NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — The police chief in the St. Louis suburb where an officer fatally shot an unarmed teenager identified the officer on Friday as six-year department veteran Darren Wilson.
Ferguson Police Chief Thomas Jackson made the announcement after initially declining to the release the name, saying the officer had received numerous death threats.
The officer has been on administrative leave since the shooting Saturday of 18-year-old Michael Brown, whose death has sparked several days of clashes with furious protesters.
“He’s been a police officer for six years, has had no disciplinary action taken against him,” said Jackson. “He was treated for injuries that occurred on Saturday.”
Police reports also released Friday by Jackson said Brown and his friend, Dorian Johnson, were suspected of stealing a $49 box of cigars from a convenience store in Ferguson that morning.
Jackson said Wilson responded after a 911 call reported a “strong-arm” robbery just before noon.
He said a dispatcher gave a description of the suspect, and Wilson encountered the 6-foot-4, 292-pound Brown a few minutes before another officer arrived.
The officer who stopped Brown is said to not have known he was a suspect in the robbery, KMOX’s Allison Blood told WCBS 880 Friday.
Police say Brown was stopped because he was standing in the road and blocking traffic.
Now what happened from the moment he was stopped to the moment he was shot, that’s what we don’t know and that’s probably the most relevant information,” Blood said.
The family’s attorney, Benjamin Crump, said Brown’s parents were “incensed” after being blind-sided by the public announcement and allegations against their son.
“It’s bad enough they assassinated him, and now they’re trying to assassinate his character,” he said.
Crump noted that police aren’t releasing a photo of the officer but released photos from the store’s security video that they say shows Brown grabbing a man inside the store. Crump said he hadn’t seen the photos.
“(Police) are choosing to disseminate information that is very strategic to try to help them justify the execution-style murder of their son by this police officer in broad daylight,” 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.
Jackson said of the video, “We got a lot of Freedom of Information requests for this tape and at some point it was just determined we had to release.”
The video, dated Aug. 9, appears to show a man wearing a ball cap, shorts and white T-shirt grabbing a much shorter man by his shirt near the store’s door.
A police report alleges that Brown grabbed a man who had come from behind the store counter by his shirt and “forcefully pushed him back” into a display rack.
Johnson acknowledged to investigators that he and Brown were in the store and “that he did take cigarillos,” his attorney, Freeman Bosley, told MSNBC. Bosley said he was aware of the video but had not seen it.
Brown’s uncle, Bernard Ewing, questioned whether Wilson really believed Brown was a suspect.
He noted Johnson’s account that the officer encountered the two young men and told them to get out of the street and that Brown had his hands up when he was shot.
“If he’s a robbery suspect, they would have had the lights on,” Ewing said. “If you rob somebody, you would tell them, ‘Get on the ground’ or something, not, ‘Get off the sidewalk.”’
“It still doesn’t justify shooting him when he puts his hands up,” he added. “You still don’t shoot him in the face.”
Police had said earlier that Brown was shot after an officer encountered him and another man on the street during a routine patrol.
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 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 said Brown started to run and the officer pursued him, firing multiple times.
Brown’s death has sparked several days of clashes with furious protesters in the city, but protests held in Ferguson Thursday night were calm.
Capt. Ron Johnson of the Missouri Highway Patrol led hundreds in the peaceful march.
The Missouri Highway Patrol now oversees the protesters after Gov. Jay Nixon stripped local police of their duties.
“We are a community,” said Capt. Johnson. “We are all part of a community, and we are in it together.”
With officers in uniform and not riot gear, the tone was much different.
Vigils were also observed in more than 90 cities Thursday as part of a National Moment of Silence for Brown and for Eric Garner, who died in police custody on Staten Island.
In New York, thousands of people gathered in Times Square and Union Square, invoking the rallying cries “hands up, don’t shoot” and “I can’t breathe,” alluding to the 43-year-old Garner, who died after being placed in an apparent chokehold by police.
PHOTOS: Times Square March
Garner was being arrested on suspicion of selling loose, untaxed cigarettes.
The father of six, who had asthma, can be heard on video shouting “I can’t breathe!” and died a short time later.
“There’s just like a lot of injustice right now,” one Bronx resident said. “People like me, people like everyone here, we have to like live in fear.”
“We here, as a people in New York City, are outraged because even if it’s happening in Missouri, it’s happening everywhere,” said Brooklyn resident Cris Hilo.
Police Commissioner Bill Bratton has said officers will be retrained on the use of force.
While the Midtown protest was peaceful, the rally did turn chaotic as officers tried controlling the flow of marchers with orange netting, CBS 2’s Don Champion reported.
At one point several people were seen being taken into custody, but in the end the NYPD said only five arrests were made.
In downtown St. Louis, several hundred people gathered in Brown’s memory.
The attendees included Brown’s mother, Lesley McSpadden, who didn’t address the crowd but waved, drawing applause as she wiped away tears.
Check Out These Other Stories From CBSNewYork.com:
- Cleanup Underway After Powerful Storms Slam Tri-State Area
- 2 Attackers, 1 Hostage Killed In Normandy Church
- Cars Damaged In Suffolk County As Man Drags Fallen Tree Behind Truck
- Weather Snags LIRR Lines Across System; Penn Station Briefly Shut Down
(TM and © Copyright 2014 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2014 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)