Ferguson chief: Officer didn't know about robbery

FERGUSON, Mo. - The police officer that stopped and eventually shot and killed an 18-year-old last weekend had no idea the teen was a suspect in a convenience store robbery just minutes prior, the Ferguson police chief said Friday.

Chief Tom Jackson spoke to media Friday afternoon, hours after he identified Officer Darren Wilson, 28, as the shooter and released surveillance video of the robbery.

Eighteen-year-old Michael Brown was suspected of taking a $48.99 box of cigars from the store in what police described as a "strong-arm robbery." Dorian Johnson, a friend of Brown's who was an eyewitness to the shooting, admitted Friday via his attorney that the pair were involved in the robbery. Chief Jackson said investigators determined Johnson was not complicit in a crime and thus will not face any charges.

"We've pretty much given you every bit of information we have," he said.

Jackson said police have had the surveillance tape for a while, but kept it out of the public eye because they had to see if anybody would be charged. When asked why he opted to make the tape public at the same time he released the officer's name, Chief Jackson said his department had received many Sunshine Law requests for the tape and that police no longer had good cause to keep it under wraps.

The chief said it was not prudent to release the surveillance tape without releasing the name of the officer involved in the shooting.

When asked about the possibility that it was not Brown on the surveillance tape committing the robbery, Jackson implored skeptics to review the tape. Meanwhile, Michael Brown's family issued its own statement Friday to express outrage over the decision to release the video.

Brown was shot and killed August 9 while walking back to his grandmother's house. He was unarmed. Witnesses to the shooting said Brown raised his hands to surrender when he was shot. Police have not confirmed that information.

Wilson, a six-year police veteran, stopped Brown and Johnson because the two were walking in the middle of the street and blocking traffic, Chief Jackson said. Wilson was unaware the pair were wanted in connection with the robbery; another officer was investigating the robbery at the time.

At a news conference Friday morning, Jackson said the officer who killed Brown was at a sick call at 11:48 a.m. and an ambulance was at the location of the sick call. At 11:51 a.m., Jackson said dispatchers received a 911 call about a robbery. One minute later, police dispatch gave a description of the suspect.

Jackson would not discuss any measures being taken for Wilson's security, but described the officer as a "gentleman" and "distinguished officer."

The convenience store that was robbed was not the QuikTrip vandalized and burned during Sunday night's riot.

Jackson said he's known Missouri State Highway Patrol Captain Ron Johnson for years and has every confidence that he'll do a good job leading security for the community.


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