FERGUSON, Mo. (AP) — The police chief in the St. Louis suburb where an officer fatally shot an unarmed teenager identified the officer on Friday as Darren Wilson, and said the officer was dispatched to the area after a reported robbery.
Ferguson Police Chief Thomas Jackson made the announcement after initially declining to the release the officer’s name, saying he 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 in the city.
Jackson said Wilson, along with other officers, were called to the area after a 911 call reporting a “strong-arm” robbery just before noon Saturday at a convenience store. He did not say if Brown was a suspect in that robbery and refused to answer any questions, saying he would release more information later Friday.
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.
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.
Tensions in the Ferguson 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.