St. Louis is a city long on emotion and short on facts three days after a police officer killed a teenage boy in the suburb of Ferguson.
“The police chief in Ferguson says that the officer was getting out of his car, there was a struggle over the officer’s firearm. You have some eyewitnesses who claim that Michael Brown, the man who was killed, had his hands up and was surrendering and effectively was shot execution-style. But there’s no one who can really verify this, it’s a little he-said-he-said,” said Mark Reardon, a CBS radio journalist with KMOX in St. Louis.
Meanwhile, protests against the police have erupted around the city, and some of them turned violent. On Sunday night, police arrested 32 people in Ferguson after several stores were looted. And a shoe store in a neighborhood practically across town from Ferguson was looted late Monday night, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.
Police said Brown, 18, suffered multiple gunshots following an altercation with an officer Saturday around noon.
A witness who was with Brown said the shooting was unprovoked, and that the officer shot his friend after he’d put his hands in the air.
U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder has ordered the FBI to investigate the shooting, the circumstances of which aren’t clear. The police department had recently purchased wearable cameras for officers, but officials haven’t put them into use yet. The Ferguson police chief told reporters there was no video footage from the nearby apartment complex and nothing from the police cruiser dashboard camera.
“I think the facts are going to leak out very slowly on this,” Reardon said. The whole city is on edge as it waits to learn more about the case.
“There are certainly white, suburban people in St. Louis who are outraged by the rioting and what they saw, with a QT convenience store being burned down, and the black community more outraged by the shooting. So there’s a deep division right now,” Reardon said.
Investigators have not released the name of the officer involved in the shooting and said they do not plan to do so today. The officer’s race also hasn’t been disclosed. He’s been placed on administrative leave during the investigation.
Listen to Nick Eicher’s full conversation with St. Louis journalist Mark Reardon about the Michael Brown shooting on The World and Everything in It: