Preliminary autopsy results show that a St. Louis teenager killed by police on Wednesday was shot in the back. The medical examiner’s findings appear to contradict the police, who said that officers opened fire after the teen pointed a gun at them.
The autopsy showed that Mansour Ball-Bey, 18, died from a single bullet that struck his upper right back and hit his heart and an adjoining artery, St. Louis Chief Medical Examiner Michael Graham told Reuters on Friday. The bullet did not exit Ball-Bey’s body, and killed him “nearly instantly.”
Ball-Bey was African-American. Both officers involved in the shooting are white. Some 150 protesters gathered at the scene on Wednesday evening. When police tried to disperse them, the protesters threw rocks and bottles. Police responded with tear gas. A car and a house were set on fire, and nine protesters were arrested.
While the autopsy could not determine whether way Ball-Bey might have been twisting around when he was shot, “he certainly wasn’t facing, his chest wasn’t facing the officers,” Graham said.
According to the St. Louis Police department, two men fled from officers executing a search warrant at a house in the crime-ridden neighborhood of Fountain Park. One of the men, later identified as Ball-Bey, reportedly pointed a gun at the officers, who shot four times in his direction. A handgun recovered from Ball-Bey had one round in the chamber and 13 more in the magazine. Three more guns and an unspecified amount of crack cocaine were found at the house.
The autopsy’s findings seem to contradict the testimony of a witness who told the police that he had seen Ball-Bey throw away his gun, run a short distance, and collapse in the front yard of the house. Police sources related the testimony to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
Jermaine Wooten, an attorney who represents Ball-Bey’s family, says family members and numerous witnesses told him the 18-yard-old had been shot from behind, and that he did not have a gun at all.
Police chief Sam Dotson said the wound’s location neither proves nor disproves the contention of officers at the scene that Ball-Bey refused to drop a gun and pointed it at them before being shot.
“Just because he was shot in the back doesn’t mean he was running away,” Dotson said. “It could be, and I’m not saying that it doesn’t mean that. I just don’t know yet.”