Michael Brown, 18, of Missouri was shot dead by a police officer in the town of Ferguson on Saturday. The teen was killed on his way to his grandmother’s house, shot by the officer around 2:15pm. It has not been determined why the officer opened fire on the teen, who was unarmed and had his hands in the air, according to numerous witnesses.
The killing has prompted outrage amongst the community. Residents filled the neighborhood streets, shouting for justice and decrying the violence of the police.
“[The police officer] shot again and once my friend felt that shot, he turned around and put his hands in the air,” said witness Dorian Johnson. “He started to get down and the officer still approached with his weapon drawn and fired several more shots.”
“We’re still trying to piece together what happened and why,” St. Louis County Police spokesman Brian Schellman told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, declaring that there will be a “lengthy investigation.”
“Please don’t shoot me,” chanted residents as they protested Brown’s shooting and chastised the police officers after the incident took place. “Please don’t shoot me.”
According to reports, Louis Head, Brown’s stepfather, held a sign that read, “Ferguson police just executed my unarmed son!!!” Lesley McSpadden, Brown’s mother, was also amongst the protestors.
“I know they killed my son,” the Post-Dispatch reports McSpadden as having told someone in attendance. “This was wrong and it was cold-hearted. [My son] doesn’t kill, steal or rob. He doesn’t do any of that.”
Mourners later gathered for a prayer vigil for Brown and his family. Brown was slated to begin college classes this week, having graduated from Normandy High School this year.
“He was a good kid. He didn’t live around here,” said Brown’s grandmother, Desuirea Harris. “He came to visit me and they did that to him for no reason.”
The case was immediately turned over to the St. Louis County Police, according to Ferguson Police Chief Thomas Jackson. The Post-Dispatch reports that the officer who shot Brown had been placed on paid administrative leave. State Sen. Jamilah Nasheed said she would petition the U.S. Justice Department for a formal investigation on Monday.
“We are hurt to hear that yet another teenaged boy has been slaughtered by law enforcement especially in light of the recent death of Eric Garner in New York who was killed for selling cigarettes,” St. Louis County NAACP President Esther Haywood said in a statement. “We plan to do everything within our power to ensure that the Ferguson Police Department as well as the St. Louis County Police Department releases all details pertinent to the shooting.”
“The City of Ferguson is aware there are strong feelings following the tragic event that occurred on Canfield Drive earlier today,” said Ferguson officials via statement. “The St. Louis County Police Department is conducting an independent investigation of the events. We will provide further information as the investigation continues.”