Michael Brown: Police say officer who shot him didn't know he was a robbery suspect

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Ferguson police on Friday identified the officer whose fatal shooting of an unarmed black teenager ignited days of heated protests, at the same time releasing documents alleging the teen was killed after a robbery in which he was suspected of stealing a $48.99 box of cigars. The family's attorney responded by saying authorities were "trying to assassinate his character."

Updates

Update 12:22 p.m. Officer who shot Brown didn't know he was a suspect, chief says

Police Chief Thomas Jackson said the officer did not know the teen was a robbery suspect at the time of the shooting and stopped Michael Brown and a companion "because they were walking down the middle of the street blocking traffic."

AP

Update 9:53 a.m.: Family responds to police report

The attorney for the family of an unarmed teenager fatally shot by a police officer in a St. Louis suburb says police are trying to assassinate the victim's character by saying he committed a robbery that day.

Ferguson Police Chief Thomas Jackson on Friday identified Darren Wilson as the officer who shot 18-year-old Michael Brown last Saturday.

Jackson at the same time released documents saying Brown was suspected of stealing a box of cigars shortly before he was killed.

The attorney, Benjamin Crump, says Brown's parents are "incensed" by what he calls "the old game of smoke and mirrors." He says the family was blind-sided by Friday's announcement.

Crump says "it's bad enough they assassinated him, and now they're trying to assassinate his character."

Update 8:05 a.m.: Police say teen was suspect in robbery

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.

Huffington Post reporter Ryan J. Reilly shared images of the documents via Twitter:

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According to the police reports, Brown and his friend, Dorian Johnson, were suspected of taking a box of cigars from a store inFerguson that morning. Jackson said Wilson, along with other officers, was called to the area after a 911 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.

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.

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.

"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!"

6:59 a.m.: Police ID officer who shot Michael Brown

The police chief in the St. Louis suburb where an officer fatally shot an unarmed teenager identified the officer on Friday 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 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."

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.

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.

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.

But a much different story has been told by Dorian Johnson, who says he was walking down the street with Brown when he was shot. 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.

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.

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 Ferguson.

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.

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

Associated Press writers Jim Salter and Jim Suhr in St. Louis, Eric Tucker in Washington and Hillel Italie in New York, and AP researcher Rhonda Shafner, also in New York, contributed to this report.

This story has been updated.

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