Leaders of St. Louis’s black community want a Justice Department probe of Wednesday’s police shooting of a black teen, convinced that the shooting was not justified.
Protesters gathered Thursday outside the St. Louis Police Department’s headquarters and called for a Justice Department investigation, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported. They said they believed that the shooting of 18-year-old Vonderrit Myers, Jr., had been a case of “racial profiling.”
“This was a case of racial profiling turned deadly,” Missouri state Sen. Jamilah Nasheed said, adding that she believed Myers had been shot in the back of the head.
Police have said that Myers fired at least three shots at the police officer, who remains unidentified. The officer fired 17 shots in return, though it is not known how many struck Myers. Myers’ family has insisted that he was unarmed, and protests have followed that invoked the August police shooting of Michael Brown in nearby Ferguson, Mo.
“There is no epidemic of black officers shooting white kids, but there is an epidemic of white officers shooting black kids,” Jerryl Christmas, a local lawyer who participated in the Ferguson protests, told the Post-Dispatch on Thursday.
Some news outlets have reported that the police who shot Myers was white, but others, including the Associated Press and Post-Dispatch, have not confirmed the officer’s race.