FERGUSON, Mo. — Late-night protests over the shooting death of Michael Brown dispersed after bottles flew at officers, who answered with tear gas, police said Wednesday.
Protesters gathered in the St. Louis suburb for a fourth day and shouted at police officers.
“Don’t shoot!” they said, holding up signs protesting Brown’s killing. “No justice, no peace!”
Blocks away from where the protests took place, there were two shootings. But police do not believe the violence was related to the protests.A woman suffered a nonfatal wound to the head in a drive-by shooting, said St. Louis County Police spokesman Brian Schellman.
In a second incident, early Wednesday, police responded to calls about masked suspects brandishing shotguns, KSDK reported, citing Schellman.
One of them pulled a handgun on an officer, who shot the suspect. The suspect is in hospital in critical condition, KSDK reported.
Officer’s name not released
Police know who shot Brown on Saturday, but days after the 18-year-old’s death, they’re not saying.
Releasing the name of the officer isn’t as important, they say, as protecting the community and the person who pulled the trigger.
“We started getting death threats against him and his family, and although that’s not most of the people, we took these things seriously,” Ferguson police chief Thomas Jackson said.
Lawyers representing Brown’s family blasted the decision, suggesting authorities were protecting one of their own rather than following standard procedures.
“That doesn’t give the community confidence. That doesn’t make it transparent,” attorney Benjamin Crump told reporters. “And remember, we’ve got a long way to go before this community starts to believe that the police are going to give them all the answers and not try to sweep it under the rug.”
Police should have released the officer’s name 72 hours after the shooting, he said. If police are going to ask residents of Ferguson to obey the law, he said, “then it’s got to work both ways.”
Jackson said his office doesn’t know yet when it will release the name, but it isn’t skirting any laws.
“The prosecuting attorney and the St. Louis County police chief agree that this is the prudent step to take under the circumstances,” he said.
Witness: I haven’t spoken with police
What led up to Brown’s death Saturday is a point of major contention.
Witnesses say the African-American teen was unarmed and his hands were in the air demonstrating that. Police have said that Brown attacked the officer in his car and tried to take his gun.
As federal civil rights investigators and the FBI carry out their own inquiry into the controversial case, tensions are running high in the town of 21,000 — where there’s a history of distrust between the predominately black community and the largely white police force.
Dorian Johnson, who said he saw the shooting, said Tuesday that the officer who opened fire is white.
Johnson said he was walking with Brown in the street when the confrontation erupted.
But police didn’t speak to him about the shooting that day — and still haven’t, Johnson said, adding that the officer seemed stunned afterward.
“It’s almost like he wasn’t paying attention to me anymore. It’s like he was in shock himself, and his vision wasn’t on anything but my friend Big Mike,” he said.
Johnson’s attorney said police reached out to him on Tuesday to set up an interview, but they haven’t had a chance to talk yet.
Amid protests, calls for calm
The promise of investigations by local and federal authorities hasn’t stemmed outrage in the community.
A vigil for the teen devolved into violent clashes with police Sunday as some looted stores. On Monday night, there was chaos again on the streets. Shots were fired, authorities said, and police used tear gas to disperse a crowd.
Police have made 47 arrests in the aftermath of Brown’s shooting, KMOV reported.
At a press conference with other African-American leaders Tuesday, the Rev. Al Sharpton urged people in Ferguson not to “betray the gentle giant” that Brown was by allowing their anger over his killing to lead to violence.
Michael Brown Sr., the teen’s father, renewed calls for people to steer clear of violence.
“I need all of us to come together and do this right, the right way, so we can get something done about this,” he said.
U.S. President Barack Obama echoed calls for calm, releasing a statement expressing condolences to the teen’s family and describing his death as heartbreaking.
“As details unfold, I urge everyone in Ferguson, Missouri, and across the country, to remember this young man through reflection and understanding,” Obama said. “We should comfort each other and talk with one another in a way that heals, not in a way that wounds.”
College-bound teen sought a better life
Brown was going to defy negative stereotypes, staying away from the street life that plagued many African-American young men by instead going to college, his mother said.
“People may do things and it becomes repetitive in a certain race, but we didn’t. We don’t live like that. Not our family,” his mother, Lesley McSpadden, said.
“We feel like we can do anything and go anywhere. … Just because my son is a 6’4″ black male walking down a city street does not mean he fit the profile for anything other than just walking down the street.”