Huffpost Crime

Ferguson, Missouri Community Furious After Teen Shot Dead By Police

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TAMMIE HOLLAND
Tammie Holland

Following the shooting of 18-year-old man by a police officer in the city of Ferguson, Missouri, an outraged community gathered to demand answers. Michael Brown, a black teen and recent high school graduate, was shot dead in the city north of St. Louis on Saturday. The victim's grandmother said she found her grandson's body in the street, shortly after seeing him walking near her home, the Associated Press reports. A spokesman for the St. Louis County Police Department confirmed that a Ferguson police officer shot the man, but provided no further details on why the shooting occurred. Witnesses said that Brown was unarmed, KMOV reports.

A crowd quickly gathered at the scene, as did 100 police cars from 15 departments, according to KSDK. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that protesters came face-to-face with police at the site of the shooting, raising their arms and saying "Please don't shoot me." A dumpster was reportedly lit on fire. As tempers cooled, mourners participated in a prayer circle and vigil.

A man identified as the victim's stepfather held a sign that said, "Ferguson police just executed my unarmed son!!!" Lesley McSpadden, a woman the Post-Dispatch identifies as the victim's mother said, "I know they killed my son," and, "This was wrong and it was cold-hearted."

Images of the crime scene and following demonstrations were posted to social media.

More from the Associated Press:

FERGUSON, Mo. (AP) — Desiree Harris saw her grandson running near her home Tuesday afternoon when she passed him in her car. Minutes later, she found his body on the street — fatally shot by a police officer.
The shooting of the black teenager, a recent high school graduate, sent hundreds of angry residents out of their apartments in the predominantly black St. Louis suburb of Ferguson in a confrontation with police that lasted several hours. They shouted obscenities and some threats, such as "kill the police," but there were no reports of additional injuries.
Harris said she was expecting her 18-year-old grandson, Michael Brown, to visit her that afternoon and discovered him dead after she heard the commotion outside the apartment complex.
"He was running this way," she said. "When I got up there, my grandson was lying on the pavement. I asked the police what happened. They didn't tell me nothing."
Brown's mother, Lesley McSpadden, told an acquaintance the shooting was "wrong and it was cold-hearted," the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported. According to the newspaper, Brown's stepfather, Louis Head, held a sign that read: "Ferguson police just executed my unarmed son!!!"
A spokesman with the St. Louis County Police Department, which is investigating the shooting at the request of the local department, confirmed a Ferguson police officer shot the man. The spokesman didn't give the reason for the shooting.
John Gaskin, a member of the St. Louis County NAACP, said the FBI should get involved "to protect the integrity of the investigation." He alluded to the 2012 racially-charged shooting of a 17-year-old high school student by a Florida neighborhood watch organizer who was subsequently acquitted of murder charges, as well as the death of a New York man from a police chokehold after he was confronted for selling individual cigarettes on the street.
"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," Gaskin said.
Gaskin said officials in the organization spoke with St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar, who told them teenager had been shot twice.
By early Saturday night, dozens of police cars remained parked near the shooting scene as mourners left votive candles, rose petals, a large stuffed animal and other remembrances at a makeshift memorial in the middle of the street. At the height of the post-shooting tensions, police at the scene called for about 60 other police units to respond to the area in Ferguson, a city of about 21,000 residents, about two-thirds of whom are black.
Harris said her grandson had recently graduated high school and was looking forward to the future, including possibly attending college.
"My grandson never even got into a fight," she said. "He was just looking forward to getting on with his life. He was on his way."
Ferguson Police Chief Thomas Jackson told the Post-Dispatch that the officer involved has been placed on paid administrative leave.
"We are hoping for calm and for people to give us a chance to conduct a thorough investigation," Jackson said.
Gaskin said the angry crowd was reacting to a "trauma."
"Anytime you have this type of event that's taken place, emotions are going to run high," he said. "But for 600 people to gather around an area to see where a man is lying in the street, that means something happened that should have not happened."
___
Associated Press writer Maria Sudekum contributed from Kansas City, Missouri.

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USA Today's Yamiche Alcindor provides an intimate look at how Michael Brown's parents have been dealing with the loss of their son:

Phones constantly ring with reporters asking for interviews or family members offering support. Last week, as demands reached a tipping point, both parents moved into hotels to shield themselves.

In the days leading up to the funeral, Brown's mother continued to cry and spoke in whispers as she tried to explain her feelings.

"They say tomorrow is going to be the hardest day, but I think today was — just seeing my baby laying there, cold," Lesley McSpadden, 34, told USA TODAY. "It did something to my heart. It's too much. It's too much."

