ST. LOUIS (AP) — An 18-year-old killed earlier this month by an off-duty St. Louis police officer was shot eight times, including six times from behind, said a forensic pathologist who performed an independent autopsy Thursday.
Dr. Cyril Wecht, who has investigated the deaths of John F. Kennedy, Elvis Presley and JonBenet Ramsey, conducted the autopsy at the request of Vonderrit Myers Jr.’s family and outlined the findings during a news conference at the funeral home that will handle Myers’ burial.
The family’s attorneys said the autopsy suggests Myers was running away from the officer. Myers’ parents attended the autopsy announcement but did not comment.
“The evidence shows that the story we’ve been given by the Police Department does not match up,” one of the attorneys, Jerryl Christmas, said. “There’s no evidence that there was a gun battle going on.”
Wecht said it’s likely that Myers was initially shot six times in the back of both legs. He said another shot hit the side of the left leg, shattering his femur.
The fatal wound was to the side of Myers’ face, Wecht said.
Police have said Myers shot first at the officer. They released details of lab tests by the Missouri State Highway Patrol that showed gunshot residue on Myers’ hand, waistband and shirt. Police union leaders said the finding dispelled claims by Myers’ family that he didn’t fire at the officer, whose name hasn’t been released.
The officer’s attorney, Brian Millikan, said the results from the independent autopsy support the police account as well.
“It’s absolutely consistent with what the officer told the investigators from early on,” said Millikan, a former St. Louis police officer. “There were no shots fired when (Myers) was running away. That’s simply not true.”
Police Chief Sam Dotson has said Myers fired three shots before his gun jammed.
Millikan said Myers was shot in the back of the legs while lying on his side with a gun in his hand.
“He was propped up on his left elbow, and his legs were facing out at the policeman as he went down, but he was still holding the gun and pointing it at the policeman,” the lawyer said.
The incident spurred a round of protests similar to ones in nearby Ferguson after the fatal police shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown. Both Brown and Myers were black. The officers who shot them are white. A grand jury is expected to decide by mid-November whether criminal charges will be filed against Darren Wilson, the Ferguson officer who killed the unarmed Brown.
The officer in the Myers shooting is on administrative leave.
He was on patrol as a private security guard, but wearing his police uniform and carrying his department-issued gun when the shooting occurred on Oct. 8.
Dotson has 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.
Police investigators attended Wecht’s news conference and served him with a subpoena to turn over his autopsy report to a grand jury reviewing the case. A police spokeswoman in response to the autopsy said any information and evidence that comes up will be included in the investigation, which local and federal prosecutors will review.
A preliminary autopsy by St. Louis Medical Examiner Dr. Michael Graham found that Myers was shot six to seven times in the lower extremities, with the fatal shot entering the right cheek. The final autopsy report hasn’t been released.
Associated Press writer Jim Salter contributed to this report.
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