Police in the U.S. state of Missouri say the unarmed black teenager whose shooting death by a police officer sparked days of protests was a robbery suspect.
The police chief of the town of Ferguson, Thomas Jackson, released police reports Friday, including video surveillance footage police said showed 18-year-old shooting victim Michael Brown involved in a confrontation with a convenience store clerk on August 9. The report says Brown left with a box of cigars. He was later shot by the officer responding to an emergency medical call.
At a news conference Friday, Jackson said the officer initially stopped Brown because the teenager was blocking traffic as he walked down the street.
The police chief identified the officer who shot and killed Brown as Darren Wilson, a six-year veteran of the force with no disciplinary record. The police department placed Wilson on administrative leave after the shooting. Jackson characterized Wilson as a "gentle, quiet man" who "never intended for any of this to happen."
The incident has sparked violence in the town and vigils by thousands of people across the United States.
At solidarity events held in nearly 100 cities Thursday, protesters observed a moment of silence for the teenager and others who have died at the hands of police.
Thursday was a night of peaceful protest in the St. Louis suburb, as demonstrators again called for justice. Heavily-armed local police were replaced by state highway patrol officers who stayed out out of the way of demonstrators. Crowds even cheered as the new officer in charged marched with protesters. Captain Ron Johnson grew up here.
"It means a lot to me that we break this cycle of violence, defuse the tension and build trust showing the utmost respect for every interaction with every citizen," said Johnson.
On Thursday, President Barack Obama urged calm as police toned down their response to violent protests.
Obama said "there is never an excuse for violence against police, or for those who would use this tragedy as a cover for vandalism or looting.''
He also said there is no excuse for police to use excessive force against peaceful protests or to throw protesters in jail for lawfully exercising their First Amendment rights.
On Thursday, Missouri Governor Jay Nixon ordered the state police to take over security from local law enforcement, who have drawn heavy criticism for their response to the demonstrations. He said the fact that Ferguson looks like a "war zone" after rioting is "unacceptable" and said police would shift their approach.
Conflicting accounts of what happened are under investigation. Witnesses say a white police officer shot the black teenager multiple times as the young man had his arms raised but police say shots were fired during a struggle for the officer's gun.