Teen killed by off-duty officer – shot 18 times
compiled from various sources – October 2017
submitted by – Taibah Arif
Any news updates on this case will be listed at the foot of this item
Vonderrit Myers Jr, aged 18 years-old, was killed on 8 October 2014 when he was shot multiple times by an off-duty St. Louis police officer, Jason Flanery, who was working a secondary job for a private security company at the time. He was struck by up to eight bullets, “All but one gunshot wound were to the lower extremities. The one fatal wound was to the head.” said St. Louis city Medical Examiner Dr. Michael Graham.
St. Louis Police Chief Sam Dotson said that the teenager had opened fire on the officer with at least three shots at the officer, who returned fire. He claimed that Vonderrit attempted to fire more but his gun jammed. But Vonderrit’s cousin, Teyonna Myers, said; “He was unarmed. He had a sandwich in his hand, and they thought it was a gun. It’s like Michael Brown all over again.”
Vonderrit was killed one day before the two-month anniversary of the death of Michael Brown, the unarmed black teen shot by white police officer Darren Wilson.
“It is another senseless killing, and it’s almost the same thing as Michael Brown except this time the cops are saying he had a gun” said Doug Hollis of St. Louis. “He (Vonderrit) didn’t have anything but a sandwich.” Hollis, who is a cousin of both Michael Brown and Vonderrit, said police might have planted the gun at the scene.
Surveillance video shows the teenager purchasing a sandwich just moments before he was shot and killed by the officer. In the video, which is time-stamped just after 7.00pm, there is never any sign of a visible gun on Vonderrit, who is wearing a fitted shirt and has his pants slung down low, leaving few places, if any, to conceal a weapon.
Vonderrit was seen with friends at the Shaw market in Missouri walking around, talking and then heading back outside. The officer who was a six-year -veteran of the force was in a car conducting a secondary job for a private company (albeit that he was wearing a Metropolitan Police Department uniform), when he saw three males he claimed were ‘acting in a suspicious manner. He told investigators that as he started to approach them one of the males started to run, seeing this the others started to run as well, and he then followed them.
At one point the officer got out of his vehicle and followed Vonderrit on foot which led to a scuffle which is when it was claimed that Vonderrit produced a gun. The officer then fired several shots at Vonderrit who then died at the scene.
According to a witness, Blanche Campbell, she said that she saw Vonderrit go into the store and watched as the off-duty police officer circled a nearby street. “He (the officer) said he was looking for someone who just robbed a house,” Campbell said.
Once Vonderrit left the store, Campbell says the teen walked to the officer’s car and exchanged words and then walked away from the car and the officer got out and walked after him. She said she was inside Shaw Market when she heard two gunshots.
Lavell Boyd, who lives in the neighbourhood claimed to have heard roughly around 15 shots getting fired, he stated “when I pulled up I saw the officer standing over Myers then he pointed a gun at everyone else to get back while he was searching for another clip.”
Police Chief Sam Dotson said “An investigation will decide if the officer’s behaviour was appropriate.” He also claimed that a 9mm Ruger handgun and three projectiles were found at the scene.
Members of Vonderrit’s family disagreed with the way the police dealt with this incident and argued that it was not right for them to have fired at Vonderrit, and claimed that it was outright murder.
Protesters took to the streets of south St. Louis Wednesday night following the fatal shooting of Vonderrit. At least 200 people took to the streets, jeering at police and blocking traffic on Grand Boulevard. There were no reports of injuries, though some police cars were damaged. Some chanted “hands up, don’t shoot,” the mantra of protesters in neighbouring Ferguson, where and unarmed teen Michael Brown was shot and killed by a Ferguson police officer.
In May 2015 St. Louis Circuit Attorney Jennifer Joyce’s report said that a criminal violation could not be proven beyond a reasonable doubt in the killing of Vonderrit. Joyce did not name the officer in a 51-page report because he was not charged with a crime, but Police Chief Sam Dotson released a separate statement including the name of Officer Jason Flanery.
The prosecutor’s report said, “Given all the available facts, witness statements, physical and forensic evidence prosecutors have determined a criminal violation could not be proven beyond a reasonable doubt. Therefore, charges will not be filed in this case.”
The legal representative for the Myers family, Jerryl Christmas, challenged the Attorneys report and said he would be filing a wrongful-death lawsuit on their behalf. He said; “Jason Flanery should have been charged with murder. The killing of Vonderrit was the same situation as the Walter Scott killing with the exception that this shooting was not caught on video.”
He added; “I don’t believe for a minute that Vonderrit had a weapon. Flanery threw that gun down on him just like they threw that stun gun down on Walter Scott in South Carolina.” The lawyer claimed a private autopsy showed that Vonderrit was shot in the back while fleeing and fatally in the head as he lay wounded on the ground.
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