Friend of Michael Brown, 22 year old Dorian Johnson, was with the teenager when he was killed. According to Johnson, the two were walking together in Brown's grandmother's neighborhood before being confronted by a police officer, outside of her apartment complex. The officer told them to get out of the street, and to "get the f*** on to the sidewalk." Johnson stated, that they continued walking, explaining to the officer that they were almost home. Unfortunately, after they made that statement, things took a turn for the worse.
According to Johnson, the officer quickly pulled his truck in front of them, blocked the road, threw open the police car door (which hit brown, bounced off of brown) and then slammed shut. At that point, the officer grabbed Brown by the neck, drew his gun and threatened to shoot the teenager. Johnson stated that the officer then fired his weapon, and he and Brown started running. It was then, that Johnson could see that his friend had been shot. Blood was rolling down his shirt.
Dorian Johnson said that he then ducked behind a car, while Brown kept running. "He shot again, and once my friend felt that shot, he turned around and put his hands in the air, and he started to get down." Brown stopped, turned with his hands up and said ''I don’t have a gun, stop shooting!'' But the officer still approached with his weapon drawn and fired several more shots.
Ferguson residents are demanding answers. They especially want to know "why the officer who shot Brown has not been named and charged with murder."
Reminiscent of the 2012 shooting of 17 year old Trayvon Martin in Stanford, Florida, the killing of Brown has uncovered deep rooted racial and economic lines in the community.
Missouri Governor, Jay Nixon has called for calmness as the community has been in an uproar between police officers and the residents. Unfortunately, violence, vandalism, more shootings, looting and arrests have continued.
"We stand together tonight, reeling from what feels like an old wound torn open afresh," Nixon said. "A wound that hadn't quite healed right in the first place, and now the pain is just as searing as when the injury first occurred."
In a news conference, Michael Brown's father, Michael Brown Sr., requested that the community "come together and do this right - no violence."
President Barack Obama also requested that everyone calm down, saying that people must comfort each other "in a way that heals, not in a way that wounds."
The Ferguson Police Department said that they have not released the name of the officer involved in the shooting, because the investigation is still ongoing, and that the officer has not been charged with a crime. If and when the officer is charged, his name will then be released.
Ferguson Police Chief Tom Jackson stated, "If we come out and say, 'It was this officer,' then he immediately becomes a target." "We're taking the threats seriously."
It is important to remember that yet again, another mother has lost a teenage black son. Michael Brown's mother said that her oldest born son was a good, non-violent kid that was never in trouble. He was a recent graduate of nearby Normandy High School and was going to begin classes at Vatterott College this week.
We keep hearing these stories over and over again. African American Male Youth being gunned down by inner city police officers. Why? These young men were unarmed.
Police officers who I respect immensely have a tough job to do-no doubt. I am well aware that they are constantly faced with challenges that most of us can only imagine. Believe me I get it, at the end of the day, they just want to make it safely home to their families. I believe that police officers have good intentions and just want to protect and serve the people. However, though their job is stressful, and yes even sometimes thankless, they still have a responsibility not rush to judgement.
More importantly, this generalization that seems to be growing among some departments, that every young black man is a criminal, and potentially violent & dangerous is frightening. It is as though black youth, specifically, African American males are being seen as someone to be guarded against, someone to be feared.
Listen, I won't pretend that I have any answers to the problem. However, I think that law enforcement must begin to understand that there is a problem in some inner cities. African American communities value their policeman and policewoman just like other communities. They need and want police offices to be present and visible, in a real way. But they don't want their sons and daughters to fear them.
Here in Los Angeles the Police Department and the community have come a long way, since the 1991 beating of Rodney King by Police, which resulted in a historical riot. Community Policing is key.
The LAPD Website states:
The Police Department strongly embraces the philosophy of Community Policing in all its daily operations and functions. Community Policing is based upon a partnership between the police and the community whereby the police and the community share responsibility for identifying, reducing, eliminating and preventing problems that impact community safety and order. By working together, the police and the community can reduce the fear and incidence of crime and improve the quality of life in neighborhoods citywide. In this effort, the community and police work as partners to identify and prioritize problems of crime and disorder and share the responsibility for the development and implementation of proactive problem-solving strategies to address identified issues. The strategies used prove success because they mobilize the efforts and resources of the police, the community and local government.
Maybe other departments could use L.A. as a model to begin the healing.