An 18-year-old Missouri man was shot dead by a cop Saturday, triggering outrage among residents who gathered at the scene shouting “kill the police.”
Michael Brown was on his way to his grandmother’s house in the city of Ferguson when he was gunned down at about 2:15 p.m., police and relatives said.
What prompted the Ferguson officer to open fire wasn’t immediately clear.
Multiple witnesses told KMOV that Brown was unarmed and had his hands up in the air when he was cut down.
The officer “shot again and once my friend felt that shot, he turned around and put his hands in the air,” said witness Dorian Johnson. “He started to get down and the officer still approached with his weapon drawn and fired several more shots.”
Cops said they were trying to figure out what led to the shooting.
“We’re still trying to piece together what happened and why,” St. Louis County Police spokesman Brian Schellman told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, promising a “lengthy investigation.”
The shooting sparked bedlam in the city 12 miles north of St. Louis. Some 200 irate residents filled the streets screaming and cursing at cops.
Some came face-to-face with the officers as a barking police dog paced nearby, reported the Post-Dispatch.
“Please don’t shoot me,” they hollered. “Please don’t shoot me.”
Dozens of officers, backed by a SWAT vehicle, moved in as the crowd swelled.
Louis Head, Brown’s stepfather, held a sign that said: “Ferguson police just executed my unarmed son!!!”
Brown’s mother, Lesley McSpadden, also joined the crowd and was swiftly comforted by friends and neighbors.
“This was wrong and it was cold-hearted.”
Her son, she added, “doesn’t kill, steal or rob. He doesn’t do any of that.”
An uneasy calm returned to the block hours later as mourners gathered for a prayer circle.
Brown was a 2014 graduate of Normandy High School and was scheduled to begin classes at Vatterott College on Monday, relatives said.
“He was a good kid. He didn’t live around here,” said Brown’s grandmother, Desuirea Harris. “He came to visit me and they did that to him for no reason.”
Ferguson Police Chief Thomas Jackson told the Post-Dispatch the case was immediately turned over to the St. Louis County Police.
He declined to comment on the particulars of the shooting, but noted that the officer who shot Brown had been placed on paid administrative leave.
St. Louis County NAACP President Esther Haywood expressed outrage over the incident.
“We are hurt to hear that yet another teenaged boy has been slaughtered by law enforcement especially in light of the recent death of Eric Garner in New York who was killed for selling cigarettes,” Haywood said in a statement.
“We plan to do everything within our power to ensure that the Ferguson Police Department as well as the St. Louis County Police Department releases all details pertinent to the shooting.”
Ferguson officials addressed the incident in a statement released Saturday night.
“The City of Ferguson is aware there are strong feelings following the tragic event that occurred on Canfield Drive earlier today,” it said.
“The St. Louis County Police Department is conducting an independent investigation of the events. We will provide further information as the investigation continues.”
UPDATE: Witnesses described shooting of Michael Brown; Began with police telling him to ‘Get the f*ck on the sidewalk’
Conflicting accounts are slowly emerging about a Missouri teen who was stopped for walking in the middle of the road, and then was fatally shot by Ferguson police on Saturday.
Following the shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown, police dispatched riot-control officers to deal with hundreds of protesters at the crime scene on Saturday night. KMOV reported that more than 100 police cars responded to the demonstration.
In a press conference on Sunday, St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar said that the Ferguson Police Department had requested that his office take over the investigation.
According to Belmar, one of the two teens who were stopped on the street “allegedly pushed the police officer back into the [patrol] car, where he physically assaulted the police officer.”
Belmar confirmed that the teen was unarmed, and said that his “understanding” was that there was a “struggle over the officer’s weapon” inside the police car.
“After that, the officer exited his vehicle, and there was a shooting where the officer, in fact, shot the subject,” he explained.
Belmar added that the Ferguson Police Department would not have asked the St. Louis County Crimes Against Persons Unit to investigate if it was trying to hide something.
But witness Dorin Johnson, who was walking with Brown at the time of the incident, told KTVI that the teen was holding up his hands at the time that he was shot.
“A police officer squad car pulled up,” Johnson recalled. “And when he pulled up, these was his exact words, he said, ‘Get the f*ck on the sidewalk.’ And we told the officer we was not but a minute away from our destination, and we would surely be out of the street.”
Piaget Crenshaw said she witnessed Brown unarmed, and running “for his life.”
“They shot him, and he fell,” she said. “He put his arms up to let them know he was compliant, and that he was unarmed. And they shot him twice more, and he fell to the ground and died.”
“This is another Trayvon Martin story,” she added. “A young man died before his time because of brutality from a different race. It’s racial profiling.”