A Saturday afternoon officer-involved shooting that killed a reportedly unarmed teenager rocked the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson, Mo., this weekend triggering angry confrontations between crowds and police, protest vigils, and the looting and burning of businesses.
Michael Brown, 18, was shot and killed Saturday afternoon. Accounts of what led to the deadly force incident vary. Area residents say the African-American teen did nothing to instigate the shooting.
The St. Louis County Police have been asked to investigate the incident by the Ferguson PD chief. County Police Chief Jon Belmar told KMOV that Brown was unarmed and walking with a friend in the middle of the street when an officer attempted to exit his vehicle. Police say Brown or the friend pushed the officer back into the police car. According to police, a struggle ensued over the officer’s weapon. Police said during the physical altercation a shot was fired inside of the car.
Witnesses say Brown was fleeing from the officer with his hands in the air when he was shot multiple times. Police report Brown was 35 feet from the officer when the shots were fired and the only casings found at the scene were from the officer's gun.
Brown's mother, Lesley McSpadden, said he had graduated from high school and was about to enter a local college. She said she doesn't understand why police didn't subdue her son with a club or TASER, and she said the officer involved should be fired and prosecuted, Fox News reports.
The officer involved in the incident has not been identified. The officer's race has also not been disclosed. Ferguson PD cars do not have video, nor do the officers wear body-worn cameras, although the city recently purchased them. Ferguson Police Chief Tom Jackson told KSDK-TV there's also no apparent video footage of the shooting from the nearby apartment complex.
The shooting sparked an immediate reaction from area residents. Officers responding to the incident were met by an angry crowd screaming obscenities and yelling "Kill the police!" the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports. Unrest continued through the night, as police kept an uneasy peace.
Sunday night after a candlelight vigil, which drew people from all over the St. Louis area, some protesters took to the streets of Ferguson looting and burning businesses and confronting officers. People were seen carrying bags of food and toilet paper. TV footage showed streams of people walking out of a liquor store carrying bottles of alcohol, and in some cases protesters were standing atop police cars or taunting officers who stood stoic, often in riot gear.
More than 30 people were arrested on charges including assault, burglary, and theft. Police say two officers suffered minor injuries, according to a Fox News report. Some 20 police vehicles were damaged.
Ferguson, St. Louis Metro, St. Louis County, and Missouri State Highway Patrol officers were called in to quell the rioting and restore peace.
Today, it was announced that the FBI has opened a parallel investigation of the shooting that will coincide with the St. Louis County Police investigation.