The St. Louis police officer who shot and killed 18-year-old Vonderrit Myers, Jr. last month was inadvertently identified by the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department when his name was included in an evidence envelope when Myers’ body was delivered to the funeral home. The police department had intended to keep the officer’s name a secret in the aftermath of the shooting, claiming safety concerns. A lawyer for the Myers family publicly identified the officer as 32-year-old Jason H. Flanery, a six-year veteran of the force.
Jermaine Wooten, the lawyer who revealed Flanery’s name, spoke with the St. Louis Post-Dispatch Wednesday regarding Flanery’s online history. It appears that many of the posts and comments Flanery has made on Facebook, YouTube and other websites reflect a right-wing ideology, with specific anger directed at the President and First Lady. He’s also made statements reflecting a desire to fire a large number of shots at anyone who may have shot first.
Wooten noted online posts attributed to Flanery that call President Barack Obama “Nobama” and say that in a speech by Michelle Obama, “She looks drunk, high, and dumb as hell.” The lawyer said repeated disparaging remarks about blacks in Flanery’s postings reflected a “strong negatively biased view of African-Americans.”
He also cited Flanery’s online criticism of liberals and homosexuality. The lawyer complained that “right-wing conservatives” have not traditionally been “the friendliest” to people such as Myers.
He said online pictures showed “a guy who is actually in love with weaponry.” More problematic, Wooten said, are comments on YouTube videos. In those, Flanery criticizes liberals and posts comments such as, “Conservatives are better. At everything.”
Flanery, 32, on the force for six years, also posted comments on videos of police actions, including a shooting in New York. One comment: “And the moral of the story is … if you shoot at men with guns they are going to shoot you back. And probably a lot.”
Wooten said, “That says to me, if someone has a gun … he is going to continue to fire shots at that person until he is dead. Meaning if you fire one shot at me, I’ll fire 100 at you.”
Another thing that was noted by Wooten is that Flanery, while a teenager, was charged with felony unlawful use of a weapon. Flanery was stopped by Chesterfield Police in 2001 when a teacher noticed him tossing a beer can out of a moving car. The police found a wooden baton, two throwing knives and other unopened beer cans. Eventually, Flanery pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge and paid a $300 fine and attended alcohol counseling.
Wooten pointed out the parallels between Flanery, a white teenager living in an upper-middle-class suburb at the time, and Myers and other black teenagers being confronted by white police officers. He stated that Flanery got to move on with his life while Myers was essentially tried and executed for his crimes by Flanery on the street. Brian Millikan, the attorney for Flanery, dismissed that comparison claiming Myers made his decision when he pulled a gun and shot at Flanery.
St. Louis police claim that Myers was carrying a gun and shot at Flanery when Flanery pulled up next to Myers while Myers was walking in the Shaw neighborhood in St. Louis on October 8th. Flanery was off-duty, but wearing his uniform, while working security for a neighborhood association when he stopped Myers and two of his friends for a “pedestrian check.” Per Flanery’s account, Myers and the others ran off. Flanery states that when he chased after Myers, the teen ambushed him from behind some bushes on a small hill and began shooting at him. Myers was then shot dead during this confrontation as Flanery shot his gun 17 times, hitting Myers at least six times.
There have been some inconsistencies in the police department’s story. First, the officer initially said Myers hid behind some bushes. However, there are no bushes where the confrontation took place, prompting police to amend the story. Also, police have states that a gun was found near the scene and gunpowder residue was found on Myers. On the other hand, Myers’ DNA was not on the gun that he supposedly shot. Also, a few minutes before the confrontation with Flanery, Myers went into a nearby store to purchase a sandwich. The store owner has contended that Myers did not have a gun on him when he entered the store. Also, a private autopsy indicates that Myers was likely incapacitated by a shot to the leg prior to Flanery delivering a kill shot.
The neighborhood and City of St. Louis experienced protests in the immediate aftermath of Myers’ death. It is expected more protests will occur in the area if Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson is no charged in the shooting death of 18-year-old Michael Brown.
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Justin Baragona is the Managing Editor at Politicus Sports as well as Senior Editor at PoliticusUSA. He was a political writer for 411Mania.com before joining PoliticusUSA. Politically, Justin considers himself a liberal but also a realist and pragmatist. Currently, Justin lives in St. Louis, MO and is married. Besides writing, he also runs his own business after spending a number of years in the corporate world. You can follow Justin on Twitter either with his personal handle (@justinbaragona) or the Sports site’s (@PoliticusSports).