger on his gun. Once we recovered the gun we learned that that gun malfunctioned and it was jammed.”
Dotson says because Myers kept attempting to shoot, the officer fired 17 shots. Dotson doesn’t know how many hit Myers.
Dotson says the Department’s Force Investigative Unit will investigate the incident. It will hand over its findings to the Circuit Attorney’s Office for a decision on whether the officer acted appropriately.
In protests that followed the shooting, angry crowds shouted anti-police slogans and obscenities at officers and several police vehicles were damaged. Some vehicles’ signal lights or windows were broken. Some on social media said they also heard shots being fired.
Dotson says his officers dealt with the tension well.
“The officers on the scene, in the face of severe criticism, did an excellent job,” says Dotson. “I think that I had a pastor from an area church come up and say that the police department, the officers, showed a tremendous amount of restraint.”
See the media conference with Chief Dotson below: