The FBI is opening an investigation into the shooting of unarmed Missouri teenager Mike Brown by a police officer in suburban St. Louis, officials said on Monday.
“The FBI notified me that they will be opening up a investigation that will run parallel to this investigation,” St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar said at a news conference.
Belmar said he had spoke to St. Louis Division Special Agent in Charge William Woods who "said he had a tremendous amount of confidence in the St. Louis county police department, but at this point he felt the need to open up an investigation.”
The local NCAAP and other community leaders had asked federal officials to get involved in racial charged shooting.
Brown, 18, was shot “more than just a couple of times” by an officer in Ferguson, Missouri, on Saturday just after noon, officials have said. Belmar said the fatal shooting occurred following a “physical confrontation” that started inside a police car and spilled onto the street.
On Sunday night, tensions in the community erupted from angry protests to violent riots and looting. Overnight, 32 people were arrested in connection with looting at 12 stores — including one which was nearly burned to the ground, police said. Some 300 officers from 19 jurisdictions responded to the mayhem, and two officers suffered minor injuries, officials said. One officer was hit by a brick and another suffered a knee injury, according to NBC News' St. Louis affiliate KSDK.
Belmar said the FBI's investigation would run “concurrent” to his — which came at the request of the Ferguson Police Department.
"The Bureau will take a lot of the information that we have developed already, they’ll take that information, they may do their own interviews, they may look at the evidence themselves — it’s a parallel or a concurrent investigation," said Belmar.
Special Agent Cheryl Mimura, a spokeswoman for the FBI's St. Louis office, said they have been keeping an eye on the case since since the beginning.
"We've been reviewing the matter (since Saturday), today we officially opened an investigation into a potential civil rights violation," she said, noting that the decision was not motivated by community outrage. "Regardless of the media attention or the public’s attention to this matter, this is something that we would routinely do."
The officer who shot Brown has been placed on paid administrative leave. Chief Thomas Jackson with the Ferguson Police Department told NBC affiliate station NewsChannel 5 that the officer's name will be released by Noon during a Tuesday news conference.
— Hasani Gittens
First published August 11 2014, 9:47 AM