An 18-year-old identified by family members as Vonderrit Myers Jr. was shot and killed by an off-duty (but uniformed) St. Louis police officer last night; police say Myers fired three shots at the officer, who then returned fire. Protests broke out near the scene of the incident, and some police cars were vandalized. St. Louis’ police chief says no demonstrators were arrested and no further injuries were reported. From the Associated Press:
St. Louis Police Chief Col. Sam Dotson said the 32-year-old officer, whom he didn’t identify, was patrolling the historic Shaw neighborhood in his police uniform for a private security company at around 7:30 p.m. Wednesday when he saw three males, and one of them ran off before stopping.
When the officer did a U-turn, all three ran, so the officer gave chase, first in his car and then by foot. During the chase, he got into a physical altercation with the one he eventually killed, Dotson said at an early-morning news conference.
Dotson said that at one point, the suspect’s shirt raised and the officer saw what he thought was a gun. “The officer said he wanted to be certain it was a gun and did not fire at that point,” he said.
The chief said the suspect, whom he didn’t identify, ran up a hill, turned and opened fired on the officer, who returned fire and killed the man.
A 23-year-old woman identifying herself as Myers’ cousin told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that Myers was not armed and was carrying a sandwich that the officer who killed him mistook for a gun; police say Myers was using a 9 mm that was recovered from the scene. The Post-Dispatch also reports that Myers “was scheduled to stand trial in November for unlawful use of a weapon and resisting arrest” on charges related to an incident on June 27 of this year.
Wednesday night’s shooting will be investigated by St. Louis police’s newly created Force Investigative Unit, which was established after officers killed 25-year-old Kajieme Powell, who was approaching them with a knife, 10 days after the death of Michael Brown in nearby Ferguson.