Police: Teen Fatally Shot By Ferguson Officer Was Suspect In Convenience Store Robbery
FERGUSON, Mo. (CBS St. Louis/AP) — Ferguson police released the name of the officer that fatally shot 18-year-old Michael Brown, while also revealing that Brown was a suspect in a convenience story robbery over a $48.99 box of cigars.
Ferguson Police Chief Thomas Jackson said Friday morning that Officer Darren Wilson fatally shot the unarmed African-American teen last Saturday following a convenience store robbery call. Wilson has been with the Ferguson Police Department for the past six years and previously had no disciplinary action taken against him.
Watch the video of Jackson being escorted to his vehicle following the news conference:
Wilson has been on administrative leave since the shooting.
Jackson added that Wilson was treated for injuries that occurred on Saturday.
Jackson said Wilson, along with other officers, was called to the area after a 911 call reporting a “strong-arm robbery” at a nearby convenience store.
A police report indicates that Brown was a “primary suspect” in the robbery that took place the day he was fatally shot. According to the report, Brown got physical with the convenience story employee over a box of cigars worth $48.99 he was trying to steal.
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“Brown, still holding a box Swisher Sweets in his right hand, grabs [redacted] by his shirt with his left hand. Brown aggressively pulls [redacted] in close to him and then immediately pushes him back into a display rack,” the police report states.
Jackson said that a dispatcher gave a description of the robbery suspect, and Wilson, who had been assisting on another call, was sent to investigate. Wilson encountered Brown just after 12:01 p.m., with a second officer arriving three minutes later.
City and county officials were previously criticized for refusing to release the name of the officer, citing threats against that officer and others. The hacker group Anonymous on Thursday released a name purported to be that of the officer, but the Ferguson police chief said the name was incorrect.
Police have said Brown was shot after an officer encountered him and another man on the street. They say one of the men pushed the officer into his squad car, then physically assaulted him in the vehicle and struggled with the officer over the officer’s weapon. At least one shot was fired inside the car. The struggle then spilled onto the street, where Brown was shot multiple times.
Dorian Johnson, who says he was with Brown, has told a much different story. He has said the officer ordered them out of the street, then grabbed his friend’s neck and tried to pull him into the car before brandishing his weapon and firing. He says Brown started to run and the officer pursued him, firing multiple times.
The police report also names Johnson as a suspect in the robbery.
The police chief’s announcement Friday was met with immediate disbelief and anger by several dozen community members who also attended the news conference, which was hastily held at a gas station burned during a night of looting earlier in the week.
“He stopped the wrong one, bottom line,” yelled Tatinisha Wheeler, a nurse’s aide who was at the news conference.
A couple dozen protesters began marching around the area and in the street chanting, “Hands up, don’t shoot,” and, “What do we want? Justice! When do we want it? Now!”
Tensions boiled over after a candlelight vigil Sunday night, as looters smashed and burned businesses in the neighborhood, where police have repeatedly fired tear gas and smoke bombs.
But on Thursday, county police in riot gear and armored tanks gave way to state troopers walking side-by-side with thousands of peaceful protesters. The dramatic shift came after Gov. Jay Nixon assigned oversight of the protests to the state Highway Patrol, stripping that authority from the St. Louis County Police Department.
“All they did was look at us and shoot tear gas,” Pedro Smith, who has participated in the nightly protests, said Thursday. “This is totally different. Now we’re being treated with respect.”
The more tolerant response came as President Barack Obama spoke publicly for the first time about the shooting — and the subsequent violence that shocked the nation and threatened to tear apart Ferguson, a town of 21,000 that is nearly 70 percent black and patrolled by a nearly all-white police force.
Obama said there was “no excuse” for violence either against the police or by officers against peaceful protesters.
Nixon’s promise to ease the deep racial tensions was swiftly put to the test as demonstrators gathered again Thursday evening. But the latest protests had a light, almost jubilant atmosphere among the racially mixed crowd, more akin to a parade or block party.
The streets were filled with music, free food and even laughter. When darkness fell — the point at which previous protests have grown tense — no uniformed officers were in sight outside the burned-out QuikTrip convenience store that had become a flashpoint for standoffs between police and protesters.
“You can feel it. You can see it,” protester Cleo Willis said of the change Thursday. “Now it’s up to us to ride that feeling.”
Nixon appointed Highway Patrol Capt. Ron Johnson, who is black, to lead the police effort. Johnson, who grew up near Ferguson and commands a region that includes St. Louis County, marched alongside protesters Thursday, joined by other high-ranking brass from the Highway Patrol as well as the county department. The marchers also had a police escort.
“We’re here to serve and protect,” Johnson said. “We’re not here to instill fear.”
Attorney General Eric Holder has said federal investigators have interviewed witnesses to the shooting.
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