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#FergusonShooting: Outrage as Missouri police shoot and kill ‘unarmed’ black teen

Published time: August 10, 2014 10:08
Edited time: August 10, 2014 19:08
Reuters / Sarah Conard

Reuters / Sarah Conard

Hundreds of residents of a predominantly black suburb in Missouri took to the streets after police fatally shot an 18-year-old black man on Saturday. Angry protesters chanted “Kill the police!” during the protest.

Michael Brown was a recent high school graduate who was scheduled to begin classes at Vatterott College on Monday. He was killed in Ferguson, a city in St. Louis County that has about 21,000 residents – two-thirds of whom are black.

The teenager was shot dead by a police officer while on his way to his grandmother’s house, according to Brown’s parents.

“I know they killed my son,” Brown's mother, Lesley McSpadden, was heard telling an acquaintance. “This was wrong and it was cold-hearted.”

McSpadden was told that her son was shot eight times.

Brown’s friend, along with witnesses, said the teenager was unarmed and had his hands in the air.

There are no details on why the police approached Brown. The first reports suggested the teenager stole something from a store. It was then said that Brown was shot after an altercation with police.

When speaking about her son, McSpadden said that he "doesn’t kill, steal, or rob. He doesn’t do any of that."

Brown's grandmother, Desiree Harris, told AP that the young man was running around the neighborhood at the time he was killed.

"He was running this way," she said. "When I got up there, my grandson was lying on the pavement. I asked the police what happened. They didn't tell me nothing."

The tension somewhat deescalated when the crowd held a vigil for Brown, laying candles, flowers and stuffed toys at an improvised memorial at the center of the scene.

About a hundred people picketed Ferguson police HQ, chanting: “No Justice! No Peace!”

The anger in the street was mirrored by a storm of outraged comments on social media.

Ferguson Police Chief Thomas Jackson confirmed that Brown was killed by a police officer, who had been put on paid administrative leave. The case is now with the St. Louis county police.

The authorities declined to provide further details. County police spokesman Brian Schellman promised a “lengthy investigation.”

Eyewitness Piaget Crenshaw, 19, told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that she saw a police officer trying to put Brown in a squad car. She said the teen attempted to flee and was hit with several shots as he ran with his arms in the air.

Meanwhile, St. Louis County Police Department Chief Jon Belmar said at a Sunday news conference that Brown “pushed a police officer back into the car, where he physically assaulted the police officer” and struggled over the officer’s weapon.

According to Belmar, a first shot was fired inside the police vehicle, and Brown eventually collapsed about 35 feet away from the car as he tried to run away. The police chief said the officer fired multiple times, but was reluctant to give more details because he didn't want to “prejudice” the case.

The officer who shot and killed the teenager is now on administrative leave. Belmar said the officer has been with the Ferguson force for six years and appears to have had "no other issues" in the past.

Belmar did not indicate whether police believe the shooting was justified.

'Kill the police!'

An angry crowd gathered in the vicinity of the shooting scene on Sunday, as police deployed some 60 officers, including SWAT. Brown's stepfather, Louis Head, held a sign that read: "Ferguson police just executed my unarmed son!!!" Protesters shouted obscenities and chanted “Kill the police!”

The tension somewhat deescalated when the crowd held a vigil for Brown, laying candles, flowers, and stuffed toys at an improvised memorial at the center of the scene.

Around 100 people protested in front of the Ferguson Police Department, chanting: “No Justice! No Peace!”

The anger in the streets was mirrored by a storm of outraged comments on social media.

Missouri Senator Jamilah Nasheed said she would petition the US Justice Department for a formal investigation. The St. Louis County chapter of the NAACP called for FBI involvement.

"With the recent events of a young man killed by the police in New York City and with Trayvon Martin and with all the other African-American young men that have been killed by police officers...this is a dire concern to the NAACP, especially our local organization," NAACP's John Gaskin told AP. He was referring to the recent death of a New York man from a police chokehold, and the 2012 racially charged shooting of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin by a Florida neighborhood watch member.

"Anytime you have this type of event that's taken place, emotions are going to run high," he added. "But for 600 people to gather around an area to see where a man is lying in the street, that means something happened that should have not happened."