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Missouri shooting: Governor criticises police

Police fire tear gas at demonstrators protesting at the shooting of Michael Brown. Picture: Getty

Police fire tear gas at demonstrators protesting at the shooting of Michael Brown. Picture: Getty

  • by DAVID A LIEB AND JIM SALTER
 

Missouri governor Jay Nixon has criticised police for releasing CCTV footage which apparently shows shooting victim Michael Brown stealing.

He said the release of the footage nearly a week after a policeman shot 18-year-old Mr Brown in Ferguson, St Louis, “appeared to cast aspersions” on the dead man. “It made emotions raw,” Mr Nixon said yesterday.

Last night US Attorney General Eric Holder has ordered a federal post-mortem on the black teenager’s body.

Riot police used tear gas and smoke bombs to disperse protesters overnight as they defied a curfew in Ferguson. The curfew is being extended for a second day, beginning at midnight (5am GMT Monday) and running for five hours.

The protests have been going on since Mr Brown was shot and killed on 9 August by a white Ferguson officer, Darren Wilson. The death heightened racial tensions between the predominantly black community and mostly white Ferguson Police Department, leading to run-ins between police and protesters and prompting Missouri’s governor to put the Highway Patrol in charge of security.

The Ferguson Police Department waited six days to publicly reveal the name of the officer and documents alleging Brown robbed a convenience store before he was killed, though Ferguson Police Chief Thomas Jackson said Mr Wilson did not know Mr Brown was a suspect when he encountered him walking in the street with a friend.

Mr Nixon, who declared a state of emergency in Ferguson on Saturday after protests turned violent the night before, said that he was not aware the police were going to release the surveillance video.

“It appeared to cast aspersions on a young man that was gunned down in the street,” he said.

In announcing the curfew, Mr Nixon said that though many protesters were making themselves heard peacefully, the state would not allow looters to endanger the community.

“We must first have and maintain peace,” Mr Nixon said during a news conference that was interrupted repeatedly by people objecting to the curfew and demanding Mr Wilson be charged with murder.

Meanwhile, Mr Nixon said the US Department of Justice was beefing up its civil rights investigation of the shooting, with 40 FBI agents going door-to-door in the neighbourhood gathering information about the shooting.

Mr Jackson said earlier on Saturday that police would not enforce the curfew with armoured trucks and tear gas but would communicate with protesters. Officers faced strong criticism earlier in the week for their use of tear gas and rubber bullets.

But as the curfew deadline arrived yesterday, the remaining protesters refused to leave as officers spoke through a loudspeaker: “You are in violation of a state-imposed curfew. You must disperse immediately.”

As officers put on gas masks, the crowd chanted: “We have 
the right to assemble peacefully.”

A moment later, police began firing canisters into the crowd. Highway Patrol Spokesman Lt John Hotz initially said police only used smoke, but later said they also used tear gas canisters. “We’re trying to give them every opportunity to comply with the curfew,” Hotz said.

Some residents said it appeared the violent acts were committed by people from other areas. Rebecca McCloud, who works with the Sonshine Baptist Church, St. Louis, said: “These people aren’t from here. They came to burn our city and leave.”

Wilson, the officer who shot Brown had no previous complaints against him. He has been on paid leave since the shooting. St. Louis County prosecutor Bob McCulloch said it could be weeks before the investigation concludes.

 

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