St. Louis City Circuit Attorney Jennifer Joyce has co-designated the U.S. Attorney’s Office to investigate and review the case of VonDerrit Myers Jr., a black 18-year-old man who was shot and killed by an off-duty police officer in the Shaw neighborhood on Wednesday night.
A St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department officer working a second job as a security officer shot and killed Myers, discharging his weapon 17 times, according to St. Louis Public Radio.
Joyce told the St. Louis American that the federal investigator would give “another set of eyes” on the case.
“These are people who don’t work as closely with the St. Louis Police Department as we do,” Joyce said. “They can also file federal charges if warranted.”
Today about 20 of Myers’ family and friends gathered at the corner of Shaw Boulevard and Klemm Street.
Neighbors said that Myers was a “good kid” and a community college student. His family has lived on a street nearby for more than 20 years. However, the group who gathered told reporters that they did not want to comment yet.
Willie Kilpatrick, a pastor for the Prince of Peace Missionary Baptist Church at 9350 Natural Bridge, told the St. Louis American that Myers was a part of his congregation. Kilpatrick said the family would give a statement after they had time to put some thought into it.
“They need time to grieve,” he said.
According to the police press release, the officer drove past three males, “one of the males began to run, but then stopped.”
When the officer then did a u-turn, the males ran from the area, according to the statement. The officer followed the men through several streets, got out of his car and 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 release stated. “The suspect then began to approach the officer in an aggressive manner.”
The officer asked the Myers to surrender, but he moved toward the officer, according to police.
“The suspect and the officer then got into a physical altercation, with hands on each other,” it stated.
While fighting Myers’ hooded sweatshirt came off of him, and he 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,” according to the police statement.
Myers allegedly fired three rounds toward the officer.
“Three projectiles were recovered going toward the officer, down the hill, with ballistic evidence, a bullet in a vehicle, located behind the officer,” it stated.
“Fearing for his safety,” the officer returned fire. Upon recovery of the gun, investigation revealed the gun had malfunctioned and had jammed after firing at least three rounds. Allegedly Myers continued to point the gun toward the officer and pull the trigger, and the officer continued to fire shots at the suspect, fatally wounding him.
“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 incident happened just before the two-month anniversary of the shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown, an unarmed black man who was killed by a white police officer in Ferguson on August 9. There is a series of protests and other activities scheduled in his honor over the weekend.