“We don’t want anyone’s life threatened. If someone like this officer is killed, then there is no justice,” said John Gaskin III of St. Louis County’s NAACP chapter. Police have said the shooting happened after an officer encountered 18-year-old Michael Brown and another man on the street. They say one of the men pushed the officer into his squad car, then physically assaulted him in the vehicle and struggled with the officer over the officer’s weapon. At least one shot was fired inside the car. The struggle then spilled onto the street, where Brown was shot multiple times.
Dorian Johnson, who says he was with Brown when the shooting happened, has told a much different story. He has told media outlets that the officer ordered them out of the street, then tried to open his door so close to the men that it “ricocheted” back, apparently upsetting the officer. Johnson says the officer grabbed his friend’s neck, then tried to pull him into the car before brandishing his weapon and firing. He says Brown started to run and the officer pursued him, firing multiple times. Johnson and another witness both say Brown was on the street with his hands raised when the officer fired at him repeatedly.
Robert McCulloch, the county’s prosecutor, said that investigators were interviewing Johnson on Wednesday.
Jackson said that the officer sustained swelling facial injuries during the confrontation that preceeded the shooting.
Brown’s body remained on the street for hours — a span Jackson deemed “uncomfortable” but justified, given that “you only get one chance at that crime scene” to process it correctly. Jackson said authorities also were concerned about gunfire they could hear from a nearby building.
In the shooting’s aftermath, the notorious hacking collective Anonymous has taken credit for hacking into the city website and shutting it down for much of Monday. The group also released what it said were audio experts from St. Louis County dispatch on the day Brown was killed as well as a complete list of employees of the Ferguson police department. Police declined to comment on the recordings.
On Tuesday, hackers posted pictures of St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar’s home and family online, as well as his home address and telephone number in hopes of pressuring him to release the officer’s name. In one picture, alleged to be of Belmar’s son, a Confederate flag can be seen in the background.
“Realistically, what positive could come from that information coming out?” Jackson said. “Right now, people want it so they can destroy that person’s life. That’s the only reason that group’s asking for it.”
But community members said they want to know who the officer is.
“We have the right to know, and the family has the right to know who murdered their son,” said Sahari Gutierrez, a 27-year-old Ferguson legal assistant.
(Photo, Video Anonymous via Twitter)