Friday Night Heroes Scoreboard

Police: Missouri teen was a robbery suspect before his death

 

UPDATE 8/15/2014 10:25 a.m. FERGUSON, Missouri (CNN) — Police named the officer involved in the shooting of Ferguson, Missouri, teenager Michael Brown on Friday, then released documents containing a bombshell: The 18-year-old was the “primary suspect” in the robbery of a convenience store moments before he was killed.

Click here for a copy of the Ferguson Police Report.

Officer Darren Wilson, a six-year veteran of the department, was responding to that call when he encountered Brown, police Chief Thomas Jackson told reporters.

According to the documents, Brown roughly handled a clerk trying to stop him before walking out of the store with a box of Swisher Sweets cigars.

The unidentified police officer who wrote the incident report on the robbery said he identified Brown by comparing surveillance images of the incident to the body of the slain teen.

The claim immediately met with skepticism among some in the community, who have accused Ferguson police of attempting a cover-up to protect the officer.

One resident interviewed by CNN said police are “tarnishing this young man’s name.”

“Anyone could walk in the store and they could get surveillance and take a picture,” the woman said. “I don’t see that he’s robbing the store. I just see a picture of a young man.”

On Twitter, community members and activists expressed disappointment and outrage.

“How can they not release info on the shooting but link #MikeBrown to robbery. Shame on them,” @NafisMWhite tweeted.

The release of Wilson’s name satisfied a key demand of protesters and critics of the handling of the case by the suburban St. Louis police department and St. Louis County investigators handling the probe.

But, especially in light of the robbery allegations, the release of Wilson’s name is unlikely to quell protests in the city and elsewhere over Brown’s death.

A key complaint of protesters has been that witnesses say the officer shot Brown as he stood with his hands in the air.

Police have said the shooting occurred during a struggle for the officer’s gun.

Highway Patrol steps in

The controversy incited sometimes violent protests that culminated in a tense standoff with heavily armed police Wednesday night, prompting Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon to put the Missouri State Highway Patrol in charge of security.

The change was immediate and welcome to protesters.

Gone were the military gear and vehicles, the stun grenades, plastic pellets and tear gas police deployed on previous nights. So were the Molotov cocktails, sounds of gunfire and strife from protesters who had wandered among peaceful demonstrators.

The crowds swelled and became more diverse Thursday; their chants for justice accompanied a concert of honking car horns, and though their cause was somber, their mood was buoyant.

Despite the celebrated change in tone after his department stepped back, Jackson said Friday he is not going to resign, as some critics have suggested he do.

“I’m not going anywhere. I’m going to stay and see this through,” he said.

Smile tactics

Highway patrol Capt. Ron Johnson is now in charge, at the request of Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon.

“We have a different approach that we’re using this evening,” he told CNN’s Don Lemon. Smiling instead of scowling is key. “I’ve smiled more today than I have in the past few days.”

Maj. Ronnie Robinson from the St. Louis City Police is working with Johnson. He underlined the importance of dialogue with residents. “We feel the pain in the community,” he said. They can protest 24 hours, if they want to.

He also insisted there will be law and order. No looting, no vandalizing. State troopers will protect small businesses, he said. And protesters may not block the streets.

Despite the new tone by authorities, some protesters said they were prepared for police aggression.

“Gas me, shoot me, I will stand my ground,” one sign read.

Antonio French, a St. Louis alderman who was arrested at a demonstration in Ferguson on Wednesday, said he’s noticed the new tone.

“Really, it has been the police presence, the heavy-handed presence, which has escalated the situation, and I think led to the violence each night. And so it’s good to see this new approach,” he said.

Diversity

Ferguson’s police department has been criticized for a lack of ethnic diversity. The St. Louis suburb’s population is two-thirds African-American. Of the police force’s 53 officers, only six are African-American.

An eyewitness has said that the officer who shot Brown was Caucasian.

Johnson and Robinson are African-American. Though he believes in ethnic diversity and would like to see more in Ferguson’s police force, Robinson did not peg it to skin color but to a person’s ability to understand people’s culture and communicate with them.

