Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Report on Police Shooting of VonDerrit Myers to Reach St. Louis Prosecutors Next Week

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Report on Police Shooting of VonDerrit Myers to Reach St. Louis Prosecutors Next Week

Article excerpt

ST. LOUIS * A new unit established to investigate St. Louis police shootings will submit its report on the Oct. 9 killing of VonDerrit D. Myers Jr. to prosecutors for review next week, Chief Sam Dotson said Thursday.

Dotson said a report on the Aug. 19 fatal shooting of Kajieme Powell, which happened before the department's Force Investigation Unit was created, will be finished by the end of November.

Under department guidelines, he said, any portion of the reports subject to state open records laws would be publicly released after prosecutors review the incidents and decide whether criminal charges are warranted.

He also said that the names of the officers who fired the fatal shots could then become public, subject to a "threat assessment" of whether release would imperil their safety.

The chief said lawyers for the officers involved would receive their copies of the reports at the same time as the public. Relatives of Myers and Powell could receive some version of the report at the same time as the circuit attorney, although Dotson said that decision rests with the city counselor's office.

Dotson said he is committed to releasing as much information as possible, balancing the public's right to know against the officers' rights.

Lauren Trager, a spokeswoman for the Circuit Attorney Jennifer Joyce, said in an email Thursday that because the Myers case was the first to be reviewed under a new policy, it is not possible to estimate how long the process would take. "Our team, however, will work as expeditiously as possible to reach a conclusion on the matter," she wrote.

Jerryl Christmas, one of the lawyers for the Myers family, said Thursday that he was told to expect a copy of the report this week. He said the absence of the officer's name is hampering their investigation.

The police shootings are the first handled under a policy that removes the investigation from homicide or district detectives in favor of a specialized five-member unit. The new process promises quicker results and includes a mandatory review by prosecutors.

Some critics contend that the investigation of police shootings should be conducted by an outside entity. …

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