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Police chief names officer who fatally shot Missouri teen

Updated: Friday, August 15 2014, 07:01 PM CDT

FERGUSON, Missouri (CBS News) - The police officer who fatally shot unarmed teen Michael Brown, prompting days of unrest in Ferguson, Missouri and rallies nationwide, has been identified as Darren Wilson.


Ferguson Police Chief Thomas Jackson made the announcement after initially declining to the release the name,
saying the officer had received numerous death threats. The officer has
been on administrative leave since the shooting Saturday of 18-year-old
Michael Brown, whose death has sparked several days of clashes with
furious protesters.




But he said that a dispatcher gave a description of the robbery
suspect, and Wilson, who had been assisting on another call, was sent to
investigate. 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.


Wilson was treated for injuries after the shooting, Jackson said.


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.


Witnesses have said the officer fired on Brown as he tried to run away.


The shooting prompted nearly a week of clashes between protesters and
county police in riot gear and armored. The atmosphere shifted
dramatically Thursday night after Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon assigned
oversight of the protests to the state Highway Patrol, stripping local
police from the St. Louis County Police Department of their authority.


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




The more tolerant response came as President Barack Obama spoke publicly for the first time about Saturday's fatal 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 in the
neighborhood where looters had smashed and burned businesses on Sunday
and where police had repeatedly fired tear gas and smoke bombs.


But the latest protests had a light, almost jubilant atmosphere
among the racially mixed crowd, more akin to a parade or block party.
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. "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."


Residents in Ferguson have complained about the police response that
began soon after Brown's shooting with the use of dogs for crowd control
- a tactic that for some evoked civil-rights protests from a
half-century ago. The county police had taken over the investigation of
Brown's shooting and security at the request of the smaller city.


Nixon vowed that "Ferguson will not be defined as a community that
was torn apart by violence but will be known as a community that pulled
together to overcome it." The governor was joined at a news conference
by the white mayor of St. Louis and the region's four state
representatives and the county executive, all of whom are black.




The city and county remain under criticism, though, for refusing to
release the name of the officer who shot Brown, citing threats against
that officer and others. The hacker group Anonymous on Thursday released
a name purported to be that of the officer, but the Ferguson police
chief said the name was incorrect.


Like last year's Trayvon Martin shooting, social media brought
international attention to the tragedy. Ferguson spawned a proliferation
of hashtags and has been a dominant subject on Twitter, Facebook and
other sites. Journalists and protesters offered real-time pictures,
videos and updates, and the world responded.


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. The struggle then spilled onto the street,
where Brown was shot multiple times.


Dorian Johnson, who says he was with Brown, has told a much different
story. He has said the 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 says Brown started to run and the
officer pursued him, firing multiple times.


Attorney General Eric Holder has said federal investigators have interviewed witnesses
to the shooting. A person familiar with the matter, who spoke on
condition of anonymity because the investigation is ongoing, said
federal authorities have interviewed Johnson. Holder spoke by telephone
Thursday with Brown's family.


In St. Louis, Brown's mother appeared briefly Thursday night at an
anti-brutality gathering near the city's Gateway Arch, urging through a
relative for peace to prevail. The observance was among many staged
nationwide, each with a minute of silence for Brown and others affected
by alleged police brutality.

Police chief names officer who fatally shot Missouri teen


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