Fri, Mar 13, 2015 - Page 1 News List

Two police officers shot in Ferguson after chief quits

Reuters, FERGUSON, Missouri

Children draw on the sidewalk with chalk outside the Ferguson Police Department in Ferguson, Missouri, yesterday.

Photo: AFP

Two police officers were shot during a protest outside Ferguson, Missouri, police headquarters early yesterday, police said, just hours after the city’s police chief quit following a damning US Department of Justice report into his force.

The shooting of the officers, who were in serious condition at a hospital, was the latest incident in months of turmoil in the St Louis suburb of Ferguson, which has been at the center of an intense national debate over police use of force, particularly against black men, since a white officer killed an unarmed black teenager in August last year.

St Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar told reporters early yesterday that a 41-year-old officer from his department was struck in the shoulder and a 32-year-old officer from the nearby Webster Groves Police Department was hit in the face about midnight as the crowd was starting to break up.

“These police officers were standing there and they were shot, just because they were police officers,” Belmar said. “I have said all along that we cannot sustain this forever without problems.”

He said the officers, whom he did not identify, were both conscious and hospitalized.

The shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown by officer Darren Wilson, along with other police slayings of unarmed people in cities including New York and decisions by grand juries not to charge the involved officers, last year sparked months of protests around the US.

Yesterday’s violence grew out of a Wednesday night demonstration in which several dozen protesters gathered in front of the Ferguson Police Department, just hours after Police Chief Thomas Jackson resigned.

The night started peacefully, but about two dozen officers clad in riot gear later faced off with the protesters. At least two people were taken into custody.

Gunshots rang out about midnight turning a scene of relative quiet into pandemonium. Many of the remaining few dozen demonstrators fled, some screaming.

Belmar said the shooter was among the demonstrators standing across from the officers.

However, protesters at the scene said on social media that the shots did not come from where they were standing.

“The shooter was not with the protesters. The shooter was atop the hill,” activist DeRay McKesson said on Twitter.

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