Officer Kills Ferguson Teen | Facing History & Ourselves

Officer Kills Ferguson Teen

A St. Louis Post-Dispatch article summarizes what was known in the first 24 hours after Michael Brown was killed in Ferguson, Mo.
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Ferguson Day One Wrap-Up: Officer Kills Ferguson Teen

St. Louis Post-Dispatch

By Leah Thorsen and Steve Giegerich

August 10, 2014

FERGUSON: The fatal shooting of a teen Saturday afternoon by a Ferguson police officer outside an apartment complex sent angry residents into the street, taunting police and firing shots.

Michael Brown, 18, was shot just after noon in the 2900 block of Canfield Drive.

His mother, Lesley McSpadden, said the shooting took place as her son was walking to his grandmother’s residence.

Piaget Crenshaw, 19, said she was waiting for a ride to work when she saw a police officer attempting to place Brown in the squad car.

She then said she saw the teen, hands in the air, attempt to flee. Several shots hit Brown as he ran, Crenshaw said. She complied with a request that she give photos of the scene to authorities.

Brown, a 2014 Normandy High School graduate, was scheduled to begin classes at Vatterott College on Monday.

The shooting sparked a furious backlash.

Further shots were heard as police arrived immediately after the shooting but no one was injured as angry residents screamed obscenities mixed with threats to “kill the police.” More than 60 area police officers responded to the scene.

Louis Head, Brown’s stepfather, held a sign that said: “Ferguson police just executed my unarmed son!!!”

Tension flared off and on through the evening. A calm settled over the area after mourners gathered at a prayer circle — watched over by a St. Louis County police officer sitting atop a SWAT vehicle — and then a candlelight vigil as darkness fell.

The acrimony briefly resurfaced about 8:30 p.m. as demonstrators again swarmed the street chanting, “We Are Michael Brown” as wary police officers stood nearby with assault rifles.

At one point, residents held up their hands, saying, “Don’t shoot me!” as police officers with barking dogs tried to keep order.

Approximately 100 protesters then went to the street outside Ferguson police headquarters and chanted, “No Justice! No Peace!”

McSpadden appeared at the shooting scene sporadically, comforted by friends and neighbors.

“I know they killed my son,” McSpadden was heard telling an acquaintance. “This was wrong and it was cold-hearted.”

Her son, she continued, “doesn’t kill, steal or rob. He doesn’t do any of that.”

Ferguson Police Chief Thomas Jackson said his department immediately turned the matter over to the St. Louis County police.

He declined to comment on what had led to the shooting or any other details.

“We are hoping for calm and for people to give us a chance to conduct a thorough investigation,” Jackson said.

County police spokesman Brian Schellman promised a “lengthy investigation.”

“We’re still trying to piece together what happened and why,” Schellman said.

The unnamed officer has been placed on paid administrative leave.

The shooting sparked a furor on social media, with commenters expressing outrage over the killing.

As the afternoon wore on, activists, public figures and others arrived on the scene to urge calm.

State Sen. Jamilah Nasheed, D-St. Louis, said she would petition the U.S. Justice Department on Monday for a formal investigation.

The St. Louis County NAACP is also asking that the FBI investigate.

Nasheed said she would additionally request that St. Louis County Prosecutor Robert McCulloch look into what she termed the shooting of an “unarmed citizen.”

Ferguson Mayor James Knowles III said the city was in mourning.

“It’s a tragedy whenever a young person loses his life,” the mayor said as he urged residents to remain calm and “have faith in the process.”

A protest rally is scheduled for Monday morning in front of the Ferguson police station.

County police are to hold a press conference Sunday morning.

David Carson, Huy Mach and Denise Hollinshed of the Post-Dispatch contributed to this report.

This story has been updated to correct the time of the shooting.

Reproduced with permission from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

How to Cite This Reading

Facing History & Ourselves, “Officer Kills Ferguson Teen,” last updated April 28, 2022. 

This reading contains text not authored by Facing History & Ourselves. See footnotes for source information.

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