The Latest on Ferguson: Officer Who Stopped Michael Brown Did Not Know He Was a Robbery Suspect

The Slatest
Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
Aug. 15 2014 3:30 PM

The Latest on Ferguson: Officer Who Stopped Michael Brown Did Not Know He Was a Robbery Suspect

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Thursday night in Ferguson, Missouri.

Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images

Slate will post running news updates about the situation in Ferguson below. For other Slate coverage of Ferguson, click here.

Friday, Aug. 15, 3:25 p.m.: Ferguson police chief Thomas Jackson says that Darren Wilson, the officer who stopped and shot Michael Brown, did not know he was a suspect in the robbery of a convenience store and that Brown was stopped because he was blocking traffic.

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Friday, Aug. 15, 3 p.m.: From CNN, security camera footage that police say shows Michael Brown stealing cigars and shoving a convenience store clerk on the day of Brown's shooting:

Friday, Aug. 15, 10:17 a.m.: Ferguson police chief Thomas Jackson announced that six-year police veteran Darren Wilson is the officer who killed Michael Brown. According to Jackson, Wilson encountered Brown at 12:01 p.m. on Saturday and, by the time another officer arrived on the scene at 12:04 p.m., Brown had been shot. Jackson said that Wilson did not have a previous disciplinary record.

A report handed out to reporters by Ferguson police alleges that Brown stole cigars from a convenience store and assaulted the store's cashier shortly before the shooting.*

Thursday, Aug. 14, 11:15 p.m.: CNN's Julian Cummings with a big-if-true report.

Thursday, Aug. 14, 9 p.m.: Slate’s Jamelle Bouie is reporting from Ferguson and spoke to Casey and Nate Fielder, who were at Thursday afternoon’s protest with their three children, all under the age of 3. The Fielders have lived in Ferguson for two years, in the neighborhood right by where Michael Brown was killed. Jamelle asked Casey Fielder: Why are you here? This was her response:

Thursday, Aug. 14, 7:45 p.m.: Protests continued in Ferguson into the evening on Thursday and, so far, reports indicate the tone is much improved from Wednesday night’s confrontation. Highway Patrol Capt. Ron Johnson has taken command of the policing of Ferguson and has taken a new approach to managing the protests. Here’s more on Johnson’s outreach efforts from the Associated Press:

He said he planned to keep heavily armored vehicles away from the scene and told his officers not to bring their tear gas masks. By late afternoon, Johnson was walking down the street with a group of more than 1,000 protesters as they chanted "Hands up, don't shoot," a reference to witness accounts that described Brown as having his hands in the air when the officer kept firing. Johnson planned to talk to the demonstrators throughout the night.

St. Louis Post-Dispatch: “As many as 300 marchers are making their way along West Florissant Avenue in what is so far the most peaceful demonstration since the shooting death of Michael Brown five days ago. A police car is leading the procession. Well-wishers and residents handed the marchers water, pizza, homemade dishes and cookies as they passed.”

From the Associated Press: “Early Thursday evening, St. Louis County police and state troopers were walking alongside demonstrators. Several marchers stopped to shake hands with officers. One woman hugged Capt. Ron Johnson of the Highway Patrol, who is overseeing security. The scene stands in stark contrast to earlier this week when officers in riot gear and in military equipment clashed with protesters.”

Thursday, Aug. 14, 5:05 p.m.: Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon says the Missouri Highway Patrol has taken over management of Ferguson "security operations." The Ferguson and St. Louis County police who had previously been in place have taken heavy criticism for their provocative, militaristic approach to maintaining order. It appears at this point that the St. Louis County police will still be investigating Michael Brown's death, though federal authorities are conducting an independent probe.

Video of Nixon's announcement:

Thursday, Aug. 14, 2:40 p.m.: Missouri Rep. William Lacy Clay says that Gov. Jay Nixon plans to replace the St. Louis County police officers who have been patrolling Ferguson.

“The governor just called me, and he’s on his way to St. Louis now to announce he’s taking away St. Louis County police out of the situation,” Clay, a Missouri Democrat, said in a telephone interview. He added that Nixon, a 58-year-old Democrat, may ask the Federal Bureau of Investigation to step in.

At an appearance in Florissant (a city near Ferguson that shares a name with Florissant Avenue, a street on which police and protestors have faced off), Nixon promised "operational shifts" regarding protests but was not more specific:

Nixon is expected to speak publicly again later this afternoon.

Thursday, Aug. 14, 1:35 p.m.: Minutes ago, President Obama addressed the Ferguson situation from Martha's Vineyard, where he is on vacation. The president did not announce any new official actions—he reiterated that the FBI and Justice Department will independently investigate Michael Brown's shooting death—but condemned aggressive police action, specifically criticizing the arrest of journalists, and asked protestors to remain peaceful.

...when something like this happens, the local authorities, including the police, have a responsibility to be open and transparent about how they are investigating that death and how they are protecting the people in their communities. There is never an excuse for violence against police or for those who would use this tragedy as a cover for vandalism or looting. There’s also no excuse for police to use excessive force against peaceful protests or to throw protesters in jail for lawfully exercising their First Amendment rights. And here in the United States of America, police should not be bullying or arresting journalists who are just trying to do their jobs and report to the American people on what they see on the ground.

Here is video of Obama's remarks:

In Ferguson, St. Louis alderman Antonio French tweeted that he had been released from jail after being arrested last night.

Elsewhere, Georgia Congressman and civil-rights movement veteran John Lewis called on Obama to declare martial law in order to allow National Guard units to replace local police in Ferguson.

Correction, Aug. 15, 10:55 a.m.: This post originally stated that the convenience store that was allegedly robbed by Michael Brown was the QuikTrip that was later burned. It also stated that Brown allegedly stole several boxes of cigars. The alleged robbery did not take place at the QuikTrip, and only one box of cigars appears to have been taken from the store. (Return.)

Ben Mathis-Lilley edits the Slatest. Follow @Slatest on Twitter.

Elliot Hannon is a writer in Washington, D.C. Follow him on Twitter.

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