FERGUSON, Missouri: The FBI was investigating possible civil rights violations after a suburban St. Louis police officer fatally shot an unarmed teenager.
The FBI opened an investigation Monday into possible civil rights violations arising from the death of 18-year-old Michael Brown, said Cheryl Mimura, a spokeswoman for the FBI’s St. Louis field office. Police say Brown was shot multiple times Saturday in a scuffle with an officer in Ferguson, a predominantly black suburb.
The killing drew criticism from some civil rights leaders, who referred to the 2012 racially charged shooting of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin, an unarmed African-American, by a Florida neighborhood watch organizer who was acquitted of murder charges.
Civil rights leader Rev. Al Sharpton called the shooting “very disturbing” and said he planned to go to Ferguson to meet with the family.
A candlelight vigil for Brown was held Sunday, and tensions erupted later that night. Nearly three dozen people were arrested after a crowd looted and burned stores, vandalized vehicles and taunted officers.
Tensions erupted in Ferguson after a candlelight vigil Sunday night. Crowds looted and burned stores, vandalized vehicles and taunted officers who tried to block access to parts of the city. Witnesses said the vandals were likely opportunistic outsiders who arrived looking for a chance to steal.
County Police Chief Jon Belmar said that on Saturday, an officer encountered Brown and another man outside an apartment complex in Ferguson. One of the men pushed the officer into his squad car and they struggled.
Belmar said at least one shot was fired from the officer’s gun inside the police car. Ferguson Police Chief Tom Jackson said authorities were still sorting out what happened inside the police car.
The struggle spilled out into the street, where Brown was shot multiple times. Belmar said the exact number of shots wasn’t known and that all shell casings at the scene matched the officer’s gun. Police were investigating why the officer shot Brown, who police have confirmed was unarmed.
Earlier Sunday, a few hundred protesters gathered outside Ferguson Police headquarters. Some marched into an adjacent police building chanting “Don’t shoot me” while holding their hands in the air.
Brown’s mother, Lesley McSpadden, said she didn’t understand why police didn’t subdue her high school graduate son with a club or stun gun, and that the officer involved should be fired and prosecuted.
“We’re outraged because yet again a young African-American man has been killed by law enforcement,” said John Gaskin, who serves on both the St. Louis County and national boards of directors for the NAACP, the oldest American civil rights group.