FERGUSON Mo. (Reuters) – Missouri’s governor moved on Thursday to calm days of racially charged protests over the police shooting of an unarmed black teenager, naming an African-American captain of the Highway Patrol to oversee security in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson.
Captain Ron Johnson, who grew up in Ferguson, told reporters he would take a new approach after complaints that police have used heavy-handed tactics, arresting dozens of protesters and using teargas and pepper pellets to break up crowds.
Ferguson, a mostly black town of 21,000 with a predominantly white police force that has been accused of racial profiling in the past, was bracing for a fifth straight night of protests on Thursday after a police officer shot and killed 18-year-old Michael Brown last weekend.
Since Sunday, there have been peaceful vigils and demonstrations – with hundreds of protesters holding their hands in the air and chanting “hands up, don’t shoot” – as well as episodes of looting, vandalism and violence.
U.S. President Barack Obama, seeking to defuse tensions in Ferguson, called on police to respect peaceful demonstrations.
“There is never an excuse for violence against police or for those who would use this tragedy as a cover for vandalism or looting,” Obama said.
“There’s also no excuse for police to use excessive force against peaceful protesters or to throw protesters in jail for lawfully exercising their First Amendment rights,” he said in remarks broadcast from Edgartown, Massachusetts, near where he is vacationing with his family.
The protests have cast a spotlight on racial tensions in greater St. Louis, where civil rights groups have complained in the past that police racially profiled blacks, arrested a disproportionate number of blacks and had racist hiring practices.
Governor Jay Nixon praised Ferguson on Thursday for being a diverse, hard-working community, but he said, “lately it has looked a little bit more like a war zone, and that is unacceptable.”
Police have pledged to do better but have also justified the tactics, saying they have responded to the threat of violence during protests.
“We are going to have a different approach,” Johnson said at the news conference where Nixon announced his role in directing Ferguson’s security. He said he would go to “ground zero” on Thursday evening, the area where Brown was killed and also where a convenience store was burned down on Sunday in riots.
Additionally, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said in a statement that police had accepted an offer of technical assistance from the Justice Department “to help conduct crowd control and maintain public safety without relying on unnecessarily extreme displays of force.”
The Justice Department, the FBI and the St. Louis County prosecutor’s office are all investigating Brown’s death.
HANDS IN THE AIR
Protesters have decried what they say is a lack of transparency by police investigating the incident – including the refusal to release the officer’s name. And some have called for St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Bob McCullough to be removed from the case.
Early on Thursday, a member of the Anonymous hacker activist collective tweeted the name of a person alleged to be the police officer who shot Brown. But police and other Anonymous tweeters said the activist had named the wrong person.
Police said threats from cyber activists were one reason they continued to be reluctant to release the officer’s name. But Nixon said on Thursday that authorities should be expeditious about identifying the officer.
There is little clarity on what occurred during Saturday’s incident.
Police have said that Brown struggled with the officer who shot and killed him. The officer involved in the shooting was injured during the incident and was treated in a hospital for swelling on the side of his face, they said.
But some witnesses have said that Brown held up his hands and was surrendering when he was shot multiple times in the head and chest.
(Reporting by Nick Carey; Additional reporting by Brendan O’Brien in Milwaukee, David Bailey in Minneapolis, Carey Gillam in Kansas City and Jeff Mason in Edgartown, Mass.; Writing by Fiona Ortiz; Editing by Eric Beech)
Day of St. Louis / Ferguson shooting, Michael Brown steals box of cigars
Great news, liars abound. Thieves as well.
Michael Brown is confirmed to have been involved in a theft earlier in the day before the shooting.
(confirmed by his friend the witness with him the day of the shooting)
This does NOT excuse the shooting of Michael Brown, however it does paint a different picture of the aggressive actions of Mr. Brown.
Michael Browns friend, Dorian Johnson, the witness to the shooting, CONFIRMS he and Brown committed the robbery earlier in the day.
Police were not looking for Michael Brown for the robbery however… so the chance encounter with the officer was ‘karma’ sort of... and apparently Brown was quite aggressive after all.
I’ll be damned, but it appears the kid was none too ‘good’… meaning there may have been a struggle over the officers weapon.
Seeing Michael Brown grab that older mans throat.. doesn’t look good.
“FERGUSON, Mo. (AP) – The friend who was with Michael Brown when he was shot and killed by a police officer near St. Louis over the weekend is reportedly confirming that he and Brown had taken part in the theft of cigars from a convenience store that day.
That word comes from the attorney for Dorian Johnson, speaking to MSNBC. Police in Ferguson had earlier announced that Brown was suspected of taking cigars from the convenience store in what was described as a “strong-arm robbery.”
Brown’s family is accusing police of trying to draw attention away from the shooting.
Ferguson Police Chief Thomas Jackson said the officer involved in the shooting — identified as Darren Wilson — had gone to the area after a 911 call reporting the robbery. He says a dispatcher gave a description of the suspect, and that Wilson encountered Brown a few minutes before another officer arrived.
