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President Obama calls Michael Brown's death 'heartbreaking'

US President Barack Obama speaks in the State Dining Room at the White House, August 7, 2014.
US President Barack Obama speaks in the State Dining Room at the White House, August 7, 2014.

President Barack Obama weighed in on the controversial police shooting death of Michael Brown, an unarmed teen from Ferguson, Missouri, in a brief official statement on Tuesday.

"The death of Michael Brown is heartbreaking, and Michelle and I send our deepest condolences to his family and his community at this very difficult time," Obama said.

"As Attorney General Holder has indicated, the Department of Justice is investigating the situation along with local officials, and they will continue to direct resources to the case as needed. I know the events of the past few days have prompted strong passions, but as details unfold, I urge everyone in Ferguson, Missouri, and across the country, to remember this young man through reflection and understanding. We should comfort each other and talk with one another in a way that heals, not in a way that wounds. Along with our prayers, that's what Michael and his family, and our broader American community, deserve," he added.

The president's statement recalls his remarks on the death of Trayvon Martin in March 2012, another unarmed African-American teen whose shooting death stirred racial tensions and national debate. Obama was both lauded and criticized for empathizing with Martin's family.

Following the verdict in the trial of his shooter (George Zimmerman was acquitted in Martin's death), the president said that Trayvon Martin, "could have been me 35 years ago."

Brown was killed Saturday after an altercation with local police. While his family and witnesses claim that he was shot while he had his arms raised, local police say he was killed because he attempted to take an officer's gun from within a squad car. Following Brown's death there have been both peaceful and violent protests in the Ferguson community.

The death of Brown comes in the wake of a series of polarizing incidents involving the alleged use of excessive police force. 

“He was a good boy who didn’t deserve any of this,” Michael Brown Sr., the teen’s father, told reporters on Monday.