Guide to developments in Missouri police shooting

08/19/2014 7:08 AM

08/19/2014 7:08 AM

FERGUSON, Mo. – Protesters have gathered daily, with some crowds turning violent, since a police officer fatally shot 18-year-old Michael Brown on Aug. 9 in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson. Here’s a look at key elements of the shooting and the unrest that followed:

THE LATEST: The National Guard arrived in Ferguson on Monday but kept its distance from the streets where protesters clashed again with police. Despite the lifting of a curfew, authorities told protesters they couldn’t assemble in a single spot and had to keep moving. Police said officers were the target of heavy gunfire and Molotov cocktails thrown from the crowd. At least two people were shot and 31 arrested.

THE SHOOTING: Police have said the officer was pushed into his squad car, then physically assaulted during a struggle over his weapon. At least one shot was fired inside the car. The struggle then spilled onto the street, where Brown was shot multiple times. Brown was unarmed.

But his friend, Dorian Johnson, told reporters that the officer ordered him and Brown out of the street, then tried to open his door so close to the pair that it “ricocheted” back, apparently upsetting the officer. Johnson said the officer grabbed Brown’s neck and tried to pull him into the car before brandishing his weapon. He said Brown started to run and the officer pursued him, firing multiple times. Johnson and another witness said Brown had his hands raised when the officer fired.

THE UNREST: Protesters have gathered nightly since Brown’s death, with some of the demonstrations resulting in looting and property damage. Police have used tear gas and smoke bombs, and some people have hurled rocks and bottles at officers. The protesters often chant, “Hands up, don’t shoot.”

Along with calling in the National Guard, the governor has put Missouri State Highway Patrol Capt. Ron Johnson, who is from the Ferguson area, in charge of overseeing the protests.

THE POLICE TACTICS: The initial police response drew heavy criticism from around the nation. Critics said it was part of a law-enforcement trend toward more aggressive weapons and tactics. The American Civil Liberties Union in June released a report stating that police were overwhelmingly relying on SWAT raids – involving the use of assault rifles, battering rams and flash-bang grenades – for routine work such as searching for small amounts of drugs and serving warrants.

THE INVESTIGATION: At the request of Ferguson police, Brown’s death is being investigated by St. Louis County police. The FBI also has opened an investigation into possible civil rights violations. According to the Highway Patrol, 40 FBI agents started going door-to-door in the neighborhood on Saturday, talking to people who might have seen or have information about the shooting.

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