According to Fox News, 18-year-old Michael Brown was fatally shot in broad daylight by police last Saturday in St. Louis while walking to his grandmother’s house. Eyewitness reports allege that the teenager was unarmed, fleeing, and had his hands held high when an unidentified officer from the St. Louis-area Ferguson Police Department opened fire multiple times, killing him.
St. Louis Police Chief Jon Belmar claimed in a statement that the teen had pushed the officer into his squad car and attempted to grab a gun prior to the shooting, but eyewitness accounts painted a completely different picture. Dorin Johnson, a friend of Michael Brown’s who was walking with him at the time of the incident, claimed that the officer pulled up, ordered the teens to get out of the street and then reached out of his squad car, without exiting the vehicle, and grabbed Brown around the neck. The Los Angeles Times quoted bystander Piaget Crenshaw, who said, “I witnessed the police chase after the guy, full force. He ran for his life. They shot him and he fell. He put his arms up to let them know that he was compliant and he was unarmed, and they shot him twice more and he fell to the ground and died.”
The victim’s stepfather characterized the shooting as an execution. Michael Brown’s grandmother had just passed him in her car as he was walking to her house, only to find him lying dead moments later. Brown had just graduated from Normandy High School and was set to start at Vatterott College on Monday.
Brown’s body was left in the street for hours by police, and an angry crowd of residents gathered around the scene of the incident. Police formed a blockade around the location, leading to an an hours-long and heated confrontation between officers and hundreds of local citizens. Allegedly, the anger reached a fever pitch when the crowd began chanting, “kill the police.”
Since that time, chaos and unrest has broken out in St. Louis. A vigil, attended by thousands, formed in memory of Michael Brown. Protesters surrounded the Ferguson Police Department and still remain there as of Monday. Riots erupted, and, amid the chaos, at least 12 businesses were either vandalized or looted. A QuikTrip convenience store was set on fire. Anonymous-related hacktivists allegedly took down the City of Ferguson’s website. Two police officers were injured during the riots, and 32 rioters were arrested for a variety of crimes ranging from assault to burglary.
Ferguson police chief Thomas Jackson asked the St. Louis County Police Department to investigate the shooting. Subsequently, county police announced on Facebook on Sunday, “The FBI will be contacted today and notified of the incident. If they choose, they may conduct a separate use-of-force investigation on this incident directly with the Ferguson Police Department.” Eric Holder also announced that the Department of Justice would look into the use of deadly force against Brown.
Said John Gaskin of the St. Louis County NAACP, “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.” He has called for the FBI to conduct an independent investigation of the shooting. The FBI has since announced that it will launch a probe into the circumstances surrounding the use of deadly force against Brown.
Reverend Al Sharpton released a statement on the incident, “I just spoke with Leslie McSpadden, the grandfather of Michael Brown. He has asked me to come to St. Louis in light of the police killing of his grandson to assist the family in achieving a fair investigation and justice. I assured him that National Action Network will stand with the family, as we have done for families around the country and assist in any way that we can. I am dispatching Rev. De-Ves Toon of our National Action Network field department to St. Louis immediately to prepare for my visit, and to work with groups in the area as we pursue justice in the tradition of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.”
Brown’s grandmother described him as a good kid, “My grandson never even got into a fight. He was just looking forward to getting on with his life. He was on his way.” The unidentified officer who shot him, who has been on the force for six years, was placed on administrative leave pending an investigation. The community and victim’s family are calling for him to be fired and charged with murder.
In response to the riots, Michael Brown’s family and Ferguson Mayor James Knowles urged rioters and protesters to stop the violence.