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Monday 11 December 2017

Teen grabbed my gun and said: 'You're too much of a pussy to shoot'

RAGE: Cities burn with rage as police officer's released testimony describes confrontation that led to fatal shooting of teenager

Police guard the Ferguson police department as rioting erupts following the grand jury announcement in the Michael Brown case on November 24, 2014 in Ferguson, Missouri. Ferguson has been struggling to return to normal after Brown, an 18-year-old black man, was killed by Darren Wilson, a white Ferguson police officer, on August 9. His death has sparked months of sometimes violent protests in Ferguson. A grand jury today declined to indict officer Wilson.
Police guard the Ferguson police department as rioting erupts following the grand jury announcement in the Michael Brown case on November 24, 2014 in Ferguson, Missouri. Ferguson has been struggling to return to normal after Brown, an 18-year-old black man, was killed by Darren Wilson, a white Ferguson police officer, on August 9. His death has sparked months of sometimes violent protests in Ferguson. A grand jury today declined to indict officer Wilson.
Protesters and police clash in front of LAPD Headquarters as people react to the grand jury decision not to indict a white police officer who had shot dead an unarmed black teenager in Ferguson, Missouri, in the early morning hours of November 25, 2014 in Los Angeles, California. Police officer Darren Wilson shot 18-year-old Michael Brown on August 9, sparking large ongoing protests
A sign sits amidst rubble at a building that was damaged during a demonstration on November 25, 2014 in Dellwood, Missouri. Demonstrators caused extensive damage in Ferguson and surrounding areas after a St. Louis County grand jury decided to not indict Ferguson police Officer Darren Wilson in the shooting of Michael Brown
Demonstrator sits in front of a street fire during a demonstration following the grand jury decision in the Ferguson, Missouri shooting of Michael Brown, in Oakland, California
A protester stands in the street after being treated for tear gas exposure after a grand jury returned no indictment in the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri
A protester squirts lighter fluid on a police car as the car windows are shattered near the Ferguson Police Department after the announcement of the grand jury decision not to indict police Officer Darren Wilson in the fatal shooting of Michael Brown, an unarmed black 18-year-old, Monday, Nov. 24, 2014, in Ferguson

Aiming to head off more looting and rioting, Missouri's governor has ordered National Guard reinforcements into the St Louis suburb of Ferguson following overnight violence ignited by the clearing of a white police officer in the fatal shooting of an unarmed black teenager.

Attorneys for the family of Michael Brown, the 18-year-old who was shot dead by officer Darren Wilson in August, condemned the grand jury process that led to Monday's decision not to bring criminal charges against the officer.

About a dozen buildings in Ferguson burned overnight and 61 people, mostly from the St Louis area, were arrested for crimes including burglary, illegal weapons possession and unlawful assembly, police said. Shops were looted during the unrest.

fired

The decision also led to protests in other major US cities. Police fired tear gas and flash-bang canisters at protesters on Monday night. Police said protesters fired guns at them, lit patrol cars on fire and hurled bricks into their lines.

Brown family lawyers Benjamin Crump and Anthony Gray said in a news conference that the process had been unfair because the prosecutor in the case had a conflict of interest and Wilson was not properly cross-examined. They said a special prosecutor should have been appointed.

"This process is broken. The process should be indicted," Crump said.

Civil rights activist Reverand Al Sharpton said the grand jury system was misused in the case. At a news conference with the Brown family and their lawyers, Sharpton said the grand jury decision not to issue charges against Wilson was not surprising and urged a continued investigation by the federal government.

"We see that Michael Brown's death has been spit upon by the criminal justice system here," said the Reverend Michael McBride, an activist from California.

"Now is the opportunity for the president to really be my brother's keeper."

The violence erupted despite pleas for calm from President Obama and the family of the victim. Prosecuting Attorney Bob McCulloch said witnesses had given the grand jury inconsistent accounts of the shooting, including whether Brown's hands were raised and whether he was stumbling or charging toward the police officer, Darren Wilson. Authorities later released Wilson's own account of the shooting, in which he said Brown had punched him in the face and tried to grab his gun.

Shortly after the announcement, authorities released more than 1,000 pages of grand jury documents, including Wilson's testimony.

Wilson told jurors that he initially encountered Brown and a friend walking in a street and, when he told them to move to a sidewalk, Brown responded with an expletive. Wilson then noticed that Brown had a handful of cigars, "and that's when it clicked for me", he said, referring to a radio report minutes earlier of a robbery at a nearby convenience store.

The officer said he asked a dispatcher to send additional police, and then backed his vehicle up in front of Brown and his friend. As he tried to open the door, Wilson said Brown slammed it back shut. The officer said he pushed Brown with the door and Brown hit him in the face. Wilson told grand jurors he was thinking: "What do I do not to get beaten inside my car."

"I drew my gun," Wilson told the grand jury. "I said, 'Get back or I'm going to shoot you.'

"He immediately grabs my gun and says, 'You are too much of a pussy to shoot me'," Wilson told grand jurors. He said Brown grabbed the gun with his right hand, twisted it and "digs it into my hip".

Asked why he felt the need to pull his gun, Wilson told grand jurors he was concerned another punch to his face could "knock me out or worse".

shots

After shots were fired in the vehicle, Brown fled and Wilson gave chase. At some point, Brown turned around to face the officer.

Witness accounts were conflicted about whether Brown walked, stumbled or charged back toward Wilson before he was fatally wounded, McCulloch said. There were also differing accounts of how or whether Brown's hands were raised.

His body fell about 153 feet from Wilson's vehicle. Thousands rallied - mostly peacefully - in other US cities while the president appealed for calm.

"We are a nation built on the rule of law, so we need to accept that this decision was the grand jury's to make," Obama said.

hnews@herald.ie

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