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Thursday, September 18, 2014
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Published: Saturday, 8/16/2014 - Updated: 1 month ago

UNARMED 18-YEAR-OLD’S DEATH

Police release identity of officer who shot man

Surveillance tape’s release stirs anger

BLADE STAFF AND NEWS SERVICES
Missouri Highway Patrol Capt. Ronald Johnson addresses the crowd of protesters on Thursday, asking them to stay on the sidewalk and not block traffic. Missouri Highway Patrol Capt. Ronald Johnson addresses the crowd of protesters on Thursday, asking them to stay on the sidewalk and not block traffic.
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FERGUSON, Mo. — The police in Ferguson broke their weeklong silence Friday and identified the officer involved in the fatal shooting of a young, unarmed African-American man, as demanded by protesters and the family of the victim.

At the same time, the police released videotape and photographs they said showed that the victim, Michael Brown, 18, was suspected of taking part in a robbery at a convenience store shortly before the shooting.

Later, however, the police chief in Ferguson, Thomas Jackson, said the officer involved in the shooting, Darren Wilson, had not been aware that Mr. Brown “was a suspect in the case” when he stopped Mr. Brown and a companion “because they were walking down the street, blocking traffic.”

The manner in which Ferguson officials disclosed the information on Friday, which included a police report on the robbery but no new details about last Saturday’s shooting, set off renewed anger among residents and quickly overshadowed the release of the officer’s name.

Chief Jackson had suggested that Officer Wilson had been alerted to the robbery shortly before the encounter with Mr. Brown, who was walking home from a store when he was shot.

Hours later, however, Chief Jackson said Officer Wilson was not aware that Mr. Brown might be a suspect in the crime when he confronted him.

Security camera images from a convenience store in Ferguson, Mo., from last Saturday allegedly show Michael Brown in a confrontation with a store employee. Security camera images from a convenience store in Ferguson, Mo., from last Saturday allegedly show Michael Brown in a confrontation with a store employee.
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The security camera videotape released Friday by the department showed a confrontation inside the convenience store about 15 minutes before the shooting. The images show a man, identified by the police as Mr. Brown, who appears to be pushing a store clerk.

The police said Mr. Brown, who was in the store with a friend, had stolen a box of Swisher Sweets cigars valued at $48.99. When confronted by the clerk, Mr. Brown “forcefully pushed him back into a display rack” before leaving, a police report said.

Chief Jackson had said that his unwillingness to disclose the name was based on safety concerns after death threats were posted on social media against the officer and his family.

Chief Jackson said Officer Wilson is a four-year veteran of the force who had worked previously at another local department for two years.

The chief described the officer as “a gentle, quiet man” and “a distinguished officer” with no disciplinary issues. “It’s devastating,” he said of Officer Wilson, who is on administrative leave. “He never intended any of this to happen.”

On Friday morning, Gov. Jay Nixon and Capt. Ronald S. Johnson of the Missouri Highway Patrol, an African-American heading the security efforts in Ferguson, tried to defuse the frustration of residents, who turned a news conference into a town-hall-style meeting.

Protesters chant Friday outside of a store that was looted and burned after the shooting death of Michael Brown by police a week ago in Ferguson, Mo. Protesters chant Friday outside of a store that was looted and burned after the shooting death of Michael Brown by police a week ago in Ferguson, Mo.
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Concerns grew Friday that the release of details about the convenience store robbery would stoke more disorder.

Pleading for calm, Captain Johnson said, “In our anger, we have to make sure that we don’t burn down our own house.”

The story resonated with Toledoan Tim Ide, who went to Ferguson to document protests there and join their ranks.

Mr. Ide and his son, Dylan, run Miserable City TV, a film and photography company. In a phone interview, the elder Mr. Ide became emotional about “another dead kid on the ground.”

Mr. Ide said he hoped to bring a message from northwest Ohio about the shooting and police reaction.

“It struck me as something that I feel will be another watershed moment about the militarization of the police,” he said.

Mr. Ide interviewed protesters and took video and pictures to document the pushback against police.

Anger returned to Ferguson on Friday, when Mr. Ide said the release of information by police was “character assassination.”

“Even if this kid stole something, whatever, you can’t gun him down,” he said.



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