Ferguson police say Michael Brown fit description of strong-arm robbery suspect
Published August 15, 2014FoxNews.com
Michael Brown, the unarmed black teenager who was fatally shot by a police officer in a St. Louis suburb, fit the description of a strong-arm robbery suspect that police were responding to the night he was shot, the Ferguson police chief said at a Friday press conference.
Ferguson Police Chief Thomas Jackson said that the robbery took place at a nearby convenient store. When police confronted Brown, they said a struggle ensued. Jackson went on to identify the police officer in the shooting as Darren Wilson, a six-year veteran with no disciplinary action on his record.
Protesters had been calling on police to be more transparent in the investigation. Police said they withheld the name because of the potential for threats on the officer and his family. The officer has been on administrative leave since the shooting.
Jackson said Wilson, along with other officers, were called to the area after a 911 call reporting a "strong-arm robbery" at a nearby convenience store. He didn't immediately release details about the alleged robbery, saying more information would be released later.
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 before the struggle spilled onto the street, where Brown was shot multiple times, according to police.
But a much different story has been told by Dorian Johnson, who says he was walking down the street with Brown when he was shot. 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.
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Tensions in the Ferguson 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 Obama spoke publicly for the first time about Saturday's fatal 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.
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. "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."
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