The unarmed black teen whose fatal shooting by police in a St. Louis suburb sparked violent protests was a suspect in a robbery moments before, but the deadly encounter was not sparked by the robbery, the city’s police chief said Friday.
Ferguson Police Chief Thomas Jackson earlier Friday released documents alleging 18-year-old Michael Brown had been suspected of stealing a $48.99 box of cigars from a convenience store in a “strong-arm” robbery shortly before he was killed.
Jackson said at an afternoon press conference that Brown and his friend were stopped Saturday “because they were walking down the middle of the street blocking traffic.”
The robbery “was not related to the initial contact” between the officer and Brown, he said.
Jackson said the officer involved in the shooting — identified as Darren Wilson — had gone to the area after a 911 call reporting the robbery. He says a dispatcher gave a description of the suspect, and that Wilson encountered Brown a few minutes before another officer arrived.
The announcement was met with anger by community members who insisted Brown wasn’t the man seen in a security camera video of the robbery.
“I am incensed,” Laura Keys, 50, told The St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “I can’t believe this is the tactic they are using, bringing up a robbery to make the victim look like he was the person who created this whole mess.”
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