Is it hard to believe that a vigil marking the two-year anniversary of the death of a violent criminal and would-be cop killer would end in violence. Especially when the deceased, VonDerrit Myers, met his end while wearing an ankle monitoring bracelet, ignoring a house arrest order, and firing his stolen 9mm Smith & Wesson pistol at a police officer. But more violence broke out Sunday evening with three people gaining fresh perforations at the candlelight vigil in St. Louis.
Myers’ friends and family claimed the police lied about the original shooting. They claimed Myers did nothing wrong. They claimed Myers was holding a ham sandwich, not a gun, despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary.
His friends and family didn’t offer up any reason why Mr. Myers wasn’t at home where he was under house arrest for unlawful use of a weapon and resisting arrest following a high-speed chase with police. Per the St. Louis County Circuit Attorney’s office:
On June 27, 2014, VonDerrit Myers, Jr. was charged with Unlawful Use of a Weapon and Resisting Arrest in the 22nd Judicial Circuit Court for an incident that occurred the same day. Charging documents state that Myers was the passenger in a vehicle involved in a high-speed chase. After it crashed, Myers exited the vehicle and took off running. Officers said Myers retrieved a previously fully concealed firearm and discarded it in a sewer drain. The gun was recovered and it was found to be a loaded Hi-Point .380 caliber semi-automatic pistol.
On July 7, 2014, Myers posted bond and was ordered by a judge to comply with various bond requirements, including participation in an electronic monitoring system. Myers agreed, as a condition of bond, to wear a GPS monitoring device around his ankle. As a condition of bond, Myers agreed to be on court-mandated house arrest. A judge ordered him not to leave his residence except for work, court appearances, meetings with attorneys and other court officials. He was not to have contact with co-defendants, or attend parties or engage in “hanging out.” He was to abide by random drug testing; he was to follow all rules at home and report within 24 hours of release to a probation officer. He was to maintain attendance at a job, school or GED program.
Mr. Myers didn’t comply with the judge’s orders, or society’s norms. In the end, while trying to evade capture by a pursuing police officer, Myers tried to shoot and kill the cop in order to escape. The officer returned fire putting an end to his criminal career.
Officials cleared the police officer, noting the cop’s actions were justified. Here is an excerpt from the St. Louis Circuit Attorney’s office:
Officer X was within his legal rights to patrol the neighborhood and attempt to secure the safety of all citizens. Officer X was acting as a police officer while working a department-approved secondary shift.
Upon seeing a group of individuals who had appeared to run from him, Officer X pursued a person. Based on his recorded statement to police, Officer X believed the person he first chased was the same person he later shot. That appears to be incorrect. A GPS device located on Myers’ person appears to confirm Myers’ presence at home on Castleman Ave. at the time Officer X told investigators he was pursuing a person.
Prosecutors reviewed every aspect of the incident and determined Officer X’s actions were reasonable under Missouri laws, for the following reasons.
Officer X encountered Myers and Myers’ acquaintances on Shaw Blvd. a short time after the initial pursuit. Officer X was met with hostility from Myers and Myers did not comply with the officer’s commands. Myers was grabbing at his waistband, according to Officer X, giving the officer reasonable suspicion that Myers had a firearm. The officer, therefore, had the legal right to attempt to detain Myers for further questioning. Myers’ acquaintances confirm that Myers and the officer engaged in a physical altercation, and they confirm that Myers ran away. At that point in time, Officer X had probable cause to give chase in an attempt to detain Myers for assault on a law enforcement officer.
Officer X did not have the legal right to use deadly force at this point in time. As soon as Myers produced a gun, however, under the law, the officer’s rights changed.
For a number of reasons, prosecutors concluded Myers produced a gun. Witnesses confirm there was gunfire coming from both directions and from two different guns at the scene. Ballistics evidence confirms that two different guns were fired at the scene. There is no evidence that Officer X was the person who fired both guns. No witness claims to have seen Officer X alter evidence in any way, such as throw down a gun, wipe away evidence, fire a weapon in any direction other than towards the gangway or scatter casings. Additionally, there are witnesses that describe how Myers came into possession of the Smith and Wesson firearm.
There is no evidence to suggest that Myers had anything else in his hands at the time of the incident. Though Myers had purchased a sandwich at a store shortly before the shooting, an acquaintance of Myers confirmed Myers had fully consumed it prior to the confrontation with the officer.
At the moment Myers pulled the gun, Officer X could have reasonably believed under the law that deadly force was necessary to effect the arrest. Further, Officer X had reasonable belief that Myers had committed or was attempting to commit a felony, and/or that Myers was attempting to escape by use of a deadly weapon and/or that Myers was otherwise endangering life. Officer X, however, did not fire his gun when he first saw Myers draw his weapon. He told investigators that he hesitated to make sure that it was a gun.
Fast forward to Sunday evening, the two year anniversary of Myers’ demise. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch has the story:
3 injured as gunfire breaks out at St. Louis vigil for VonDerrit Myers Jr.
Three men were injured Saturday night in St. Louis as gunfire broke out during a candlelight vigil for an 18-year-old fatally shot by a St. Louis police officer two years earlier. …
At least 50 people, including Myers’ family, were present when the vigil was interrupted by a disturbance in the street where several young men were arguing with one another, McGrane said.
“Mr. Myers Sr. and others tried to separate the group when someone pulled out a gun and started shooting,” McGrane said. “They started shooting, and then someone else started shooting. There were multiple shots fired all over the place.”
And so it goes.