Criminal Justice

Family of teen fatally shot by cop hires lawyer in Trayvon Martin case; case spurs protests, looting

The family of a Missouri teen killed on Saturday in a police shooting has hired a lawyer who represented the family of Trayvon Martin, while the NAACP called for calm after the incident spurred looting Sunday night.

Police say Michael Brown, 18, was killed after a scuffle with a Ferguson, Missouri, officer in a struggle for the officer’s gun. At a news conference on Sunday, St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar said the officer confronted two individuals, including Brown, who pushed the officer back into his patrol car and “assaulted the officer,” according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. One shot was fired in the patrol car, though it didn’t hit anyone, and then several more shots were fired as Brown ran away, Belmar said.

Belmar didn’t say why the officer had confronted Brown and another individual, whom he did not identify. He said the number of shots that hit Brown was “more than just a couple but I don’t think it was many more than that.”

The medical examiner has not yet issued a ruling on how many times Brown was shot. Brown’s mother, Lesley McSpadden, said she was told her son was shot eight times. Witnesses said he had his hands in the air when he was shot. Additional coverage can be found at the New York Times, CNN and USA Today.

Brown did not have a weapon. He was scheduled to begin college at a technical school today. Teachers described him as a “gentle giant,” according to this story by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “He said he wasn’t going to end up like some people on the streets,” a friend told the Post-Dispatch. “He was going to get an education. He was going to make his life a whole a lot better.”

The fatal shooting spurred protests on Saturday and Sunday, and looting on Sunday. Police used tear gas to break up crowds and arrested 32 people, according to USA Today and the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. One officer was injured when hit by a brick and another had knee injuries. Shots were fired at a police helicopter, but it was not hit, police said.

NAACP president Cornell Williams Brooks issued a statement on Monday saying the organization would seek answers in Brown’s shooting. “Even as we call for accountability by those charged with protecting the community, we call on the community to act—collectively and calmly until we secure justice for the family of Michael Brown,” the statement said.

The FBI is assisting police in the investigation of Brown’s shooting, and civil-rights lawyers in the U.S. Justice Department are monitoring the case. Brown’s family has hired Benjamin Crump, a Florida civil-rights lawyer who represented the family of Trayvon Martin.

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