What started as a peaceful protest on Sunday following the fatal police shooting of a Missouri teen turned ugly as protestors began looting and throwing bottles at law enforcement officers equipped with riot gear.
The Sunday gathering was intended to be a vigil for Michael Brown of Ferguson, Missouri, who was shot by police on Saturday after an alleged altercation with an officer.
“The genesis of this was a physical confrontation,” explained Jon Belmar, chief of the St. Louis County Police Department, which was called in to conduct an independent investigation.
Belmar said that the officer was attempting to leave his vehicle when the unarmed 18-year-old pushed him back inside the car, “physically assaulted” the officer in an attempt to grab his firearm.
Brown was shot multiple times about 35 feet away from the police car, according to Belmar. An investigation is ongoing.
Meanwhile, at least one witness claims that Brown was shot while he was in the process of surrendering to the officer with his hands in the air, and that he did nothing to warrant the lethal response.
“He (the officer) shot again and once my friend felt that shot, he turned around and put his hands in the air,” Dorian Johnson, a witness and friend of Brown’s, told KMOV. “He started to get down and the officer still approached with his weapon drawn and fired several more shots.”
Belmar confirmed that shell casings from the scene belonging to the officer’s weapon were recovered, noting, “It was more than just a couple.”
Lesley McSpadden, Brown’s mother, was visibly distraught following the news of her son’s death.
“My son just turned 18 and graduated high school and he didn’t bother nobody,” McSpadden told CNN affiliate KSDK.
As far as justice for her son, McSpadden said she’d like to see the police officer “go to jail with the death penalty.”
She’s hired Florida attorney Benjamin Crump for legal representation. Crump was the attorney for Trayvon Martin’s family, the unarmed Florida teen who was fatally shot by neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman during a physical altercation back in February of 2012.
The officer involved in the shooting is on paid administrative leave. Authorities said he is available to discuss the matter with investigators.