Captain Ron Johnson of the Missouri Highway Patrol
addresses the media following an announcement that officer
Darren Wilson had been involved in the shooting of Michael
Brown. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson
Minutes before a police officer shot him dead, Michael
Brown had become a suspect in the theft of cigars from a store,
according to police reports released after days of protests in
a St. Louis suburb over the unarmed black teenager's death.
But the officer who shot Brown was unaware that the
18-year-old was a suspect in the robbery of the nearby
convenience store, Ferguson Police Chief Tom Jackson said at
a news conference.
Rather, Officer Darren Wilson, 28, shot and killed Michael
Brown after he asked Brown to move out of the street on to a
sidewalk, Jackson said.
"He was walking down the middle of the street blocking
traffic. That was it," Jackson said.
The decision by the police department, which is
overwhelmingly white, to release a report on the robbery
while keeping details of the shooting secret fuelled outrage
that has roiled the St. Louis area.
After identifying Wilson as the officer involved in the
shooting, Jackson described the officer as a "gentleman" who
is devastated over the situation. Wilson worked four of his
six years as an officer on the Ferguson police force, the
"He never intended for any of this to happen," Jackson said.
Wilson's identify has been kept a secret since the August 9
shooting and authorities had been under mounting pressure to
both identify the officer and to provide details about the
investigation to ease unrest in the largely black community.
Since Saturday's killing, which took place shortly after noon
on a street running through a quiet, tree-lined residential
neighborhood, protesters have converged on Ferguson, casting
a spotlight on area racial tensions.
Civil rights groups have complained that Brown's death is the
latest in a long history of racial profiling and harassment
by police, and discriminatory arrests.
Some residents saw the police report on the robbery as the
latest example of the pattern.
"This is how the police operate here, they always defame the
name of the victim," said area resident 39-year-old Arthur
Austin. "The more I hear, the less I trust what the police
The Rev. Al Sharpton, president of the civil rights group
National Action Network, which is paying for Brown's funeral,
issued a statement on Friday condemning what he called a
"smear campaign" against Brown.
Sharpton said he would lead a rally in Ferguson on Sunday
with Brown's family, who expressed outrage at the police
report in a statement on Twitter but did not address the
"There is nothing based on the facts that have been placed
before us that can justify the execution-style murder of
their child by this police officer as he held his hands up,
which is the universal sign of surrender," the statement
According to the account given by Jackson and the police
reports his department released, police received a call about
a robbery of cigars from a convenience store and an ensuing
altercation with a clerk at 11:51 a.m. on Aug. 9. A suspect
description went out over police radio.
Officer Wilson left a prior call he was on and then
encountered Brown at 12:01 p.m. Three minutes later Wilson
had fatally shot Brown, and other officers and an ambulance
were dispatched to the scene, Jackson said.
Police incident reports written some time after the robbery
state that Brown, and a 22-year-old friend, Dorian Johnson,
were both suspects in the robbery. Johnson, who has given his
own accounts of the shooting but has made no public mention
of a robbery, was with Brown when he was killed.
The police chief said later on Friday that Johnson was not
complicit in any crime.
The police version that has thus far been provided of Brown's
shooting differs markedly from witness accounts, including
that of his friend Johnson.
In their earlier account, police said Brown reached into the
patrol car and struggled with Wilson before the officer
pulled his service gun and shot Brown multiple times. Wilson
sustained a facial injury, which was treated in a hospital,
But Johnson and one other witness have said that Brown was
trying to get away from the officer, who tried to grab him
after telling him to move off the street and onto a sidewalk.
Brown held up his hands in a sign of surrender but was shot
several times, they said.
Police have acknowledged that Brown's body was more than 30
feet away (nine meters) from the police car when he collapsed
and died and that multiple shell casings were found at the
The name of the robbed convenience store was redacted by
police, although a street name listed and security-camera
footage of the store were released. A clerk at a store on
that street that closely resembled the one seen in the video
images said he knew nothing about the robbery. All three
employees who were on duty last Saturday were away for the
next two weeks, he said, declining to give his name.
Anger over the shooting brought thousands of protesters into
the streets of Ferguson, and triggered nightly clashes from
Sunday through Wednesday with police officers in riot gear.
But there was a marked shift Thursday to a calmer tone after
the governor put Ron Johnson, an African-American Missouri
Highway Patrol captain, in charge of security.
Under his direction, roadblocks were lifted, and instead of
using tear gas and intimidation, Johnson's teams walked the
streets to talk with protesters and listen to their concerns.
"Last night was a great night," he said. "People were talking
... getting their voice out."