[UPDATED] St. Louis Police Officer Kills Teenager in Shaw Neighborhood, Ignites Fresh Protests

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Chief Sam Dotson says the deceased had a gun and "was no stranger to law enforcement." - DANNY WICENTOWSKI
  • Danny Wicentowski
  • Chief Sam Dotson says the deceased had a gun and "was no stranger to law enforcement."

Updated 10 a.m. with information regarding previous charges against the deceased suspect for unlawful use of a weapon and resisting arrest.

Updated 1:15 p.m. with police incident summary of shooting as well as information regarding damage to police vehicles and an arrest of an individual during the protests following the shooting.

Updated 3:45 p.m. with news that the St. Louis Circuit Attorneys Office plans to partner with the U.S. Attorney's Office to investigate the shooting.

A St. Louis police officer, working a secondary job for a private security firm, shot and killed an eighteen-year-old male Wednesday while patrolling the Shaw Neighborhood.

According to police, the officer was in his police uniform, but working for Hi-Tech Security around 7:30 p.m. yesterday, when he drove past three young African American males in the 4100 block of Shaw Boulevard. Upon seeing the officer, the group began to run. St. Louis Metropolitan Police Chief Sam Dotson told reporters at a press conference last night that based on the way one of the men was running -- "holding his waistband, not running at full stride" -- the officer believed he had a gun.

The 32-year-old officer (and six-year veteran of the force) then followed that individual on foot through a gangway. Moments later, the officer and the suspect got into a "physical altercation," according to Dotson, in which the teen lost his grey hoodie and the officer observed a gun.

A police detective reviews the scene this morning near where Vonderitt Myers was shot along Shaw Boulevard. - CHAD GARRISON
  • Chad Garrison
  • A police detective reviews the scene this morning near where Vonderitt Myers was shot along Shaw Boulevard.

The suspect then ran up a hill and turned to fire three shots at the officer and kept pulling the trigger but his gun jammed, according to police. Responding to those initial shots, the officer fired back, killing the suspect.The officer was uninjured, and police say he fired a total of seventeen shots in return.

Relatives of the slain teen told reporters on the scene that the deceased's name was Vonderitt Myers Jr. In his press conference hours later, Dotson said that the suspect was "no stranger to law enforcement." Court records show that Myers faced a felony charge of unlawful use of a weapon stemming from a June 27 incident. Myers also faced a misdemeanor charge of resisting and/or interfering with an arrest for the same incident.

Updated information 10:00 a.m.: According to a probable cause statement (viewable below), Myers was a passenger in a vehicle involved in a high-speed chase early in the morning of June 27. After the vehicle crashed in the 1100 block of South Grand Boulevard, Myers exited the vehicle and ran -- ignoring a police officer's command to stop. During the pursuit, Myers allegedly retrieved a Hi-Point 380 caliber semi-automatic pistol from his person and threw it in a sewage drain. Additional court documents indicate that Myers was released from jail after making a cash payment of $1,000 -- 10 percent of his $10,000 bond. He was slated to go to trial on November 17.

Last night's shooting will be the first case reviewed by the police department's Force Investigative Unit that was established to audit police shootings after St. Louis cops shot and killed a knife-wielding man in August.

News of last night's fatal police shooting quickly ignited fresh tensions in the region where protesters continue to demand justice for Michael Brown, the eighteen-year-old teenager killed by Ferguson police on August 9.

At least 200 protesters soon swelled the area near the shooting with police closing off part of Grand Boulevard to traffic. Protesters damaged a few police cars during the demonstration.

Updated information 1:15 p.m.: Police say three of their vehicles sustained damage during the unrest last night with protesters damaging the hood and fender and breaking the taillights on a 2011 Chevy Tahoe, breaking windows on a 2013 Tahoe and damaging the door and breaking windows on a 2007 Mercury Grand Marquis. At 1:00 a.m. today police also arrested a 32-year-old man near the protests at Grand Boulevard and Russell Avenue. Police say the man was wearing a ski mask and found to be a felon with the unlawful possession of a handgun.

Updated at 3:45: This afternoon Mayor Francis Slay announced that Circuit Attorney Jennifer Joyce will team with the U.S. Attorney's Office to determine what -- if any -- charges to file against the officer. That decision will come after the Force Investigative Unit delivers its case to the Circuit Attorney's Office. And, like the situation in St. Louis County where a grand jury is determining whether to charge Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson for shooting Michael Brown, prosecutors plan to release all information regarding the case should charges not be issued. "I believe it will add an extra layer of independence to a policy that is already open and transparent," said Slay in an online statement.

Here's the official account of last night's shooting from the police:

Incident: Officer-Involved Shooting Location: 4100 block of Shaw Date/Time: 10/8/14 @ 19:28 Victim: 32-year old white male (St. Louis Police Officer with 6 years of service) Suspect: Vonderrit D. Myers, Jr., 18-year old black male of the 4200 block of Castleman

The officer was working secondary for a private security company patrolling the Shaw neighborhood. As the officer drove past three males, one of the males began to run, but then stopped. The officer then did a u-turn, and observed the males run from the area. The officer followed the males' path, through several streets, at one point exiting his vehicle, when he followed one of the males through a gangway. The officer observed the male running and holding his waistband, causing the officer to believe the suspect had a gun. The suspect then began to approach the officer in an aggressive manner. The officer gave the suspect verbal commands, instructing him to surrender. The suspect continued to move toward the officer. The suspect and the officer then got into a physical altercation, with hands on each other. During the altercation, the suspect's hooded sweatshirt came off of him. The suspect then ran from the officer, up a hill in the 4100 block of Shaw. At this time, the officer saw the suspect was armed with what he believed to be a gun. The officer wanted to be certain what the suspect had was a gun, and did not immediately fire at the suspect. The suspect then turned toward the officer, pointed the gun at the officer and fired at least three rounds. Three projectiles were recovered going toward the officer, down the hill, with ballistic evidence, a bullet in a vehicle, located behind the officer. As the suspect fired at the officer, fearing for his safety, the officer returned fire. As the officer moved toward the suspect, the suspect continued to pull the trigger. Upon recovery of the gun, investigation revealed the gun had malfunctioned and had jammed after firing at least three rounds. As the suspect continued to point the gun toward the officer and pull the trigger, the officer continued to fire shots at the suspect, fatally wounding him. The suspect was pronounced deceased on the scene. The suspect's 9mm handgun was recovered at the scene. The gun was reported stolen on 9/26/14. Per department policy, the officer has been placed on administrative leave. To clarify, secondary employment allows officers to work security in uniform and carry their department-issued weapons. The officer, while not on duty for the Police Department, still has the same responsibilities and power to affect arrest and the officer operates in the capacity as a St. Louis Police Officer. St. Louis Police Officers work secondary for securities companies, business establishments, sporting events, etc. The Force Investigative Unit responded and is investigating. The investigation is ongoing.

And here's the probable cause statement regarding Myer's June 27 arrest for possession of a handgun and resisting arrest.

Vonderrit Myers probable cause statement


Email the author at chad.garrison@riverfronttimes.com.

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