April V. Taylor
The Associated Press is reporting that an independent autopsy that was conducted by Dr. Cyril Wecht at the request of slain teen Vonderrit Myers’ family shows that Myers was shot 8 times, six of those shots were to the back of his legs. Wecht stated during a news conference that a wound to the side of Myers’ face was most likely the fatal injury. The controversy surrounding Wecht’s findings is that, according to attorneys for Myers’ family, they do not appear to corroborate the story given by police about the events that led to Myers’ death.
Jerryl Christmas, who is one of the attorneys for Myers’ family stated to the AP that, “The evidence shows that the story we’ve been given by the Police Department does not match up. There’s no evidence that there was a gun battle going on.” Jermain Wooten, another attorney for the family made a statement to the St. Louis American stated that the independent autopsy’s finding that nearly all of the shots came from behind is a contradiction of the police officer’s account that Myers’ was facing him the entire time. Attorneys for the family are also stating that Myers’ was shot while fleeing and then killed execution-style with a bullet to the head.
According to Wooten, eyewitness accounts state that Myers’ was lying on the ground screaming for the officer to stop shooting when he received the fatal, downward shot to his head.
According to Brian Millikan, who the attorney for the police officer who shot Myers’, the autopsy findings do support the story that Myers’ was lying on the ground and turned to fire three shots at the officer before the officer returned fire by unloading his gun. While police have released a gunshot residue report that shows that Myers’ had gunshot residue on his hand, waistband and shirt and that this came from Myer’s firing at the officer, family members have insisted that Myers’ was unarmed. The report acknowledges that the gunshot residue does not necessarily indicate that Myers’ fired a gun, only that he was near a firearms when it was discharged or that he touched an object with gunshot residue on it.
The St. Louis American is also reporting that Dr. Michael Graham, the police department’s medical examiner, met with the family’s attorneys regarding the fact that Myers’ DNA was not found on the gun that he was allegedly carrying. Myers’ family attorney Wooten stated, “If he had been carrying the gun, it would have had his DNA.”
The police department has edited its narrative of events multiple times initially stating that Myers’ fled, then got into a “physical confrontation,” with the officer and then fled again, shooting at the officer as he fled. The story has recently been edited to state that Myers’ was shot as he fell forward on the ground while pointing a gun 180 degrees at the officer behind him.
The officer who shot Myers’ has not been identified and has been placed on administrative leave. While it seems unclear what really happened between Myers’ and the officer for Myers’ to wind up dead, what is clear is that much like what happened with slain unarmed teen Michael Brown in nearby Ferguson, the account given by eyewitnesses and independent autopsy findings appears to contradict the official police narrative of events.