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Dozens of officers injured during protest in Memphis after task force kills man

Most of the injuries to law enforcement officers were minor. Police said some in a crowd protesting the shooting turned violent.
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Several law enforcement officers in Memphis were injured during a protest that began after federal authorities killed a man they were attempting to arrest Wednesday, officials said.

A driver wanted on multiple felony warrants attempted to ram law enforcement vehicles when officers with a regional U.S. Marshals Service fugitive task force attempted to arrest him in Memphis' Frayser community at about 7 p.m., Tennessee Bureau of Investigation spokeswoman Keli McAlister said.

The man then got out of the vehicle with a weapon, according to McAlister.

"The officers fired, striking and killing the individual," she said. No officers were injured in the incident, she said.

The man was later identified as Brandon Webber, 20, state law enforcement officials told NBC affiliate WMC-TV.

After the shooting, a crowd gathered to protest.

Some threw rocks and other objects at Memphis police officers, who had no role in the shooting of Webber but came to assist. Three people were arrested in the violence, police said.

Image: Police retreat under a cloud of tear gas as protesters disperse from the scene of a standoff after Frayser community residents took to the streets in anger against the shooting of a youth by U.S. Marshals
Police retreat under a cloud of tear gas as protesters disperse from the scene of a standoff Wednesday in Memphis. Jim Weber / AP

Around 25 officers among all agencies that responded were injured, Memphis Police Director Michael Rallings said. Most of the injuries were minor.

“The officers did an enormous job tonight showing restraint in a very volatile situation,” Rallings said.

Officers had to don protective gear as the crowd threw objects, and a “chemical agent” was used to disperse the crowd, according to Rallings.

Six of the injured officers were taken to the hospital, and at least two journalists were also hurt, according to a statement from Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland.

Brandon D. Webber
Brandon D. Webbervia Facebook

Police cars were vandalized and windows were broken at a fire station, according to the mayor.

“Let me be clear — the aggression shown toward our officers and deputies tonight was unwarranted,” Strickland said in the statement.

The shooting involved officers with the United States Marshals Service's Gulf Coast Regional Fugitive Task Force, according to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, which is investigating.

Officers were seen in riot gear, and video of the scene showed a police car with a broken window, WMC-TV reported.

Image: A Memphis police officer looks over a damaged squad car after protesters took to the streets of the Frayser community in anger against the shooting a youth by U.S. Marshals earlier in the evening
A police officer looks over a damaged squad car after protests follwed a shooting by U.S. Marshals in Memphis on Wednesday evening. Mark Weber / AP

Some in the crowd dispersed amid rain around 10 p.m., The Commercial Appeal newspaper of Memphis reported.

Shelby County Commissioner Tami Sawyer said that about 300 people joined to protest the shooting.

"Every life lost should matter ... every single one. How many times will this be ok? It cannot continue to be," she tweeted after going to Frayser in northern Memphis.

The police chief recognized those in the community who attempted to defuse the situation.

"I do want to commend individuals that did not decide to commit acts of violence toward the police officers, that showed restraint — I know that there were many individuals in the crowd that tried to assist in keeping everyone calm," Rallings said.

"My message tonight is that, is we should all wait and make sure we know exactly what happened before we spread misinformation or we jump to conclusions," he said. He said the police department has been supportive of protests "but we will not allow any acts of violence, we will not allow destruction of property."