Police on Friday identified the officer who fatally shot an unarmed black teenager in a St. Louis suburb and released documents alleging the young man had been suspected of stealing a $48.99 box of cigars from a convenience store in a “strong-arm” robbery shortly before he was killed.
Police Chief Thomas Jackson said the officer who fired the fatal shots, Darren Wilson, did not know Michael Brown was a robbery suspect when he initially stopped the teen and a companion “because they were walking down the middle of the street blocking traffic.” Jackson told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that Wilson knew there had been a robbery in the area but did not know that Brown was a suspect.
Wilson, 28, has been an officer in suburban St. Louis for six years and had no complaints filed against him, Jackson said. Police previously refused to identify Wilson, citing concerns over the officer’s safety.
Brown’s death ignited four days of clashes with furious protesters. The tension eased Thursday after the governor turned oversight of the protests over to the Missouri Highway Patrol. Within hours, the mood on the street lighted, with state troopers walking side-by-side with peaceful protesters and no hint of violence. Gone were the police in riot gear and armored vehicles, pointing assault rifles at protesters and firing tear gas into crowds.
Brown’s relatives immediately questioned whether the officer really believed Brown was a suspect and said no robbery would justify shooting the teen after he put his hands up. Later, a lawyer for the teen’s parents acknowledged that the robbery suspect in the surveillance video appeared to be Brown.
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