“You’ve got to give respect to get respect,” he said.

Authorities have said that the change of appearance of the police force was intentional.

As Robinson spoke, a group of young Caucasian men behind him held up a sign calling for justice for Brown.

‘No excuse’

Nixon and President Barack Obama have called for peace from all sides and respect for the rights of protesters and the press. Police briefly detained two reporters Wednesday and Al Jazeera America said police fired tear gas and rubber bullets at their camera position.

“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 Thursday. “There is also no excuse for police to use excessive force against peaceful protests or to throw protesters in jail for lawfully exercising their First Amendment rights.”

Brown’s killing has gained attention around the world and moved people to protest in other U.S. cities Thursday. In Los Angeles and in New York, hundreds gathered to demand justice for Brown.

The Los Angeles protests included commemoration for Ezell Ford, an African-American youth recently killed there. In New York, police formed a line to halt the march, CNN affiliate WABC reported.

They told the crowd to disperse and arrested a few people.

UPDATE 8/15/2014 10:01 a.m.(CNN) — Authorities named Michael Brown, the teen killed by a police officer in a St. Louis suburb, as a suspect in a convenience store robbery that occurred moments before the shooting, according to Ferguson police documents released Friday. The documents say Brown was accused of grabbing packs of Swisher Sweets cigars, and that someone then tried to lock the door to prevent Brown from leaving without paying. Brown is accused of grabbing that person by the shirt and pushing him into a display rack, according to the documents, which do not indicate that Brown had a weapon.

Click here for a copy of the Ferguson Police Report.

UPDATE 8/15/2014 9:44 a.m. (CNN) — Darren Wilson was just one of 53 officers in a small-town police department until his encounter with a unarmed teenager on a street in a St. Louis suburb.

On Friday, Police Chief Thomas Jackson disclosed the identity of the man whose actions sparked sometimes violent protests and thrust the quiet community of Ferguson, Missouri, population 22,400, into the national spotlight.

It was not known whether Wilson, an officer for six years, has been placed on modified assignment. Jackson told reporters that the officer had faced no disciplinary action during his time on the job.

Jackson, before speaking to reporters, told CNN’s Don Lemon that the officer was “devastated” by what had happened.

“This is his community,” Jackson said. “He never wanted any of this to happen.”

Jackson said the officer had responded to a call about a sick person before receiving a call about a convenience store robbery shortly before noon the day of the shooting.

Wilson had received via radio a description of the robbery suspect when he encountered Brown on the street, Jackson said.

Authorities had not previously mentioned reports of a robbery in the area.

Brown, an African-American teenager who was days away from starting college, was shot to death in what police said was a struggle for the officer’s gun. No one has disputed that Brown was unarmed. But witnesses said the 18-year-old victim was shot as he tried to distance himself and raised his hands into the air.

The shooting sparked protests and isolated looting incidents, and police response with rubber bullets and tear gas, and arrested dozens of people. Many in the community demanded to know the name of the officer involved in the shooting.

Residents complained about long-simmering tensions between the mostly African-American community and predominantly white police force.

Two-thirds of Ferguson’s population is black. The police chief is white. Only three African-Americans are part of the 53-person department.

The mayor is also white, and so are five of the six city council members.

UPDATE 8/15/2014 9:28 a.m. – (CNN) – T he police officer involved in the shooting and killing of the unarmed teen in a St. Louis suburb Saturday has been identified as Darren Wilson.

Ferguson Police Chief Thomas Jackson released the name to reporters Friday.

Protesters have demanded to find out who he is since the shooting.

St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar said they were discussing at the very highest levels over the past few days about when to release the name to the public.

On Wednesday, the American Civil Liberties Union of Missouri filed a lawsuit seeking the release of the officer’s name under the state’s open records law.

Missouri law provides a specific exemption barring the release of records that authorities conclude are “likely to pose a clear and present danger” to victims, witnesses or others.

Officials say police officers, and others in the administration and police force, have received death threats.

Click here to read more on the Missouri teen shooting and events in Ferguson, Missouri.