Read the rest at USA Today.

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New audio has surfaced that allegedly captures the moment when Michael Brown, an unarmed black teenager, was shot dead by Darren Wilson, a white police officer, on Aug. 9.

CNN aired the unverified recording on Monday night. Six shots can be heard, followed by a pause, then several more. A private autopsy performed on Aug. 17 at the request of Brown's family found that the 18-year-old was shot 6 times, including twice in the head.

Read the rest here.

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USA Today reporter, Yamiche Alcindor shares photo of program which includes tributes to Michael Brown from his mother and father

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08/25/2014 11:57 AM EDT
Program For The Funeral
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08/25/2014 11:04 AM EDT
Noteworthy Funeral Attendees
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08/25/2014 10:58 AM EDT
Waiting For Brown's Family
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08/25/2014 10:57 AM EDT
Police Captain Ron Johnson Arrives
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08/25/2014 10:45 AM EDT
Mo. Sen. To Attend Funeral
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08/25/2014 10:37 AM EDT
Casket In Place

MSNBC reports:

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08/25/2014 10:35 AM EDT
Funeral Security
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08/25/2014 10:33 AM EDT
Brown's Father Asks For Peace
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MSNBC reports:

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08/25/2014 10:26 AM EDT
Hands Up
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08/25/2014 10:22 AM EDT
Sanctuary Filling Fast For Funeral

CNN reports:

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Missouri congressman Lacy Clay (D) said on Thursday that he had "serious concerns" about the prosecutor in charge of Michael Brown's case.

"I also have serious concerns about the local prosecutors, about their ability to fairly prosecute this case in the interests of justice. To deliver justice to this community, or to Michael Brown's family. And I say that because we have a track record," Clay told CNN.

Prosecuting Attorney Robert McCulloch has come under heavy scrutiny in the days following Brown's death. Critics say that McCulloch's ties to law enforcement will cloud his judgement and have called on Governor Jay Nixon (D) to appoint a special prosecutor instead. A petition against him has received over 70,000 signatures.

McCulloch's father was a police officer killed in the line of duty.

For his part, McCulloch has promised that his investigation will be fair and thorough. In a statement, he said:

I have no intention of walking away from the responsibilities and duties entrusted to me by the people of this community. Additionally, there is no basis in the law to do so. I have faithfully and fairly carried out those responsibilities and duties for more than two decades and will continue to do so for at least the next four years.

Nixon has also repeatedly insisted that he won't take McCulloch off the case.

Alana Horowitz

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From HuffPost's Dave Jamieson:

Like the rest of the St. Louis community, including their own teachers, Gateway students had emotional discussions about being black in America, about mistrust of the police, about peaceful demonstration and violent protest. They were asked to write down what they were feeling about Ferguson, with the assurance that no sentiments were out of bounds.

Click here to read excerpts from the responses penned by a group of 7th and 8th graders at the school.

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Washington Post reports that Darren Wilson was injured following a scuffle with Michael Brown before he shot and killed him.

A family friend told WaPo that Wilson's eye bone was fractured. Fox News reported similar information earlier this week, citing a police source.

Another source told CNN that these reports are false.

Last week, Ferguson Police Chief Tom Jackson told reporters that Wilson was taken to the hospital following the incident, but did not say for what.

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HuffPost's Arthur Delaney reports:

When Attorney General Eric Holder went to Ferguson, Missouri, on Wednesday, he assured local residents the U.S. Justice Department will swiftly investigate the police killing of an unarmed black teenager on Aug. 9.

In meetings with locals, Holder emphasized how his own past experiences will inform his work overseeing the Justice Department's investigation of Michael Brown's killing. He told students at a community college there that police searched his car when he'd been stopped for speeding on the New Jersey Turnpike.

"I remember how humiliating that was and how angry I was and the impact it had on me," Holder said. "The same kid who got stopped on the New Jersey freeway is now the attorney general of the United States."

But Holder's critics point out that this is the same man who was woefully soft on bad cops when he served as Washington, D.C.'s top prosecutor in the mid-1990s.

"Relying on Holder to take action is like sending a guy with a cup of water to put out a wildfire," said Gregory Lattimer, an attorney who has represented family members of people killed by D.C. police, including DeOnte Rawlings, a 14-year-old boy shot in the back of the head by an off-duty officer in 1997.

"[Holder] was part of the problem in D.C., not the solution," Lattimer said. "He says all the right things and then he goes out and defends the status quo."

Read more here.

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