Shooting of unarmed teen sparks civil unrest
JIM SALTER | 8/15/2014, 12:27 p.m.
The Associated Press
FERGUSON, Mo. – An unarmed 18-year-old African American teen was shot and killed by police in Ferguson, a 70 percent Black suburb a few miles north of Downtown St. Louis, Missouri, on Saturday. According to Ferguson Police Chief Thomas Jackson, the man who was shot was unarmed. Police have not disclosed the name of the youth who was killed, but family members say it was 18-year-old Michael Brown.
“My grandson never even got into a fight,” said Brown’s grandmother, stating that he recently graduated high school. “He was just looking forward to getting on with his life. He was on his way.”
The other young man was 22-year-old Dorian Johnson.
St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar said at a news conference on Sunday that the officer encountered two people on the street near an apartment complex that afternoon. Johnson told WALB-TV that he and Brown were walking home from a convenience store when the officer used an expletive as he told them to get out of the street and onto the sidewalk. After which he said they replied that they were almost home and would be out of the street shortly. He said the officer drove off, but then returned seconds later. As the officer tried to open his door, it hit the young men and bounced back. Johnson said the officer then grabbed Brown by his neck and tried to pull him into the vehicle. He stated that was when the scuffle began.
According to a statement made by Johnson, there was no warning that the officer was going to shoot.
“Until he pulled out his weapon and he said ‘I’ll shoot you’ or ‘I’m going to shoot.’ And in the same moment, the first shot went off,” Johnson said. “He was shot and there was blood coming from him. And we took off running. As we took off running, I duck and hid for my life because I was fearing for my life.”
As Johnson continued, he stated that both he and Brown ran in fear for their lives as the officer pursued them with his gun drawn. The officer shot Brown again and the 18-year-old stopped and turned around with his hands up. As Brown began to “get down on the ground” the officer shot the young man a few more times.
“We wasn’t causing harm to nobody,” Johnson told the television station. “We had no weapons on us at all.”
However, the officer’s report contradicted the young witness’ statement.
Belmar said one of the men pushed the officer back into his squad car and the struggle began. It was then, according to the official, the officer said at least one shot was fired from the officer’s gun inside the police car.
Belmar said the struggle spilled out into the street, where one of the two people was shot multiple times, the exact number of shots wasn’t known, but “It was more than just a couple.” He also said all shell casings found at the scene matched the officer’s gun.