VonDerrit D. Myers Jr. was shot eight times, mostly on the back of the legs, with one fatal shot to the side of the head, according to an independent autopsy report.
Myers’ family hired pathologist Dr. Cyril H. Wecht to conduct a study of the gun wounds from October 8, when Myers was shot and killed by an off-duty St. Louis Metropolitan Police officer.
Six bullets struck Myers on the rear part of his body and the other two were “not directly frontal,” Wecht said. One shot hit him on the right side of the face, between the eyebrow and the ear. Another shot struck him on the side of his left thigh.
Wecht said he did not know the order in which the wounds were inflicted. However, he said the head wound would have rendered him unconscious immediately. Wecht also investigated the deaths of John F. Kennedy, Elvis Presley and JonBenet Ramsey.
One of the family’s lawyers, Jermaine Wooten, said the report’s findings – showing almost all shots from behind – contradict the story of the police officer, who has not been identified. Police representatives have said that Myers was facing the officer the entire time.
However, Myers had to have been facing away from the officer for the first shots, Wooten said, because he could not have endured the two shots to the side and remained standing. The head wound rendered him unconscious, and the shot to his left thigh shattered his femur, dropping him immediately.
Wooten said the report supports the accounts given by eyewitnesses – that Myers allegedly turned to run. He did not face the officer and fire a weapon, as the officer alleges, Wooten said. As he ran, the officer allegedly shot him in the back, Wooten said.
According to Wooten, eyewitnesses have said that Myers was unarmed when the officer, a 32-year-old white male with six years on the force, fired 17 shots at him. Witnesses also have said the officer was also not dressed in a police uniform as police officials claimed, according to Wooten.
The lawyers met with the police department’s medical examiner Dr. Michael Graham, who said Myers’ DNA does not appear on the gun that he was allegedly carrying.
“If he had been carrying the gun, it would have had his DNA,” Wooten said.
The medical examiner’s full report won’t be complete for another couple months, he said. At Wecht’s press conference, police investigators served him with a subpoena to turn over his autopsy report to a grand jury reviewing the case.
The officer’s attorney, Brian Millikan, said Wecht’s autopsy findings support the statement that the officer gave early on.
“It doesn’t change anything for us at all,” Millikan said. “Myers had a gun that night, and there’s forensic evidence that he did use it.
Millikan said that Myers was facing the officer the entire time. However, at one point during the gunfight, Millikan said, Myers was lying on his side facing the officer, but somehow the backs of his legs were exposed to the policeman’s position.
“It’s hard to explain it over the phone,” Millikan said. “He was lying on his side. His description will be in the police report.”
The officer is currently on administrative leave.
According to police, the officer was working a second job as a GCI Security officer for the Flora Street neighborhood when he saw three young African-American men on Shaw Boulevard – three blocks from the street the officer was hired to patrol.
The officer became suspicious when the males allegedly ran from the area, police officials said. Police said the officer followed the young men through several streets, got out of his car and then followed Myers through a gangway. The two got into a “physical altercation,” according to police, and then Myers allegedly ran up a hill and then turned and fired three rounds toward the officer. “Fearing for his safety,” the officer returned fire, according to police.
The incident happened just before the two-month anniversary of the shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown, an unarmed black teen who was killed by a white police officer in Ferguson on August 9. Both Brown and Myers were black. The officers who shot them are both white. Myers’ death incited several protests during the Ferguson October weekend of civil disobedience actions to bring awareness to police brutality.
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