The announcement was met with immediate disbelief and anger by community members who insisted Brown wasn’t the man seen in a security camera video of the robbery.
Brown’s uncle says if Wilson really had believed Brown was a suspect, he wouldn’t have just told him to get out of the street. Either way, he says, it doesn’t justify the shooting.
FERGUSON, Mo. – The Ferguson police chief has identified the officer who killed 18-year-old Michael Brown Saturday afternoon.
In a Friday morning news conference Chief Thomas Jackson says the officer is Darren Wilson. Wilson is a six year veteran of the police force and Jackson never had disciplinary action while a member of the Ferguson department.
According to Jackson, the officer who killed Brown was at a sick call at 11:48 a.m. An ambulance was at the location of the sick call. At 11:51 a.m. Jackson says dispatchers received a 911 call about a robbery. One minute later police dispatch gave a description of the suspect.
Jackson also released information he said was requested under the Sunshine Law about a strong-armed robbery that occurred at a convenience store before Brown was killed. He said the convenience store that was robbed was not the QuikTrip that was vandalized and burned during Sunday night’s riot. Police also released security camera photographs from the convenience store robbery. The photos show a black male wearing a white shirt, shorts and red baseball cap involved in an alleged robbery.
Jackson says one officer arrived at the store, and more details were given over the radio, including that the suspect was walking toward QuikTrip.
He says Officer Wilson left the sick call and saw Brown walking on Canfield at 12:01 p.m. Jackson says a second officer arrived on Canfield at 12:04 p.m., after the shooting. One minute later Jackson says a supervisor arrived.
According to Jackson, the ambulance at the sick case arrived at Canfield and assessed Brown.
At the news conference, Jackson made no connection between the shooting of Michael Brown and the strong-armed robbery. However, the documents he released list Michael Brown and Dorian Johnson as suspects in that case.
Jackson says Wilson was treated for injuries sustained on Saturday.
Brown was unarmed when the officer killed him. Witnesses in the area say Brown had raised his hands to surrender when he was shot. Police have not confirmed that information.
In the released police report, Ferguson police state after viewing Brown’s body and reviewing the surveillance video, they were able to confirm that Brown is the primary suspect in this incident. Police say a second person, also at the scene of the robbery, identified himself as being with Brown. That person was later identified as Dorian Johnson. The documents can be found below this story.
The name of the officer was scheduled to be released by Ferguson Police Chief Thomas Jackson by 12 p.m. Tuesday, but he changed his mind, citing social media threats made to officers.
He also did not answer any questions after releasing the name. He said he will address the media later on Friday.
Gov. Jay Nixon released the following statement following the news conference:
“I’m pleased that the people of Ferguson and the region began to get some long-overdue information today, and I will continue to call for openness and transparency as the parallel investigations into this tragedy proceed to their necessary conclusions. For the sake of the family, the citizens of Ferguson, and the entire region, it is vital that the investigations into the shooting death of Michael Brown move forward in a thorough, open and transparent manner to ensure that trust is restored and justice is done.”
The Ethical Society of Police released the following statement on their Facebook page:
Greetings community members of St. Louis, MO and all those across the nation. The Ethical Society of Police has been closely following the events surrounding the unfortunate police shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, MO.
As a result of public outcry and a demand for justice, the Ferguson police officer’s name was released and happens to be, Darren Wilson.
The first thing we would like to assure the world is that this is a horrific coincidence.
May I assure the world that this is not the President of the Ethical Society of Police’s Sergeant Darren R. Wilson who is African-American, and happens to be an 18 year veteran of the St. Louis Police Department.
I’m sure additional clarification statements will be released immediately.
Thank you for your continued support.
Attorney Benjamin Crump, who is representing the family of Michael Brown, released the following statement on his Facebook page on behalf of the family:
“Michael Brown’s family is beyond outraged at the devious way the police chief has chosen to disseminate piece mil information in a manner intended to assassinate the character of their son, following such a brutal assassination of his person in broad daylight.
There is nothing based on the facts that have been placed before us that can justify the execution style murder of their child by this police officer as he held his hands up, which is the universal sign of surrender.
The prolonged release of the officer’s name and then the subsequent alleged information regarding a robbery is the reason why the family and the local community have such distrust for the local law enforcement agencies.
It is no way transparent to release the still photographs alleged to be Michael Brown and refuse to release the photographs of the officer that executed him.
The police strategy of attempting to blame the victim will not divert our attention, from being focused on the autopsy, ballistics report and the trajectory of the bullets that caused Michael’s death and will demonstrate to the world this brutal execution of an unarmed teenager.”
Benjamin L Crump, Esq.
Anthony D. Gray, Esq.
Daryl D. Parks, Esq.
This is how the documents were exactly given to us by the Ferguson Police Department. The photographs and videos were also supplied by the Ferguson Police Department.
READ MORE UPDATE