Ferguson Police Reveal Identity of Officer Who Shot Michael Brown
Six days after unarmed 18-year-old Michael Brown was shot and killed by police in Ferguson, Missouri, authorities have released the name of the officer who shot him. He is Darren Wilson, a six-year veteran with no disciplinary record.
The news came out at a press conference with Ferguson Police Chief Thomas Jackson on Friday morning, in which police also released surveillance footage that they say is Brown committing a robbery at a nearby convenience store minutes before the shooting down the road. Jackson gave no updates or further information as to what occurred at the scene of the shooting, other than a brief timeline of events leading up to the incident and its immediate aftermath. He did not say how many times Brown was shot, for example.
Numerous citizens attended the press conference and were angered by the apparent implication of Brown in the robbery, suggesting that Jackson was trying to justify the subsequent shooting. According to Jackson, Officer Wilson was responding to a 911 call from the convenience store and that Brown fit the description of the suspected robber.
Surveillance video showed an altercation, in which a store employee was shoved, allegedly by Brown after he and his friend Dorian Johnson had stolen a box of Swisher Sweets cigars. Police released an information packet which included the official report of the "strongarm robbery," describing it thus (store employees' names have been redacted):
As (redacted) was placing the boxes on the counter, Brown grabbed a box of Swisher Sweets cigars and handed them to Johnson who was standing behind Brown. (Redacted) witnessed (redacted) tell Brown that he had to pay for those cigars first. That is when Brown reached across the counter and grabbed numerous packs of Swisher Sweets and turned to leave the store. (Redacted) then calls '911.' Meanwhile (redacted) comes out from behind the counter and attempts to stop Brown from leaving. According to (redacted),(redacted) was trying to lock the door until Brown returned the merchandise to him. That is when Brown grabbed (redacted) by the shirt and forcefully pushed him back in to a display rack. (Redacted) backed away and Brown and Johnson exited the store with the cigars.
Here are some stills from the video:
Some reporters tweeted photos of the packet:
Chief Jackson did not answer any questions, but did speak on why he chose to release the name of the officer in the shooting today. “A lot of the stakeholders had a big meeting conversation yesterday, and then yesterday evening,” he said, “and we made the determination that today is the day. Nothing specific went into that decision, but we feel that there’s a certain calm. There’s a huge outcry from the community.”
It has been a tumultuous week in the small St. Louis suburb of 21,000, beginning with protests against the shooting itself and then at the police department's decision not to reveal the identity of the officer. For several nights, there were clashes between protestors and police, who many have said used overly heavy-handed, militaristic tactics to quell the situation.
Those tactics changed on Thursday, when Missouri Governor Jay Nixon put the state Highway Patrol in charge. The highway patrol response is being headed by Captain Ronald S. Johnson, a Ferguson native who has ordered the removal of the riot gear and armored trucks, apparently leading to a much calmer atmosphere. There were no arrests or altercations on Thursday night.