Ferguson Police: Teen Shot By Cop Was Robbery Suspect; Officer Identity Revealed


UPDATED: Friday August 15, 2014 12:20 PM

CBS NEWS - A suburban St. Louis police chief on Friday identified the officer whose fatal shooting of an unarmed black teenager ignited days of heated protests, and released documents alleging the teen was killed after a robbery in which he was suspected of stealing a $48.99 box of cigars.

Ferguson Police Chief Thomas Jackson released several police reports and documents during a news conference where he also identified the officer involved as Darren Wilson, who has been on administrative leave since the shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown on Aug. 9.

Police previously refused citing concerns over the officer's safety.

4 PHOTOS - Surveillance video of store robbery in Ferguson

According to the police reports, Brown and his friend, Dorian Johnson, were suspected of taking a box of cigars from a store in Ferguson that morning. Jackson said Wilson, along with other officers, was called to the area after a police call reporting a "strong-arm" robbery just before noon. He said a dispatcher gave a description of the robbery suspect, and Wilson, who had been assisting on another call, was sent to investigate.

That strong-arm robbery was caught on video,CBS affiliate KMOV reports. According to the incident report from the robbery, Brown allegedly grabbed a victim and pushed him against shelves in the store.

Wilson, a six-year veteran of the police department, encountered Brown just after 12:01 p.m., with a second officer arriving three minutes later, Jackson said.Wilson was treated for injuries after the shooting, the police chief said.

46 PHOTOS - Civil unrest in Missouri after teen's shooting

Brown's uncle, Bernard Ewing, questioned whether Wilson really believed Brown was a suspect. He noted Johnson's account that the officer told the two young men to get out of the street and onto the sidewalk, and that Brown had his hands up when he was shot.

"If he's a robbery suspect, they would have had the lights on," Ewing said. "If you rob somebody, you would tell them, 'Get on the ground' or something, not, 'Get off the sidewalk.'"

"It still doesn't justify shooting him when he puts his hands up," he added. "You still don't shoot him in the face."

A phone message seeking comment from the family's attorney, Benjamin Crump, wasn't immediately returned.

Play VIDEO - Change in command lowers tension in Ferguson

Brown's death has sparked several days of clashes with furious protesters in the city. The mood was quelled on Thursday, after the governor turned oversight of the protests to the state Highway Patrol. State troopers walking side-by-side with thousands of peaceful protesters replaced the county police in riot gear and armored tanks of previous nights.

But the police chief's announcement Friday was met with immediate disbelief and anger by several dozen community members who also attended the news conference, which was hastily held at a gas station burned during a night of looting earlier in the week in Ferguson, a town of 21,000 that is nearly 70 percent black and patrolled by a nearly all-white police force.

"He stopped the wrong one, bottom line," yelled Tatinisha Wheeler, a nurse's aide who was at the news conference.

A couple dozen protesters began marching around the area and in the street chanting, "Hands up, don't shoot," and, "What do we want? Justice! When do we want it? Now!"

Police have said Brown was shot after an officer encountered him and another man on the street. They say one of the men pushed the officer into his squad car, then physically assaulted him in the vehicle and struggled with the officer over the officer's weapon. At least one shot was fired inside the car before the struggle spilled onto the street, where Brown was shot multiple times, according to police.

Dorian Johnson has told media very different story. He has said he and Brown were walking in the street when an officer ordered them out of the street, then grabbed his friend's neck and tried to pull him into the car before brandishing his weapon and firing. He said Brown started to run and the officer pursued him, firing multiple times.

Tensions boiled over after a candlelight vigil Sunday night, as looters smashed and burned businesses in the neighborhood, where police have repeatedly fired tear gas and smoke bombs.

But on Thursday, county police in riot gear and armored tanks gave way to state troopers walking side-by-side with thousands of peaceful protesters. The dramatic shift came after Gov. Jay Nixon assigned oversight of the protests to the state Highway Patrol, stripping that authority from the St. Louis County Police Department.

"All they did was look at us and shoot tear gas," Pedro Smith, who has participated in the nightly protests, said Thursday. "This is totally different. Now we're being treated with respect."

Play VIDEO - Obama appeals for "peace and calm" in Ferguson, Missouri

The more tolerant response came as President Barack Obama spoke publicly for the first time about the shooting - and the subsequent violence that shocked the nation and threatened to tear apart Ferguson, a town of 21,000 that is nearly 70 percent black and patrolled by a nearly all-white police force.

Obama said there was "no excuse" for violence either against the police or by officers against peaceful protesters.

Nixon's promise to ease the deep racial tensions was swiftly put to the test as demonstrators gathered again Thursday evening. But the latest protests had a light, almost jubilant atmosphere among the racially mixed crowd, more akin to a parade or block party.

13 PHOTOS - Tensions ease in Missouri protests

The streets were filled with music, free food and even laughter. When darkness fell - the point at which previous protests have grown tense - no uniformed officers were in sight outside the burned-out QuikTrip convenience store that had become a flashpoint for standoffs between police and protesters.

"You can feel it. You can see it," protester Cleo Willis said of the change Thursday. "Now it's up to us to ride that feeling."

Nixon appointed Highway Patrol Capt. Ron Johnson, who is black, to lead the police effort. Johnson, who grew up near Ferguson and commands a region that includes St. Louis County, marched alongside protesters Thursday, joined by other high-ranking brass from the Highway Patrol as well as the county department. The marchers also had a police escort.

"We're here to serve and protect," Johnson said. "We're not here to instill fear."

Attorney General Eric Holder has said federal investigators have interviewed witnesses to the shooting.

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