FERGUSON, Mo. — A local NAACP chapter has called for a federal investigation into the death of a black teenager who was shot by police in a St. Louis suburb.
Eighteen-year-old Michael Brown was shot and killed Saturday afternoon near his grandmother’s house by a Ferguson police officer. St. Louis County police have not given a reason for the shooting, which happened in a predominantly black suburb a few miles north of downtown St. Louis.
After the shooting, a confrontation between police and hundreds of neighborhood residents lasted several hours, with shouts of “kill the police.” At the height of the post-shooting tensions, police called for about 60 other units to respond to the area in Ferguson, a city of about 21,000 residents, about two-thirds of whom are black.
The St. Louis County Police are investigating the shooting. But John Gaskin, a member of the St. Louis County NAACP, said the FBI should get involved “to protect the integrity of the investigation.”
He alluded to the 2012 racially charged shooting of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin by a Florida neighborhood watch organizer who was subsequently acquitted of murder charges, as well as the New York man who died from a police chokehold after he was confronted for selling individual cigarettes.
“With the recent events of a young man killed by the police in New York City and with Trayvon Martin and with all the other African-American young men that have been killed by police officers ... this is a dire concern to the NAACP, especially our local organization,” Gaskin said.
State Sen. Jamilah Nasheed, D-St. Louis, told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that she would ask the U.S. Justice Department on Monday for a formal investigation.
Brown’s grandmother, Desiree Harris, said she saw him running in her neighborhood Saturday afternoon. Just minutes later, she heard a commotion and went outside to check on it. She found Brown’s body less than two blocks away.
“When I got up there, my grandson was lying on the pavement. I asked the police what happened. They didn’t tell me nothing.”
Harris said her grandson had recently graduated high school and was looking forward to the future.
“My grandson never even got into a fight,” she said. “He was just looking forward to getting on with his life. He was on his way.”
McSpadden had harsh words Saturday for authorities: “You’re not God, you don’t get to decide when you get to take somebody from here,” she told KSDK.
Ferguson Police Chief Thomas Jackson told the Post-Dispatch that the officer involved has been placed on paid administrative leave.
“We are hoping for calm and for people to give us a chance to conduct a thorough investigation,” Jackson said.
Associated Press writer Maria Sudekum contributed from Kansas City, Missouri.