An off-duty St. Louis police officer has sparked a new round of “Hands up, don’t shoot” protests by doing what police in that area seem to do best: Gunning down an unarmed black teen armed only with a tasty sandwich.
The officer, an unnamed 32-year-old white man, was still wearing his uniform as he was working a second job as a security guard when the shooting occurred. While police say that 18-year-old Vonderrit Myers was armed, witnesses say otherwise. In any case, police really want you to know that the officer was not harmed as he shot the teen.
23-year-old Teonna Myers, the victim’s cousin, told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that “He had a sandwich in his hand, and they thought it was a gun. It’s like Michael Brown all over again.”
Police Chief Sam Dotson said that the officer was in a car when he saw three males, one of whom began to “run away.” He claims the officer pulled a U-turn, prompting all three to run away. He then pursued them in his car, but got out to chase the teens on foot.
According to St. Louis police spokeswoman Schron Jackson, the officer was performing a “pedestrian check,” a term that raises several ethical questions.
Assistant Police Chief Alfred Adkins said that Myers ambushed the officer from some bushes, and that he fired at least three shots at the unnamed officer. After the teen’s gun jammed, according to police, the officer returned fire 17 times.
Dotson said that he is unaware of any video that would have caught the shooting, but that the teen “was no stranger to law enforcement.”
A neighborhood resident said that, “When I pulled up I saw the cop standing over him (Myers) then he pointed the gun at everyone else telling everyone to get back while he was searching for another clip.” According to the witness, people nearby were telling the officer, “You killed my friend.”
“My nephew was coming out of a store from purchasing a sandwich. Security was supposedly searching for someone else. They Tased him,” said Jackie Williams, Myers’ uncle. “I don’t know how this happened, but they went off and shot him 16 times. That’s outright murder.”
The shooting sparked another round of protests, drawing 300 people to the scene, The rage of the community overflowed. A crowd surrounded a police SUV, with one person kicking out a tail light. Another person broke a window out of a police vehicle as it pulled away. Several police cars were damaged.
This occurred just days after several St. Louis Cardinals fans yelled slurs and hurled race-based hatred at demonstrators attempting to bring more attention to the murder of unarmed African-American teen Michael Brown at the hands of a white officers in nearby Ferguson. People in the smoking section outside the stadium chanted that protesters should return to Africa, insisted that [white people] are “the ones who gave all y’all the freedoms that you have,” and expressed overwhelming support for the officer who shot Brown.
Recently, St. Louis police apprehended a white man who assaulted two police officers, fled, and broke one officer’s hand without shooting a single person.