FERGUSON, Missouri (CNN) — Ferguson remained at peace after night fell on Thursday for the first time since Michael Brown was killed. And protesters have learned that their demand to know the name of the officer who shot him may be met as early as Friday.

Brown, an African-American teen, was shot to death on Saturday.

The crowds swelled and became more diverse on Thursday; their chants for justice accompanied a concert of honking car horns, and though their cause was somber, their mood was buoyant.

Many praised a new security arrangement, now led by the Missouri State Highway Patrol, for the change of tide.

Gone were the military gear and vehicles, the stun grenades, plastic pellets and tear gas police deployed on previous nights. So were the Molotov cocktails, sounds of gunfire and strife from protesters who had wandered among peaceful demonstrators.

After the St. Louis suburb had looked like a police state Wednesday night, Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon relieved local police departments of the crowd control command and handed it over to the highway patrol.

“The attitudes weren’t improving, and the blocks towards expression appeared to be a flashpoint,” he said. Nixon wanted security to back off and let people vent their feelings appropriately.

Click here to read more on the Missouri teen shooting and events in Ferguson, Missouri.

Smile tactics

Highway patrol Capt. Ron Johnson is now in charge.

“We have different approach that we’re using this evening,” he told CNN’s Don Lemon. Smiling instead of scowling is key. “I’ve smiled more today than I have in the past few days.”

Maj. Ronnie Robinson from the St. Louis City Police is working with Johnson. He underlined the importance of dialog with residents. “We feel the pain in the community,” he said. They can protest 24 hours, if they want to.

He also insisted there will be law and order. No looting, no vandalizing. State troopers will protect small businesses, he said. And protesters may not block the streets.

Despite the new tone by authorities, some protesters said they were prepared for police aggression.

“Gas me, shoot me, I will stand my ground,” one sign read.

Antonio French, a St. Louis alderman who was arrested at a demonstration in Ferguson on Wednesday, said he’s noticed the new tone.

“Really, it has been the police presence, the heavy-handed presence, which has escalated the situation, and I think led to the violence each night. And so it’s good to see this new approach,” he said.

Diversity

Ferguson’s police department has been criticized for a lack of ethnic diversity. The St. Louis suburb’s population is two thirds African-American. Of the police force’s 53 officers, only six are African-American.

An eyewitness has said that the officer who shot Brown was Caucasian.

Both Johnson and Robinson are African-American. Though he believes in ethnic diversity and would like to see more in Ferguson’s police force, Robinson did not peg it to skin color but to a person’s ability to understand people’s culture and communicate with them.

“You’ve got to give respect to get respect,” he said.

Authorities have said that the change of appearance of the police force was intentional.

As Robinson spoke, a group of young Caucasian men behind him held up a sign calling for justice for Brown.

‘Powder keg’

The city was a “powder keg,” Ferguson Police Chief Thomas Jackson said earlier Thursday, before the change of guard in security arrangements, which the U.S. Justice Department had influenced. Attorney General Eric Holder said Thursday that local authorities had accepted the department’s help.

Upset residents gathered to protest Browns killing as soon as his body lay in the street on Saturday.

No one has disputed that Brown was unarmed. But police say he tried to grab the officer’s gun, something two witnesses dispute. They say that the officer fired on the 18-year-old as he tried to distance himself and raised his hands into the air.

Demonstrations have continued since, turning into a ruckus after nightfall, and violence has broken out. Police have detained dozens, including two journalists.

President Barack Obama on Thursday called for peace from all sides.

“There is never an excuse for violence against police or for those who would use this tragedy as a cover for vandalism or looting,” he said. “There is also no excuse for police to use excessive force against peaceful protests or to throw protesters in jail for lawfully exercising their First Amendment rights.”

Brown’s killing has gained attention around the world and moved people to protest in other U.S. cities on Thursday. In Los Angeles and in New York, hundreds gathered to demand justice for Brown.

The Los Angeles protests included commemoration for Ezell Ford, an African-American youth recently killed there. In New York, police formed a line to halt the march, CNN affiliate WABC reported.

They told the crowd to disperse and arrested a few people.

Click here to read more on the Missouri teen shooting and events in Ferguson, Missouri.