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Saturday 20 September 2014

US police claim shot teenager robbed store

Published 16/08/2014 | 09:38

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This undated photo provided by the Brown family shows Michael Brown. Brown was shot and killed on Saturday, Aug. 9, 2014 by a police officer in Ferguson, Mo. Michael Brown, 18, was shot and killed in a confrontation with police in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson, Mo, on Saturday, Aug. 9, 2014. (AP Photo/Brown Family)
Michael Brown
A woman voices her displeasure after the name of the officer involved in the shooting of Michael Brown was released in Ferguson, Missouri August 15, 2014. Police Chief Thomas Jackson on Friday identified Darren Wilson as the police officer who fatally shoot an unarmed black teenager, which led to days of sometimes-violent demonstrations.  REUTERS/Lucas Jackson (UNITED STATES - Tags: CIVIL UNREST CRIME LAW)
Protesters against the shooting of Michael Brown
Louis Head, stepfather to 18-year-old Michael Brown who was fatally shot by police, holds a sign in Ferguson
Louis Head, stepfather to 18-year-old Michael Brown who was fatally shot by police, holds a sign in Ferguson

Police say a black teenager shot dead by an officer was suspected of robbing a store shortly before he was killed.

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They released documents saying Michael Brown, 18, was believed to have stolen a £30 box of cigars from a convenience store in a "strong-arm" robbery in Ferguson, a predominantly black suburb of St Louis, Missouri.

Police Chief Thomas Jackson said the officer did not know he was a robbery suspect at the time of the shooting and stopped Mr Brown and a companion "because they were walking down the middle of the street blocking traffic".

The officer who shot Mr Brown, Darren Wilson, 28, had been a policeman for six years and had no complaints filed against him, Mr Jackson said.

An incident in a store in Ferguson, Missouri August 9, 2014 is seen in these still images taken from a security camera and presented to the media during a news conference by the Ferguson Police Department on August 15, 2014. Authorities named Darren Wilson as the police officer who killed an unarmed black teenager in Ferguson, Missouri last weekend, saying the officer had a good record and the incident came in the aftermath of a robbery in which the teen was a suspect. Ferguson Police Chief Tom Jackson said there had been a report of a robbery of cigars in a convenience store in the area a few minutes before police officer Darren Wilson encountered Michael Brown walking down the street near an apartment complex.  REUTERS/Ferguson Police Department/Handout via Reuters (UNITED STATES - Tags: CIVIL UNREST CRIME LAW) NO SALES. NO ARCHIVES. FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS
Still footage from a store robbery in Ferguson

Mr Brown's death ignited four days of police clashes with furious protesters, but the tension eased on Thursday after Missouri's governor turned oversight of the protests over to the state Highway Patrol.

Within hours, the mood on the street eased, with state troopers walking side-by-side with peaceful protesters and no hint of violence. Gone were the police in riot gear and armoured vehicles, pointing assault rifles at protesters and firing tear gas into crowds.

Last night civil rights leader the Rev Jesse Jackson linked arms with protesters as they marched to the site where Mr Brown was killed.

Relatives quickly questioned whether the police officer really believed Mr Brown was a suspect and said no robbery would justify shooting him after he put his hands up.

"It's bad enough they assassinated him, and now they're trying to assassinate his character," the family's lawyer, Benjamin Crump, said.

A lawyer for the teenager was with Mr Brown on the day of the shooting said his client has acknowledged to investigators that Mr Brown took cigars from the store.

Officer Wilson has been on administrative leave since the August 9 shooting.

Mr Jackson described him as a "gentle, quiet man" who had been an excellent officer and on the Ferguson force for four years.

Police records show that at 11.51am on the day of the shooting, authorities received a call reporting a robbery at the Ferguson Market. An unidentified officer was dispatched, arriving within three minutes.

The officer interviewed an employee and customer, who gave a description of a man who stole the cigars and walked off with another man towards another store.

Descriptions of the suspect were broadcast over the police radio. The officer did not find the suspects on the street or at the other store, the reports said. The suspects were identified as Mr Brown and Dorian Johnson, 22.

Separately, Officer Wilson had been responding to a nearby call involving a sick child. Shortly after that, he encountered Mr Brown walking down a street. The documents contained no description of what happened between the two.

Mr Johnson has told reporters that the officer ordered the pair to move on to the pavement, then grabbed his friend's neck and tried to pull him into the car before brandishing his weapon and firing. He said Mr Brown started to run and the officer pursued him, firing several times.

Police said they found evidence of the stolen merchandise on Mr Brown's body.

Mr Crump noted that police did not release a photo of the officer, but showed images from the store's security video that they say show Mr Brown grabbing a man inside the store. Mr Crump said he had not seen the photos.

Police "are choosing to disseminate information that is very strategic to try to help them justify the 'execution-style' killing", said Mr Crump.

Mr Crump also represented the family of Trayvon Martin, the unarmed black teenager shot dead by a Florida neighbourhood watch organiser who was later acquitted of murder.

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