Ferguson Police Release Name of Officer Involved in Michael Brown Shooting

Ferguson, Missouri Police Chief Thomas Jackson named the officer who shot and killed Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri Saturday, August 9, 2014 is Darren Wilson.

Ferguson, Missouri Police Chief Thomas Jackson named the officer who shot and killed Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri Saturday, August 9, 2014 is Darren Wilson.

FERGUSON, Mo. — After almost a week of withholding the identity of a police officer who fatally shot teenager Michael Brown, police identified the officer as Darren Wilson at a news conference on Friday morning. He’s a six-year veteran of the force. Wilson previously had no disciplinary record and was treated for injuries following the shooting according to Ferguson Police Chief Thomas Jackson.

According to a police report, Brown was identified by Ferguson police on Saturday, August 9 as one of two suspects in a strong-armed robbery at a convenience store that happened at about 11:50 a.m. The report says that after reviewing surveillance video and talking to witnesses, police identified Brown as one of two suspects  in the robbery where multiple boxes of cigars were taken. According to Chief Jackson, Wilson left a sick call he was on to respond to the robbery and came into contact with Brown as he and the other suspect were walking at 12:01. Another officer arrived at 12:04 after Brown had been shot and shortly afterwards a supervisor arrived.

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Police have said the shooting occurred during a struggle for Wilson’s gun. Witnesses have said Brown’s arms were raised when he was shot, and he was unarmed.

Before naming him, Jackson spoke to CNN’s Don Lemon and said the officer was “devastated” by what had happened.

“This is his community,” Jackson said. “He never wanted any of this to happen.”

The release of Wilson’s name satisfies a key demand of protesters and critics of the handling of the case by the suburban St. Louis police department and St. Louis County investigators handling the probe.

Peace reigns after multiple nights of chaos

Ferguson remained at peace after night fell on Thursday for the first time since Michael Brown was killed. Brown, an African-American teen, was shot to death on Saturday.

After days of sometimes violent protests, the Missouri State Highway Patrol took over security for the protests.

Gone were the military gear and vehicles, the stun grenades, plastic pellets and tear gas police deployed on previous nights. So were the Molotov cocktails, sounds of gunfire and strife from protesters who had wandered among peaceful demonstrators.

The crowds swelled and became more diverse Thursday; their chants for justice accompanied a concert of honking car horns, and though their cause was somber, their mood was buoyant.

Despite the celebrated change in tone after his department stepped back, Jackson said Friday he is not going to resign, as some critics have suggested he do.

“I’m not going anywhere. I’m going to stay and see this through,” he said.

The crowds swelled and became more diverse on Thursday; their chants for justice accompanied a concert of honking car horns, and though their cause was somber, their mood was buoyant.

Gone were the military gear and vehicles, the stun grenades, plastic pellets and tear gas police deployed on previous nights. So were the Molotov cocktails, sounds of gunfire and strife from protesters who had wandered among peaceful demonstrators.

After the St. Louis suburb had looked like a police state Wednesday night, Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon relieved local police departments of the crowd control command and handed it over to the highway patrol.

“The attitudes weren’t improving, and the blocks towards expression appeared to be a flashpoint,” he said. Nixon wanted security to back off and let people vent their feelings appropriately.

Highway patrol Capt. Ron Johnson is now in charge.

“We have different approach that we’re using this evening,” he told CNN’s Don Lemon. Smiling instead of scowling is key. “I’ve smiled more today than I have in the past few days.”

Maj. Ronnie Robinson from the St. Louis City Police is working with Johnson. He underlined the importance of dialog with residents. “We feel the pain in the community,” he said. They can protest 24 hours, if they want to.

He also insisted there will be law and order. No looting, no vandalizing. State troopers will protect small businesses, he said. And protesters may not block the streets.

Despite the new tone by authorities, some protesters said they were prepared for police aggression.

“Gas me, shoot me, I will stand my ground,” one sign read.

Antonio French, a St. Louis alderman who was arrested at a demonstration in Ferguson on Wednesday, said he’s noticed the new tone.

“Really, it has been the police presence, the heavy-handed presence, which has escalated the situation, and I think led to the violence each night. And so it’s good to see this new approach,” he said.

Diversity

Ferguson’s police department has been criticized for a lack of ethnic diversity. The St. Louis suburb’s population is two thirds African-American. Of the police force’s 53 officers, only six are African-American.

An eyewitness has said that the officer who shot Brown was Caucasian.

Both Johnson and Robinson are African-American. Though he believes in ethnic diversity and would like to see more in Ferguson’s police force, Robinson did not peg it to skin color but to a person’s ability to understand people’s culture and communicate with them.

“You’ve got to give respect to get respect,” he said.

Authorities have said that the change of appearance of the police force was intentional.

As Robinson spoke, a group of young Caucasian men behind him held up a sign calling for justice for Brown.

‘Powder keg’

The city was a “powder keg,” Ferguson Police Chief Thomas Jackson said earlier Thursday, before the change of guard in security arrangements, which the U.S. Justice Department had influenced. Attorney General Eric Holder said Thursday that local authorities had accepted the department’s help.

Upset residents gathered to protest Browns killing as soon as his body lay in the street on Saturday.

No one has disputed that Brown was unarmed. But police say he tried to grab the officer’s gun, something two witnesses dispute. They say that the officer fired on the 18-year-old as he tried to distance himself and raised his hands into the air.

Demonstrations have continued since, turning into a ruckus after nightfall, and violence has broken out. Police have detained dozens, including two journalists.

President Barack Obama on Thursday called for peace from all sides.

“There is never an excuse for violence against police or for those who would use this tragedy as a cover for vandalism or looting,” he said. “There is also no excuse for police to use excessive force against peaceful protests or to throw protesters in jail for lawfully exercising their First Amendment rights.”

Brown’s killing has gained attention around the world and moved people to protest in other U.S. cities on Thursday. In Los Angeles and in New York, hundreds gathered to demand justice for Brown.

The Los Angeles protests included commemoration for Ezell Ford, an African-American youth recently killed there. In New York, police formed a line to halt the march, CNN affiliate WABC reported.

They told the crowd to disperse and arrested a few people.

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