A St. Louis, Missouri suburb is in turmoil and calling into question our nation's police brutality problem following the killing 18-year-old Michael Brown by police on Saturday.
The inciting incident happened Saturday afternoon in Ferguson, Missouri — a predominately black suburb just north of St. Louis. Brown, according to his grandmother Desiree Harris, had been running in her neighborhood just prior to when he was shot. Immediately after passing Brown in her car, Harris returned to her home and, following an unknown noise outside, discovered Brown's body less than two blocks away. When Harris asked police what occurred, she reportedly received no response.
"He was running this way," Harris explained in an interview with the Associated Press. "When I got up there, my grandson was lying on the pavement. I asked the police what happened. They didn't tell me nothing."
Shortly thereafter a crowd began to amass, sharing photos on social media, spreading flower petals, and questioning the police's motives for shooting Brown. Louis Head, identified as Brown's step-father, held a sign up that read "Ferguson police just executed my unarmed son!!!"
The Post Dispatch also reported that Lesley McSpadden, identified as the victim's mother was heard saying: "I know they killed my son... This was wrong and it was cold-hearted." In response, local police sent 60 officers and ultimately had over 100 police cars from 15 different departments brought in to deal with the crowd that was reportedly shouting "kill the police!" during the multi-hour confrontation that went well into the night and turned into a vigil and prayer circle for Brown and his family.
According to new reports, local police have stated that a fight between the victim and an officer escalated quickly and incited the shooting, reports Reuters.
With a severe lack of information coming from the police's side of things, a St. Louis County chapter of the NAACP has called for the FBI to investigate the shooting. And it is no surprise, given the recent flurry of police brutality throughout the country, causing many to proclaim it a full-out national crisis.
Ferguson's Police Chief, Thomas Jackson, told the St.Louis Post-Dispatch that his department turned the matter over to St. Louis County police and that the officer involved was placed on paid administrative leave. He declined to comment on the details of the shooting and what led to the incident itself.
"We are hoping for calm and for people to give us a chance to conduct a thorough investigation," explained Jackson.
During a press conference held by St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar, reporters were told that "It is our understanding at this point in the investigation, that within the police car, there was a struggle over the officer's weapon."
Given the innocuous nature of Brown's circumstances at the time of the shooting, it is no surprise the reaction the incident has received. According to Harris, her grandson had only just graduated high school and was hopeful to attend college in the future.
"My grandson never even got into a fight," she explained. "He was just looking forward to getting on with his life. He was on his way."