The Disputed Details Of Vonderrit Myers Jr.'s Shooting Death In Shaw, St. Louis
Many are already calling it "another Ferguson," but the details surrounding the recent shooting in yet another St. Louis town are still unclear. On Wednesday, a white police officer shot a black teenager in Shaw, Mo., killing 18-year-old Vonderrit Myers Jr., but that's about all we know for sure. Reports have been starkly contradictory in presenting details large and small — including the teen's name — and certain allegations are sparking anger and protests, which are indeed, if only in terms of the responses to the incident, creating another Ferguson.
After residents found out about the shooting near the Missouri Botanical Garden, a few miles south of Ferguson, large crowds started gathering in the streets to protest what seemed to be another racially-charged shooting by police. During the protests that started on Wednesday night and lasted into Thursday morning, some shouted the "Hands up, don't shoot" mantra from the Ferguson shooting.
But the St. Louis Police Department has been adamantly making one significant distinction about the Shaw incident: Myers was armed and fired shots first. If this is true, it would certainly differentiate this shooting from the fatal shooting of unarmed teen Michael Brown in August. However, the teen's family has a very different account of Wednesday evening's events. Right now, everything is merely conjecture, but what's notable is the stark contradictions between each account.
1. Claim A: Myers Fled the Police and Was "Aggressive"
According to St. Louis Police Chief Sam Dotson's account, the off-duty officer was working at the time for a private security firm when he spotted three suspicious males and began pursuing them when they started running away from the officer. After catching up to him, Myers approached the officer in an "aggressive manner."
Claim B: Myers Was Not Even Involved in a Police Chase
However, Myers' family members insist that he had been at a convenience store buying a sandwich when the police chase occurred, and that the officers had been pursuing someone else entirely.
One of Myers' uncles told the LA Times:
All I know is he came out the store with a sandwich. Next thing, he's shot several times by a cop who was chasing someone else.
2. Claim A: He Was Armed and Shot First
Dotson's version continues to state that after the aggressive struggle, Myers got away again and the officer spotted what looked like a gun, but he didn't fire right away because he wanted to be certain first. When Myers turned and started firing at him, however, he returned fire. Myers fired at least three shots before his gun jammed, though he continued pulling the trigger. In return, the officer fired 17 shots. The number of times Myers was hit has not been determined.
Claim B: It Was a Sandwich, Not a Gun
After talking to witnesses, Myers' relatives maintain that he had not been armed, and in fact, the police had mistaken his recently purchased sandwich for a firearm. And what's more, they claim that the police had also Tased him. Another uncle, Jackie Williams, told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch:
My nephew was coming out of a store from purchasing a sandwich. Security was supposedly searching for someone else. They Tased him. I don’t know how this happened, but they went off and shot him 16 times. That’s outright murder.
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