Missouri governor sends in National Guard after shooting protests
FERGUSON - The Associated Press / Reuters
People protest Sunday, Aug. 17, 2014, for Michael Brown, who was killed by a police officer last Saturday in Ferguson, Missouri. AP PhotoMissouri Governor Jay Nixon ordered the National Guard on Monday to help restore peace to the St Louis suburb of Ferguson, hours after police fired tear gas to disperse people protesting against the shooting of a black teenager by an officer.
"Tonight, a day of hope, prayers and peaceful protests was marred by the violent criminal acts of an organized and growing number of individuals," Nixon said in a statement on his website. As a result, Nixon said, he was directing the National Guard to help "in restoring peace and order to this community."
Autopsy report revealed
An unarmed black teenager killed by a white officer in Missouri was shot at least six times, including twice in the head, a preliminary private autopsy has found.
The New York Times reported that the autopsy by Dr. Michael Baden, a former New York City chief medical examiner, found that one of the bullets entered the top of Michael Brown's skull, suggesting that his head was bent forward when he suffered a fatal injury.
Baden said it was likely the last of bullets to hit Brown, 18, whose death has spurred a week of rancorous protests in Ferguson, in suburban St. Louis.
Police have said little about the encounter between Brown and the officer, except to say that it involved a scuffle in which the officer was injured and Brown was shot. Witnesses say the teenager had his hands in the air as the officer fired multiple rounds.
Baden told the Times that Brown was also shot four times in the right arm and that all the bullets were fired into his front. The newspaper said the bullets did not appear to have come from very close range because there was no gunpowder on his body.
That determination could change if there were residue on Brown's clothing, which Baden did not examine, the newspaper said.
Some of the bullets entered and exited Brown several times, the newspaper said, including one that caused at least five wounds. It said one shattered his right eye, went through his face, left through his jaw and re-entered his collarbone. The last two shots in the head would have stopped him in his tracks and were likely the last fired, the Times said.
Baden told the newspaper Brown would not have survived even if he had been taken to a hospital immediately. Baden did not return a message left by The Associated Press earlier Aug. 17. Earlier on Aug. 18, Attorney General Eric Holder ordered a federal medical examiner to perform another autopsy on Brown, citing the "extraordinary circumstances" surrounding his death and a request by Brown's family.
Police resorts to 'unprovoked' tear gas
Meanwhile, gunfire was heard and police used tear gas and smoke canisters to disperse protesters as chaos erupted Aug. 17 night in Ferguson.
Hundreds of protesters fled to safety after authorities fired canisters of smoke to disperse them hours ahead of a planned midnight curfew. The Missouri Highway Patrol said some tear gas was used along with the smoke bombs.
Gunfire was heard, by a Reuters reporter and photographer, but it was unclear where it was coming from. The crowd of about 400 appeared to be marching peacefully but a spokesman for the Missouri Highway Patrol said "aggressors" had advanced on a law enforcement command post.
"The smoke bombs were completely unprovoked," said Anthony Ellis, 45. "It [the protest] was led by kids on bikes. Next you know, they're saying, 'Go home, Go home!'"
However, the Missouri Highway Patrol said "aggressors" were trying to infiltrate a law enforcement command post and that armored vehicles were deployed to ensure public safety.
"We ordered them back. We ordered them back again. After several attempts, we utilized the smoke to disperse these individuals," said Missouri Highway Patrol Corporal Justin Wheetley said.
The actions took place hours before a midnight curfew imposed for the second night in the tense St. Louis suburb, site of ongoing protests as well as violence and looting since Brown was shot to death on Aug. 9 by white police officer Darren Wilson.
Police say Brown was asked by Wilson to move out of the road and onto a sidewalk and that Brown reached into a patrol car and struggled with Wilson for his service gun and was shot.
A friend of Brown's, Dorian Johnson, 22, and at least one other witness said Wilson reached out through his car window to grab at Brown and the teenager was trying to get away when shot. Brown held up his hands in a sign of surrender, but Wilson got out of his patrol car and shot Brown several times, they said.
The police department in the St. Louis suburb has come under strong criticism for Brown's death and its handling of the aftermath. The clashes in Ferguson have pitted mostly black protesters against mostly white police in a residential and retail district.
The Highway Patrol captain charged with restoring order told hundreds of people gathered at a local church for a rally on Sunday that he was committed to protecting their right to protest.
"I'm sorry," Captain Ron Johnson, who is black, told Brown's family during remarks that prompted repeated standing ovations at the rally. "My heart is heavy."
The mood at the rally was somber, as a choir sang gospel music at Greater Grace Church, civil rights activist the Rev. Al Sharpton asked participants to join hands and prepare themselves for difficult days ahead as the results of three autopsies of Brown's body become public, and his funeral is held.
"This is a defining moment in this country," Sharpton told the crowd. Brown's death "will change this town," he said. In St. Louis on Aug. 17, about 125 people attended a rally in support of officer Darren Wilson, the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department said. Protesters held signs that read, "We love and support you Darren" and "Support our police. Pray for peace."
On Saturday, protesters were dispersed by police using canisters of smoke and later teargas after refusing to leave the area when the midnight-to-5 a.m. curfew began. Seven protesters were arrested after failing to disperse.
The smoke and teargas were "the minimum amount of force that we could have used to get them moving," said Missouri State Highway Patrol spokesman Al Nothum.
Overnight Aug. 16 one person was shot and critically wounded. The circumstances were not clear, and the shooter was still at large, police said. Johnson said police were unable to identify the victim, who he said was not shot by police.