Lab results show gunshot residue was found on the 18-year-old who was fatally shot by an off-duty St. Louis police officer in the Shaw neighborhood last week, according to new information released by the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department Tuesday.
The tests were conducted by the Missouri State Highway Patrol's crime lab. The results found gunshot residue on Vonderrit Myers, Jr.'s, hand, inner waistband, front and back jeans pockets and black t-shirt. The released statement also read:
"The presence of gunshot residue on a person’s hands could mean the individual discharged a firearm, was near a firearm when it was discharged, or touched an object with gunshot residue on it. Individuals shot at close range can have gunshot residue deposited onto their hands."
During a press conference held simultaneously with the release of the information, representatives from the St. Louis Police Officers Association said they believe the results corroborate the account of the shooting given by the officer.
But Jerryl Christmas, the attorney representing the Myers family, questioned why the union was involved at all.
"The information should be coming from the police department; why are we getting information from the police union?" he said. "All of this stuff adds to the distrust in the community. This is why we have the problems that we have in the city and in the St. Louis county metropolitan area, the distrust for law enforcement."
Union business manager Jeff Roorda said the press conference was meant to "restore confidence in the police department" by immediately releasing information in the investigation. Roorda said the union was tired of "standing in the shadows" while rumors fueled protests that "caused disruption to the lives of the people in the Shaw neighborhood and imperiled the safety and lives of police officers."
Roorda said the residue results, particularly that found on the waistband, disprove what he calls "silly" allegations that Myers was only carrying a sandwich and "confirm" the officer's account of the shooting.
The officer told police that Myers ran away from him while holding his waistband with his right hand, which caused the officer to believe Myers had a gun there, according to Brian Millikan, a union attorney representing the officer. Millikan said Myers produced the gun from that same area of the waistband before firing on the officer.
But Christmas, the Myers' attorney, said the family maintains Myers was unarmed the night he was killed. He said they are asking for a complete investigation, rather than having information trickle out.
"All we asking is for a fair investigation as to why he lost his life, why was the officer approaching him, who is the officer, why was he over there and not on Flora Place where he was supposed to be patrolling. These parents have lost their only child and they can't get a full explanation of why they don't have their only son?" he said.
Roorda also said photos from Myers' social media accounts show him with a "distinctive" 9 mm Smith and Wesson, like the one recovered at the scene, and that Myers was "known to law enforcement."
"Before people question why the contact was made in the first place, they should understand that Myers was no angel," Roorda said. "This is not a victim, this is a victim-maker. This is not a martyr."
Christmas said he was appalled by Roorda's comments, calling it "character assassination."