A night of chaos in Ferguson following the grand jury announcement
FERGUSON, Missouri – Violence broke out in the streets here on Monday evening following news that a St. Louis County grand jury did not indict police officer Darren Wilson in the shooting death of unarmed black teenager Michael Brown. Demonstrations that began peacefully in the wake of the announcement took a nasty turn as looters plundered local stores and protesters flipped cars and set buildings and police vehicles ablaze.
As buildings remained burning, St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay and Police Chief Sam Dotson on Tuesday morning addressed the unrest, stating that preparations are in order for another night of violent protests if necessary. “You will see an intervention much more quickly than you did last night,” Slay said.
County prosecutor Robert McCulloch announced the grand jury’s decision around 9:30 p.m. ET in a lengthy statement at the Justice Center in Clayton, the county seat. He said that while it was undeniable that Wilson had shot and killed Brown in an altercation on August 9, the grand jury “determined that no probable cause exists” to indict the white officer in the killing. “It doesn’t lessen the tragedy that it was a justifiable use of self-defense,” McCulloch added.
According to Chief Jon Belmar of the St. Louis Police Department, police were hit with rocks almost immediately after McCulloch made his statement. Despite reports of over 150 shots of gunfire, no officers or citizens lost their lives. No serious injuries were sustained by officers, but police reported on Tuesday morning that tear gas had yet again been used, 61 people were arrested, and 12 buildings were burned beyond saving. The charges ranged from trespassing to burglary to arson.
Brown, 18, was shot and killed by Wilson in broad daylight following an altercation that ended with the officer shooting the unarmed teenager at least six times, autopsies revealed. Police say Wilson, shot the black teen in self-defense after Brown reached for the officer’s gun through the window of the police car. Brown’s body was left in the hot street for hours before it was removed from the scene.
Forensic evidence, published in The New York Times and attributed to unnamed sources, suggested the first shots were fired from inside Wilson’s vehicle. A half-dozen eyewitnesses have said publicly that they saw Brown flee to later turn and put his hands up in surrender as Wilson fired the final fatal shots. But a government official who spoke on condition of anonymity told NBC News’ Pete Williams that Wilson said the teen turned and charged back toward him after running from the vehicle, at which point Wilson feared for his life.