When a white off-duty St. Louis police officer fatally shot Vonderrit Myers, an 18-year-old black man, on Oct. 8, tensions between civilians and cops were reignited, following the death of Michael Brown. Now, an autopsy conducted by Myers' family indicates that the victim was shot six times in the back of the legs, and once in the side of the head in what was probably the fatal wound, according to the doctor who performed the autopsy.
St. Louis police maintain that Myers had shot at the pursuing officer, while Myers' family says he was unarmed.
Crime lab results released on Oct. 14 showed that Myers had gunshot residue on his hands, the waistband of his jeans and a T-shirt.
Four rounds struck Myers on the back of the legs, entering on an upward trajectory, consistent with him running up a hill in the front yard of a house, said Dr. Cyril Wecht, who was commissioned by his family to perform the autopsy.
"As he was running, he was being shot," Wecht said.
Another shot entered the side of his left thigh, and would have left him immobile while the fatal wound to the side of his head did not have an upward trajectory.
While the officer has not yet been identified, his lawyer Brian Millikan says the wounds are consistent with the officer's story. "It doesn't change the fact that Myers attempted to murder this policeman … When the policeman is firing back, it's only natural that the back of his legs are going to be exposed to the policeman's line of fire."
According to police accounts, Myers fired at an officer in a confrontation at 7:30 p.m. on Oct. 8, and they found him with a gun that matched three bullets found near the place the officer had been.
Witnesses, however, claim that Myers was running away and "begging for his life," when the officer fatally shot him. Others claim that Myers was holding a sandwich, not a gun.
However, Jermaine Wooten, one of the family's lawyers, say that the autopsy results conflict with the officer's account. According to Wooten, police reported that Myers was facing the officer the whole time.
Additionally, Dr. Michael Graham, the police department's medical examiner, said Myers' DNA did not appear on the gun Myers reportedly had, according to the St. Louis American. "If he had been carrying the gun, it would have his DNA," Wooten said.