By Brandie Piper, Yamiche Alcindor, and John Bacon
Published Aug. 12, 2014 on USAToday.com. A version of this story was published in USA Today’s print edition Aug. 13. This story was shared more than 15,000 times on Facebook, and tweeted more than 900 times.
FERGUSON, Mo. — Authorities on Tuesday delayed revealing the identity of the police officer who fatally shot an unarmed teen three days ago, citing threats against the officer on social media.
Police Chief Thomas Jackson had said he would reveal the officer’s name by noon Tuesday. Police department spokesman Timothy Zoll said because of the threats there is now no timetable for release of the name.
Witnesses say Michael Brown, 18, had raised his hands to surrender when the shots were fired. Police have not confirmed that information.
Monday night, officers in riot gear lobbed tear gas at crowds angered by the weekend shooting. There were 15 arrests but no reports of looting.
“This is a lot of young people reacting to getting shot at with tear gas, being met with riot gear,” said protester Shawn Jordan. “How else are these young kids going to react when they are being met with aggressiveness?”
Jackson said members of the crowd threw rocks at police and gunfire came from the crowd, so officers used tear gas and shot “beanbag rounds” meant to stun them. Jackson said police blocked off the area where most of the looting and vandalism occurred the previous night out of concern that cars passing by might hit demonstrators in the street.
At a community forum Monday, national NAACP President Cornell William Brooks demanded justice while condemning the violence and looting.
“Martin Luther King did not live and die that we might steal and lie in the name of justice in the middle of the night,” said Cornell. “He lived and died that we might seek justice in the middle of the day.”
The FBI opened an investigation Monday into the death of Brown, who police said was shot multiple times Saturday after being confronted by an officer in the predominately black St. Louis suburb of 21,000.
Authorities were vague about exactly what led the officer to open fire, except to say that the shooting was preceded by a scuffle of some kind with a man. It was unclear whether Brown or the man he was with was involved in the altercation.
Investigators have refused to publicly disclose the race of the officer, who is now on administrative leave. But Phillip Walker said he was on the porch of an apartment complex overlooking the scene when he heard a shot and saw a white officer with Brown on the street.
A protest in front of St. Louis County prosecuting attorney Bob McCulloch’s office was scheduled for Tuesday.
Sunday night, two police officers were injured and 32 arrested during riots that broke out. Demands for answers in Ferguson have been steadily growing louder. Brown’s family has retained attorney Benjamin Crump, best known as the attorney for the family of
Trayvon Martin, an unarmed black teen shot and killed by George Zimmerman, a white
neighborhood watch volunteer, in Florida in 2012.
“I don’t want to sugarcoat it, their baby was executed in broad daylight,” said Crump, who stood by Brown’s parents during a press conference Monday night. “We want to know and see exactly what happened because this family rejects what the police authorities said at their press conference.”
Crump said Brown’s death is an echo of the problems that led to the deaths of Trayvon Martin and other young black men.
Demonstrators expressed similar frustrations with many saying Brown’s death is the latest example of black life not being valued by police officers who see youth of color as dangerous. Several on Twitter using the hashtag #IfTheyGunnedMeDown expressed their anger over Brown’s death.
Brandie Piper reports for KSDK-TV in St. Louis. Contributing: Elizabeth Matthews and Christina Coleman.