Missouri Police Cite Threats in Deciding Not to Name Officer Who Shot Teenager
FERGUSON, Mo. — The chief of police here said Tuesday that he had reconsidered his decision to release the name of the police officer involved in the fatal shooting of an unarmed African-American teenager and would not do so because of concerns about the officer’s safety.
The Ferguson Police Department had said it would release the officer’s name by noon on Tuesday, but then it reversed itself after it said that threats had been made on social media against the officer and the city’s police.
“The value of releasing the name is far outweighed by the risk of harm to the officer and his family,” the police chief, Thomas Jackson, said in announcing a decision that was quickly criticized. The officer has been placed on administrative leave.
The change came amid another day of protests in the St. Louis suburbs where the teenager, Michael Brown, 18, was shot several times on Saturday by an officer as he and a friend walked from a convenience store. The circumstances remain in dispute. The police say Mr. Brown hit the officer and tried to steal his gun; Mr. Brown’s family and friends deny that.
The F.B.I. has opened a civil rights inquiry into the shooting, and the case is being investigated by the St. Louis County Police. The results of an autopsy on Mr. Brown have not been released.
The protests have at times turned violent: Stores have been looted, and at least one business was set on fire. The police have made more than 40 arrests since Sunday and fired tear gas and rubber bullets at demonstrators.
A gathering on Tuesday night turned into another skirmish with police officers, who used tear gas to disperse the remnants of a bigger crowd. Two shooting incidents were also reported nearby, but authorities told local media that it was unclear whether they were related to the protest. In one incident, a woman was injured in what appeared to be a drive-by shooting. In the other, the local media reported that police shot a man who had pulled a gun on an officer. Police, according to media reports, were responding to reports of several men with guns and wearing ski masks.
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