News Column

Police Won't Name Officer Who Shot Michael Brown

August 12, 2014

David A. Lieb, Associated Press

FERGUSON, Missouri (AP) A black teenager who was fatally shot by a police officer had his hands raised when the officer approached with his weapon drawn and fired repeatedly, according to two men who said they witnessed the shooting that sparked two nights of unrest in suburban St. Louis.

The FBI opened an investigation Monday into the death of 18-year-old Michael Brown, who police said was shot multiple times Saturday after being confronted by an officer in Ferguson, a suburb of 21,000 that's nearly 70 percent black.

Authorities in Ferguson used tear gas and rubber bullets to try to disperse a large crowd Monday night that had gathered at the site of a burned-out convenience store damaged a night earlier, when many businesses in the area were looted.

Ferguson Police Chief Tom Jackson said members of the crowd threw rocks at police and gunfire came from the crowd, so officers used tear gas and shot "beanbag rounds" meant to stun them.

An Associated Press photographer said police were telling people to go home, but authorities had blocked exit streets off. Jackson said police blocked off the area where most of the looting and vandalism occurred the previous night out of concern that cars passing by might hit demonstrators in the street.

St. Louis County police spokesman Brian Schellman said there were at least five arrests and no reports of looting. He said police using loudspeakers were urging people to go home.

Authorities were vague about exactly what led the officer to open fire on Brown, except to say that the shooting was preceded by a scuffle of some kind with a man. It was unclear whether Brown or the man he was with was involved in the altercation.

Investigators have refused to publicly disclose the race of the officer, who is now on administrative leave. But Phillip Walker said he was on the porch of an apartment complex overlooking the scene when he heard a shot and saw a white officer with Brown on the street.

Brown "was giving up in the sense of raising his arms and being subdued," Walker told The Associated Press on Monday. The officer "had his gun raised and started shooting the individual in the chest multiple times." The officer then "stood over him and shot him" after the victim fell wounded.

Dorian Johnson offered a similar account when he told KMOV-TV that he and Brown were walking home from a convenience store when a police officer told them to get out of the street and onto the sidewalk. Johnson said they kept walking, which caused the officer to confront them from his car and again after getting out of the vehicle.

Johnson said the first time the officer fired, he and Brown got scared and ran away.

"He shot again, and once my friend felt that shot, he turned around and put his hands in the air, and he started to get down," Johnson said. "But the officer still approached with his weapon drawn and fired several more shots."

"We wasn't causing harm to nobody," Johnson said. "We had no weapons on us at all."

Walker said that he did not see a scuffle or the circumstances that preceded the first gunshot.

The St. Louis County Police Department refused to discuss Johnson's remarks, citing the ongoing investigation. But county Police Chief Jon Belmar previously said that an officer encountered Brown and another man outside an apartment complex, and that one of the men pushed the officer into his squad car and they struggled over the officer's weapon.

Jackson said there's no video footage of the shooting from the apartment complex or from any police dashboard cameras or body-worn cameras that the department recently bought but has not yet put to use.

Brown's parents and their attorneys asked the public to share any information and videos they might have related to the shooting.

The family had planned to drop their son off at a technical college Monday to begin his studies.

"Instead of celebrating his future, they are having to plan his funeral," said Benjamin Crump, a family attorney who also represented Trayvon Martin's relatives after he was slain in 2012 in Florida by a neighborhood watch volunteer who was acquitted of second-degree murder last year.

"I don't want to sugarcoat it," Crump added. Brown "was executed in broad daylight."

Crump and some civil rights leaders drew comparisons between Brown's death and that of Martin and other young black men killed in racially charged incidents.

Brown's mother, Lesley McSpadden, said she did not understand why police did not subdue her son with a club or stun gun. She said the officer involved should be fired and prosecuted, adding that "I would like to see him go to jail with the death penalty."

The FBI is looking into possible civil rights violations, said Cheryl Mimura, a spokeswoman for the agency's St. Louis field office.

Attorney General Eric Holder said in a statement that the case deserves a full review.

Thirty-two people were arrested following a candlelight vigil Sunday night after crowds looted and burned stores, vandalized vehicles, assaulted and threatened reporters and taunted officers.

Two officers suffered minor injuries, police said. There were no reports of civilians hurt.

The person who was with Brown has not been arrested or charged, and it was not clear if he was armed, Jackson said. Blood samples were taken from Brown and the officer for toxicology tests, which can take weeks to complete.

Associated Press reporters Jim Salter and Jeff Roberson in Ferguson, Alan Scher Zagier in St. Louis and Eric Tucker in Washington and AP researcher Rhonda Shafner in New York contributed to this report.

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Original headline: Police won't name officer who shot US teen



Source: Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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