Updated: 10.10 pm
POLICE IN FERGUSON, Missouri have revealed the identity of the officer who shot and killed unarmed black 18-year-old Michael Brown.
The revelation comes after six days of racially-charged protests, arrests and an extraordinarily heavy police presence in the suburb of St. Louis.
Local police chief Thomas Jackson named Darren Wilson, a six-year veteran of the Ferguson police department, at a news conference this afternoon.
The department’s refusal to identify the officer for almost a week after the fatal shooting, had angered protesters in the St. Louis suburb and across the United States.
In a further revelation, Jackson said Brown had been suspected of stealing cigars and pushing a convenience store worker earlier on the day he was shot dead by Wilson.
However, Jackson later added that Wilson did not know Michael Brown was a suspect in that alleged incident at the time that he shot Brown.
Rather, the police chief said Brown and his friend Dorian Johnson were stopped ”because they were walking down the middle of the street blocking traffic.”
Jackson concluded that the “contact” between Wilson and Brown was not related to the the robbery.
Ferguson police have released CCTV footage of the earlier incident, as well as parts of the incident report filed.
Source: Ferguson Police Dept
According to the police reports, Brown and Johnson, were suspected of taking a box of cigars from a store in Ferguson that morning.
Jackson said Wilson, along with other officers, was called to the area after a 911 call reporting a “strong-arm” robbery just before noon.
He said a dispatcher gave a description of the robbery suspect, and Wilson, who had been assisting on another call, was sent to investigate.
Dorian Johnson has told media very different story.
He has said he and Brown were walking in the street when an officer ordered them out of the street, then grabbed his friend’s neck and tried to pull him into the car before brandishing his weapon and firing.
He said Brown started to run and the officer pursued him, firing multiple times.
One witness live-tweeted the shooting from inside his home, reporting in real time that Brown was indeed running before being shot.
The witness also said the officer in question shot Brown twice, before unleashing a “barrage” of around five shots.
Family of victim ‘beyond outraged’
The family of Michael Brown have reacted angrily to what they called a “devious” attempted “character assassination” by Ferguson police.
There is nothing based on the facts that have been placed before us that can justify the execution style murder of their child by this police officer as he held his hands up, which is the universal sign of surrender.
Their statement, issued through the family’s lawyers:
Source: Ryan J. Reilly/Twitter
Source: AP/Press Association Images
Brown’s death has sparked several days of clashes with furious protesters in the city.
Tensions boiled over after a candlelight vigil Sunday night, as looters smashed and burned businesses in the neighborhood, where police have repeatedly fired tear gas and smoke bombs.
But on Thursday, county police in riot gear and armored tanks gave way to state troopers walking side-by-side with thousands of peaceful protesters.
The dramatic shift came after Gov. Jay Nixon assigned oversight of the protests to the state Highway Patrol, stripping that authority from the St. Louis County Police Department.
The more tolerant response came as President Barack Obama spoke publicly for the first time about the shooting — and the subsequent violence that shocked the nation and threatened to tear apart Ferguson, a town of 21,000 that is nearly 70 percent black and patrolled by a nearly all-white police force.
Obama said there was “no excuse” for violence either against the police or by officers against peaceful protesters.
Includes additional reporting from Associated Press.