Ferguson Shooting: Police Officers Released From the Hospital
Ferguson Shooter Is a ‘Damn Punk,’ Attorney General Says.
FERGUSON, Mo. (Reuters) – The shooting of two police officers in Ferguson, Missouri, during a protest rally sparked an intense manhunt for suspects on Thursday and ratcheted up tensions in a city at the center of a national debate over race and policing.The two officers who were shot in front of the Ferguson Police Department early Thursday while demonstrators were gathered across the street have been released from hospital. The shooter was still at large as of Thursday afternoon. “This was not someone trying to bring healing to Ferguson,” Holder said at a gathering for the Justice Department’s launch of a pilot program to build trust between law enforcement and local communities. “This was a damn punk who was trying to sow discord in an area that’s trying to get its act together and trying to bring together a community that has been fractured for too long.” The Attorney General reiterated a statement he released earlier in the day condemning the “heinous attack” and offering the support of the Justice Department and the FBI. “But make no mistake, we still have a long way to go to bring about this systemic change that is needed and that is long overdue in that area,” he said. “But I think the earlier indications have truly been positive.” News video footage showed officers on top of a house, seemingly trying to break through the roof. “People have been taken in for questioning,” police spokesman, Sergeant Brian Schellman, said, adding: “No arrests at this point.” Protesters who gathered outside the city’s police headquarters late on Wednesday evening were beginning to disperse when shots rang out and the two officers were hit, one in the shoulder and the other in the face.
The shootings promised once again to inflame tensions that erupted after the killing of an unarmed black man, 18-year-old Michael Brown, by a police officer last August. Asked whether the gunman played any part in the protest, Belmar said he was “very confident that whoever did this was there for the wrong reasons.” The protest unfolded just hours after Ferguson announced that Police Chief Tom Jackson would resign. The report said the department operated a “toxic” system of apprehending members of Ferguson’s mostly black citizenry for minor misdemeanours as often as possible to boost the city’s coffers.
Claire McCaskill urged “healing and reform,” calling the shooting a “criminal act that jeopardized the lives of police officers and protesters both.” Jackson was the sixth employee to resign or be fired after a Justice Department report last week cleared Wilson of civil rights charges in the shooting. According to an initial investigation, the bullets that struck the officers came from 120 yards beyond the protest itself and were fired by a handgun. Louis County Police officer with a shoulder wound and a 32-year- old officer from nearby Webster Groves Police Department with a bullet lodged near his ear, St.
Mayor James Knowles III announced Wednesday that the city had reached a mutual separation agreement with Jackson that will pay him one year of his nearly $96,000 annual salary and extend his health coverage. Jackson’s resignation becomes effective March 19, at which point Lieutenant-Colonel Al Eickhoff will become acting chief while the city searches for a replacement. Jackson had resisted calls by protesters and some of Missouri’s top elected leaders to step down over his handling of Brown’s shooting and the weeks of protests that followed. He was widely criticized from the outset for the aggressive police response to protests and his agency’s erratic and infrequent releases of key information. He took nearly a week to publicly identify Wilson as the shooter and then further heightened tension in the community by releasing Wilson’s name at the same time as store security video that police said showed Brown stealing a box of cigars and shoving a clerk a short time before his death.
Mr Belmar said it was now the “number one priority of St Louis county police” to identify who was to blame, noting that while officers at the site of the shooting had not returned fire, they might do so in the future. Officers did not return fire but may in future, he said. “I have said all along that we cannot sustain this forever without problems,” he said, referring to festering tensions in the city since Brown’s death.
Those condemning the attack included a lawyer for the family of Mr Brown. “There may be a few people who are misguided or confused, but in large part the majority of the protesters and the majority of Americans want justice,” Benjamin Crump told CNN. But we also deplore the findings of the Department of Justice report and the suffering and the misery that this community has endured.” Knowles said on Wednesday he was committed to keeping the department intact, but Belmar, the St.
Jay Nixon called out thousands of National Guard to patrol the streets of Ferguson and temporarily put the head of the state Highway Patrol in charge of security.
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