FERGUSON, Mo. — At a news conference Sunday, St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar said the fatal shooting of a black teenager came after an altercation with police.
On Saturday, 18-year-old Michael Brown was killed by police in Ferguson, Mo., a suburb of St. Louis.
Belmar said the incident started when Brown physically assaulted the police officer, pushing him into the officer's vehicle. He said there was a struggle inside the car, and at some point Brown reached for the officer's weapon. One shot was fired inside the vehicle.
Brown suffered fatal gunshot wounds outside of the vehicle, approximately 35 feet from the car. Belmar said multiple shell casings were found at the scene, and that Brown was shot more than once, but an exact number of shots fired has not yet been determined. All the shell casings came from the officer's weapon.
Belmar confirmed Brown was unarmed at the time of the shooting.
The medical examiner is conducting an investigation to determine how many times Brown was shot. It will take several weeks before toxicology results are available.
After the shooting, Belmar said Ferguson Chief Tom Jackson called him and asked the county to take over the investigation.
Belmar said when the investigation is complete the findings will be turned over to the St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney's Office. They will determine if charges should be filed.
On Saturday afternoon the St. Louis County NAACP called for the FBI to investigate the shooting "to protect the integrity of the investigation." Belmar said the FBI could become involved later, and that it's not unusual for the FBI to become involved in cases like this.
John Gaskin, with the St. Louis County NAACP, alluded to the 2012 racially-charged shooting of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin by a Florida neighborhood watch organizer who was subsequently acquitted of murder charges, as well as the death of a New York man from a police chokehold after he was confronted for selling individual cigarettes on the street.
"With the recent events of a young man killed by the police in New York City and with Trayvon Martin and with all the other African-American young men that have been killed by police officers … this is a dire concern to the NAACP, especially our local organization," Gaskin said.
The officer who shot Brown has been with the Ferguson Police Department for about six years and he wasn't aware of other issues involving the officer. He is on paid administrative leave. The officer was interviewed Saturday, and will be interviewed more extensively Sunday. Jackson told Belmar the officer will undergo two psychological evaluations if it is determined he can return to active duty.
Outside the Ferguson Police Department's headquarters, protesters raised their hands in the air and chanted "Don't shoot."
After the shooting Saturday, angry residents gathered in the streets, igniting shouts of "kill the police" during a confrontation that lasted several hours.
The shooting occurred around noon Saturday at the Canfield Green Apartment complex.
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported several distraught relatives were outside talking with neighbors, including Brown's mother, Lesley McSpadden, and stepfather, Louis Head. Head held a sign that read: "Ferguson police just executed my unarmed son!!!"
Officer Brian Schellman, spokesman for the St. Louis County Police Department, said "a couple hundred" people came out of area apartment buildings after Brown was killed.