FERGUSON, Mo. — An 18-year-old black man shot multiple times by a suburban St. Louis police officer was unarmed when he died, police said Sunday, as hundreds of local residents protested and a civil rights leader expressed outrage at the killing.
Michael Brown had graduated from high school and was about to enter a local college, said his mother, Lesley McSpadden.
St. Louis County police Chief Jon Belmar said the shooting occurred after an officer encountered two people — one of whom was Brown — on the street near an apartment complex Saturday afternoon in Ferguson, a predominantly black suburb a few miles north of downtown St. Louis.
At a news conference, Belmar said one of the men pushed the officer back into his squad car and a struggle began. Belmar said at least one shot was fired from the officer's gun inside the police car. Ferguson police Chief Tom Jackson said authorities were still sorting out what happened inside the police car. It was not clear if Brown was the man who struggled with the officer.
The struggle spilled out into the street, where Brown was shot multiple times, Belmar said. He also said all shell casings found at the scene matched the officer's gun. Police are still investigating why the officer, whose race was not disclosed, shot Brown.
Jackson said the second person has not been arrested or charged and was expected to be interviewed later Sunday. Police aren't sure if that person was unarmed, Jackson said.
McSpadden said she doesn't understand why police didn't subdue her son with a club or Taser instead of shooting him, and she said the officer involved should be fired and prosecuted.
"I would like to see him go to jail with the death penalty," she said Sunday at the site of the shooting, fighting back tears.
John Gaskin, who serves on both the St. Louis County and national boards of directors for the NAACP, said, "We're outraged because yet again a young African-American man has been killed by law enforcement."
A few hundred protesters gathered outside Ferguson police headquarters about the time the news conference was to begin. Many of them marched into an adjacent police building, some chanting "Don't shoot me" while holding their hands in the air. The crowd eventually left.