The one-year anniversary of Michael Brown’s death was marred by three shootings in Ferguson, Missouri, including one involving a black man who was shot by police. The shootings, along with looting and other violence, has prompted authorities to declare a state of emergency.
St. Louis County Police claim 18-year-old Tyrone Harris Jr. opened fire on plainclothes officers responding to gunfire and looting near a strip mall late last night. After the officers’ vehicle was hit, they returned fire, and eventually shot Harris after pursuing him on foot. He is currently in critical condition.
After the shooting, Harris’ father, Tyrone Harris Sr., accused police of lying about the incident, claiming his son was a friend of Brown’s who was there to take part in a peaceful protest when the violence broke out.
“My son was running to the police to ask for help, and he was shot,” Harris Sr. told the AP. “It’s all a bunch of lies … They’re making my son look like a criminal.”
But according to St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar, officers had been tracking Harris Jr. during the protest because they believed he was armed. Police also claim to have recovered a stolen semi-automatic 9 mm handgun from the scene.
While Belmar was careful to make a distinction between the people behind the shootings and the peaceful protesters who had rallied earlier in the day, some of the protesters involved were critical of how the situation was handled.
“It was a poor decision to use plainclothes officers in a protest setting because it made it difficult for people to identify police officers, which is essential to the safety of community members,” said Kayla Reed, a field organizer with the Organization of Black Struggle. “Having plainclothes officers without body cameras and proper identification in the protest setting leaves us with only the officer’s account of the incident, which is clearly problematic.”
Elsewhere in Ferguson, a 17-year-old and a 19-year-old were also wounded in a drive-by shooting near Michael Brown’s memorial, although the incident appears to be unrelated to the protests.
According to the AP, a reporter for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch was beaten and robbed while documenting looters, but is expected to recover.
(Source: The Associated Press)