Circuit Attorney Jennifer M. Joyce has released her findings in the investigation involving the shooting death of VonDerrit Myers, Jr., on October 8, 2014. After an independent and exhaustive investigation by a team of prosecutors in the Circuit Attorney’s Office, in addition to an Assistant U.S. Attorney, the team has concluded that they will not be filing charges against the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Officer involved in this shooting.
To read the full report, click above
Based upon the investigation, prosecutors concluded that Mr. Myers produced a firearm on the evening in question.
Multiple 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 (prosecutors are not naming the officer because charges have not been filed) 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, fire a weapon in any direction other than towards Mr. Myers or scatter bullet casings. Additionally, there are witnesses that describe how Mr. Myers illegally came into possession of the Smith and Wesson firearm used in this matter.
Given the fact that Mr. Myers produced a weapon, Missouri laws pertaining to self-defense and an officer’s use of deadly force apply. Given all the available facts, witness statements, physical and forensic evidence and for reasons outlined in the detailed report, prosecutors have determined a criminal violation could not be proven beyond a reasonable doubt.
“This is a tragic situation for our entire community, and my thoughts and prayers remain with the Myers family. I know their loss is heartbreaking,” said Circuit Attorney Joyce. “I want to express my appreciation to the community for its patience. This is a challenging time for law enforcement across the country, and I believe in the power of the community and law enforcement working together to keep our community safe.”
Joyce has been vocal in her position that officer-involved shootings that result in injury or death receive a secondary, independent review to ensure the actions of police are lawful.
“Prosecutors in my office have worked diligently to review the facts of this matter,” she said. “We appreciate the cooperation of the many witnesses we interviewed in our investigation. As with all criminal investigations, the assistance of the public is essential.”
Prosecutors reviewed all available evidence, including but not limited to, ballistics analysis, physical and forensic evidence and autopsy reports. They conducted multiple interviews with people claiming to have specific knowledge of the events.
Prosecutors attempted to interview several other key witnesses, including the officer and three people who were with Mr. Myers that night. Through their lawyers, they each declined to be interviewed.
Prosecutors will not make comments regarding the efficacy of police policies, procedures, training or other aspects of police conduct outside of the laws of the State of Missouri. Additionally, the findings of this office bear no weight on potential disciplinary or civil litigation in these matters.
In the interest of openness and transparency, the CAO has provided selected crime scene photos, created renderings of the scene and autopsy report conclusions and included in the report additional items for an appendix so the public can best understand the basis for the CAO’s conclusion. Questions regarding any other source documents or materials relative to the investigation should be directed to the SLMPD.
The Circuit Attorney’s Office (CAO) handles state-level criminal matters as a function of state government. The CAO is separate and independent from all other City of St. Louis government agencies including the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department (SLMPD).
After the SLMPD adopted a new protocol related to police officer-involved shootings in September 2014, the CAO agreed to conduct an independent review of all police officer-involved shootings occurring in the City of St. Louis that result in an injury or death. These reviews occur after, and are fully independent of, an investigation undertaken by the SLMPD’s Force Investigation Unit (FIU).
Upon receipt of all documents, witness statements, evidence and information from the SLMPD, the CAO embarks on a thorough and separate review of the facts and circumstances of any police shooting where a person has been injured or killed. As defined by law, the CAO may elect to utilize the legal functions of the grand jury to solely investigate a case. CAO staff may also conduct the investigation themselves. The decision regarding a course of action is determined on a case-by-case basis. The CAO may utilize all legal investigative tools for its independent review. Prosecutors may conduct additional interviews with all witnesses, subpoena witnesses to testify before the grand jury, collect and/or analyze physical and forensic evidence and apply all available evidence to current Missouri laws.
The role of the CAO in conducting these reviews is to determine if a criminal violation of Missouri law has occurred and if such violation can be proven beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law. Prosecutors will not make comments regarding the efficacy of police policies, procedures, training or other aspects of police conduct outside of the laws of the State of Missouri. Additionally, the findings of this office bear no weight on potential disciplinary or civil litigation in these matters.
On Wednesday, October 8, 2014, VonDerrit Myers, Jr. (Myers) was shot and killed by an SLMPD officer working a department-approved secondary shift in the Shaw neighborhood in the City of St. Louis.
The FIU of the SLMPD reviewed the case for criminal conduct and on December 5, 2014, delivered its findings to the CAO for review. The SLMPD did not request any criminal charges.
The CAO initiated an independent and thorough review of the facts of Myers’ death. As a completely separate entity, the SLMPD’s findings did not, in any way, dictate the actions taken by the CAO.
Circuit Attorney Jennifer M. Joyce assembled a team of experienced prosecutors, including an Assistant U.S. Attorney, to conduct the investigation. Circuit Attorney Joyce elected not to use the grand jury as the investigative body for this case.
Circuit Attorney Joyce and other office staff personally met with members of the Myers family on October 14, 2014. Prosecutors from the CAO were in contact with the family’s attorneys throughout the investigation. Prosecutors asked the private attorneys hired by the involved parties to provide any information that may assist prosecutors in this review process. Prosecutors requested the same of the public.
The team of attorneys and other CAO staff reviewed police reports, laboratory reports, ballistics reports, DNA analysis, gunshot residue analysis, photographs and scene video, 911 calls, the digital report of Myers’ GPS monitor, surveillance video, dashcam video and police reports relating to the stolen gun found with Myers at the scene of the incident, among other items. They conducted additional interviews and made numerous attempts to gain further statements and information necessary to complete their investigation.
Circuit Attorney Joyce promised the public that when the team reached a conclusion in the matter, she would issue a report making clear her decision and the reasons for it.
To read the full report, click above.