Anger spurred by the death of a black teenager shot by a white police officer boiled over again when protesters stormed into a Missouri convenience store, the same store that Michael Brown was accused of robbing.
Police and about 200 protesters clashed in Ferguson, Missouri late Friday after another tense day in the St. Louis suburb, a day that included authorities identifying the officer who fatally shot Brown on Aug. 9.
At the same news conference in which officer Darren Wilson was named, Ferguson Police Chief Thomas Jackson released documents alleging that Brown stole a $48.99 box of cigars from the convenience store, then strong-armed a man on his way out.
Just before midnight, some people in what had been a large and rowdy but mostly well-behaved crowd broke into that same small store and began looting it, said Missouri State Highway Patrol Capt. Ron Johnson.
Some in the crowd began throwing rocks and other objects at police, Johnson said. One officer was hurt but details on the injury were not immediately available.
Johnson said police backed off, hoping to ease the tension. No arrests were made.
“We had to evaluate the security of the officers there and also the rioters,” Johnson said.
Gov. Jay Nixon on Thursday appointed Johnson to take over security after concerns were raised about how local police had used tear gas and rubber bullets on protesters earlier in the week. Johnson said one tear gas canister was deployed Friday night.
Jackson’s decision to spell out the allegations that Brown committed the robbery, and his releasing of surveillance video, angered attorneys for Brown’s family and others, including U.S. Rep. William Lacy Clay. Earlier Friday night, the Democratic congressman took a bullhorn and told protesters, “They have attempted to taint the investigation. They are trying to influence a jury pool by the stunt they pulled today.”
Family attorney Daryl Parks acknowledged that the man shown in the surveillance footage “appears to be” Brown. But he and others said that even if it was Brown, the crime didn’t justify the shooting of a teen after he put up his hands in surrender to the officer, as witnesses allege.
Another family attorney, Benjamin Crump, said police “are choosing to disseminate information that is very strategic to try to help them justify the execution-style” killing, said Crump, who also represented the family of Trayvon Martin, the teenager fatally shot by a Florida neighborhood watch organizer who was later acquitted of murder.
The surveillance video appears to show a man wearing a cap, shorts and white T-shirt grabbing a much shorter man by his shirt near the store’s door.
Police said they found evidence of the stolen merchandise on Brown’s body.
Brown’s family and supporters have been pushing for release of the officer’s name. Wilson is a six-year police veteran, two in neighboring Jennings and four in Ferguson, and had no previous complaints filed against him, Jackson said.
The police chief described Wilson as “a gentle, quiet man” who had been “an excellent officer.” Wilson has been on paid administrative leave since the shooting.
Also Friday, the U.S. Justice Department confirmed that FBI agents had conducted several interviews with witnesses as part of a civil-rights investigation into Brown’s death, which is continuing.
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