Police shoot dead second black man
FERGUSON –– The police killing of a second black St Louis-area man in 11 days has threatened to further enflame tensions. Today police officers shot dead a man who brandished a knife at them, St Louis Police Chief Sam Dotson said.
The August 9 police shooting of Michael Brown, 18, has sparked days of violent protests in the town of Ferguson, prompting a heavy police crackdown.
There is widespread anger against the mainly white police force for killing Brown, who was unarmed.
Brown’s family say his funeral will take place on Monday.
United States Attorney General Eric Holder is due to visit Ferguson tomorrow to meet officials investigating the killing.
Today’s police shooting has threatened to further inflame tensions within the community.
According to police, in the early afternoon, two officers shot and killed a knife-wielding man four miles (6.4 kilometres) from the site of Brown’s killing. St Louis Police Chief Sam Dotson said witnesses reported the man had been behaving in an erratic manner, and emphasized the officers had a right to defend themselves.
“The suspect turned toward officers, pulled out knife in an overhand grip, told officers, ‘Shoot me now, kill me now’,” he told reporters.
In another development in the Michael Brown case, the St Louis county prosecutor’s office today said it would present evidence against the officer who killed Brown to a grand jury tomorrow. The citizen panel will determine whether or not to charge Darren Wilson with a crime.
Both St Louis officials and the United States Justice Department are conducting investigations into the case, which has provoked demonstrations throughout the country.
Witnesses have said Brown was shot as he held his hands up in a position of surrender, while the police and supporters of Wilson have said he fired during a fight with Brown.
An autopsy commissioned by Brown’s family concluded he had been shot six times, twice in the head.
New York pathologist Dr Baden said his body showed no signs of a struggle.
He also believed Brown was not shot at close range as there was no gunpowder residue on his body, suggesting the officer was more than two feet away.
Last night protests in Ferguson again turned violent, despite the presence of troops from the National Guard.
Missouri Highway Patrol Captain Ron Johnson, who has led the police response since Thursday, said officers were forced to use tear gas and stun grenades after they came under “heavy gunfire” and were attacked with petrol bombs and bottles. He said two people were hit by gunfire from demonstrators, insisting that officers did not use their weapons.
Johnson appealed to demonstrators to protest in the daytime to prevent a “tiny minority of lawbreakers” from deliberately sparking violence.
“Anyone who has been at these protests understands that there is a dangerous dynamic in the night: it allows a small number of violent agitators to hide in the crowd and then attempt to create chaos,” he told journalists.
Those arrested include people from other states, including New York and California, Capt Johnson said. Correspondents say this suggests the protests are becoming more organized.
Separately, President Barack Obama said he understood the “passions and anger” provoked by the death of the teenager.
“In too many communities, too many young men of colour are left behind and seen only as objects of fear,” he said.