The police officer who shot unarmed teenager Michael Brown to death in Ferguson, Missouri, did not know that Brown was a suspect in the robbery of a convenience store minutes earlier, the police chief said Friday.
Police Chief Thomas Jackson said that Brown and a friend were stopped “because they were walking down the middle of the street blocking traffic.”
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Earlier in the day, police identified the officer who killed Brown as Darren Wilson, 28. They also released surveillance footage of the convenience store robbery, in which Brown was suspected of stealing a box of cigars and assaulting a clerk.
Brown’s family released a statement denouncing the police for smearing the teen’s name and blaming the victim. The statement described Brown’s death as a “brutal assassination” in broad daylight.
The police chief defended his decision to release the surveillance tape, saying that he was trying to satisfy the news media’s repeated requests for information.
“What I did was release the videotape to you because I had to,” he said. “I’ve been sitting on it, but too many people put in an FOI request for that, and I had to release it.” He was referring to requests under the Freedom of Information Act.
Asked about the family’s reaction, he said: “My response to that is, first, my heart goes out to the family. I can’t imagine what they’re going through. We have given you everything that we have now, and everything that we can give you.”
— Erin McClam