Police union leaders said the lab test by the Missouri State Highway Patrol dispels claims Vonderrit Myers didn’t shoot at the officer on October 8, initiating a fatal exchange of gunfire. The shooting led to a new wave of protests in St Louis, two months after a white officer, Darrell Wilson, in neighbouring Ferguson shot and killed an unarmed black 18-year-old, Michael Brown.
St Louis Police Officers’ Association business manager Jeff Roorda cited other evidence against Myers during a news conference: Social media photos that Roorda said show Myers holding three guns, one of them a 9mm Smith & Wesson. Roorda said it was likely the stolen gun Myers allegedly used to shoot at the officer. He did not provide copies of the photos.
Myers’ family contends he was unarmed and that the officer, who was in uniform but was off-duty and working for a security company at the time, mistook a sandwich Myers was holding for a gun.
The shooting set off a round of protests similar to those in Ferguson after Brown’s death. Brown and Myers were black. Both officers are white.
The officer was working a moonlighting job as a security officer hired to patrol a neighbourhood near the Missouri Botanical Garden in south St Louis. Though not on duty, he was wearing his police uniform and armed with his department-issued gun, which is common practice in St Louis.
Police Chief Sam Dotson said the officer became suspicious when Myers and the men with him started to run.
A chase ensued and the officer and Myers got into a physical confrontation. After Myers pulled away, Dotson said, he went up a hill and started shooting at the officer. Dotson said ballistic evidence showed Myers fired three shots before his gun jammed. Police said they recovered the gun, which was reported stolen on September 26.