FBI takes over case of police officer in Missouri shooting black teenager

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 12 August, 2014, 1:07am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 12 August, 2014, 1:07am

The FBI was taking over the investigation of a suburban StLouis police officer who fatally shot an unarmed black teenager, a death that was followed by unrest as crowds looted and burned stores.

Police arrested 32 people after rioting and looting erupted in Ferguson, Missouri, late on Sunday and spread to neighbouring towns in protests that turned violent over the killing.

Crowds broke the windows of cars and stores, set a building on fire and looted shops following a day of demonstrations over the death of Michael Brown, who was shot on Saturday by a Ferguson police officer.

At least two dozen businesses were damaged, St Louis County Police spokesman Brian Schellman said yesterday.

More than 300 police officers, many in riot gear, tried to control the crowd, and two officers were injured.

"The words I heard them use about the scene were 'chaotic,' even 'scary'," Schellman said.

He said unrest had spread from Ferguson, a largely black St Louis suburb, to adjacent communities before ending early yesterday.

The 32 people arrested would face charges that could include assault, larceny and burglary, Schellman said.

Ferguson's streets were relatively quiet early yesterday.

Some debris littered the area but crowds had dispersed.

Police said Brown was shot after a struggle over a gun in a police car. It was not immediately clear why Brown was in the car.

At least one shot was fired during the struggle, and then the officer fired more shots before leaving the car.

The officer, who was not identified, was a six-year veteran and had been put on administrative leave, St Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar told a news conference late on Sunday.

The officer's race has not been disclosed.

The FBI now planned to take control of the investigation, Ferguson Police Chief Tom Jackson said.

The killing drew criticism from some civil rights leaders, who referred to the 2012 racially charged shooting of Trayvon Martin, an unarmed black teenager by a Florida neighbourhood watch organiser who was acquitted of murder charges.

Benjamin Crump - the lawyer who represented the family of Martin - said on Twitter he had been hired by Brown's family to represent them.

Associated Press, Reuters

Agence France-Presse