On a day that saw mostly peaceful demonstrations to honor Michael Brown, who was killed in a shooting incident last year on August 9, the city of Ferguson, Missouri, saw the day end with another police-involved shooting of a teenager. However, unlike the shooting of Michael Brown, who was unarmed at the time, the suspect in Sunday night’s incident was allegedly armed and shooting at police.
Agence France Presse reported (via Yahoo News) August 10 that the news agency captured video footage of “a black man lying facedown in handcuffs, bleeding profusely.” Plainclothes detectives had pursued the young man after witnessing him running with a gun after “a remarkable amount of gunfire” was heard being exchanged between what was described as “rival groups.” (Police later noted that as many as 50 shots were fired in the initial exchange between the groups.) The man then fired at the detectives, who were riding in a police van.
St. Louis County Police Chief Belmar told reporters that the van had been struck by bullets and the detectives had returned fire before pursuing the suspect on foot. Detectives fired on the suspect again, hitting him. “All four fired at the suspect and the suspect fell,” Chief Belmar said. He added that the man was in “critical, unstable condition” and in surgery as he spoke.
All for of the detectives involved in the shooting had from six to 12 years of experience. All were placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of the mandatory investigation following any police-involved shooting incident.
Chief Belmar insisted that those who started the shooting were not protesters demonstrating in honor of Michael Brown but were instead “criminals.” “There is a small group of people out there that are intent on making sure that we don’t have peace that prevails,” he added.
The Michael Brown shooting incident became the center of a national focusing on police brutality and excessive use of force by predominantly white police agencies against the black community at large last year. Brown, an unarmed black teen, was shot and killed by white Ferguson Police officer Darren Wilson. Although there were many witnesses to the shooting, the details remain clouded as to what exactly occurred, but a grand jury refused to criminally indict Wilson. A Justice Department investigation followed suit, but did found fault in the manner in which the Ferguson Police Department conducted business, leading to widespread reforms in the organization. Officer Wilson and the police chief both resigned from the city’s force in wake of the shooting.
News of the Sunday night shooting quickly spread to demonstrators on the streets of Ferguson. The presence of law enforcement increased. Tension mounted. “Police and protesters faced off in a tense standoff on West Florissant Avenue, not far from Canfield Drive, where Brown was shot,” CNN reported.
Objects would later be thrown at police. Three policeman would be injured during the standoff, one taking a brick to the face. Still, come early Monday morning, the crowd was dispersed with the aid of smoke bombs.
Demonstrations are planned for Monday as well. It is as yet unclear just how peaceful they might be, but time and knowledge of Sunday night’s incident could produce a calming effect on those angered at the thought of even more police violence committed against the black community. At the same time, the history of poor relations between Ferguson police and local law enforcement could provide another tense confrontation between police and demonstrators.