Spokesmen for the family of an unarmed Missouri teen fatally shot by police last week said the release of surveillance stills by Ferguson Police was an act of “character assassination” against the 18-year-old.
Michael Brown was reportedly a suspect in a robbery involving a stolen box of cigarillos from a Ferguson convenience store, captured in surveillance stills released by the department.
But Police Chief Thomas Jackson later told reporters that the officer who confronted and shot Brown was at least initially unaware he was a suspect in the robbery. Instead, the teen was stopped because he “walking down the street blocking traffic.”
The revelation prompted one reporter to ask: then why did you release it all?
“Because you asked for it,” Jackson said, gesturing to reporters. “I held it for as long as I could.”
Jackson later told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that the officer, Darren Wilson, saw the cigars in Brown’s hand and thought he may be the suspect.
“This is basically smoke and mirrors to divert from attention from what really occurred,” Brown’s cousin Eric Davis told reporters today.
“Whatever took place there had nothing to do with the individual getting down on his hands and knees, raising his hands in the air and saying ‘don’t shoot,’” Davis continued, mimicking the behavior for reporters. “I can hear my cousin’s voice now, as I say it.”
“Whatever happened in that store had nothing to do with that officer’s mindset and his decision to kill Mike,” family attorney Anthony Gray said. “Any portrayal of (Brown like that) is a sideshow. We all have to focus on the conduct of the officer at that time.”
Gray also encouraged the family’s supporters to continue their peaceful protests in Ferguson and around the country.
“I have been asked to make the plea to not take the bait from anybody that is trying to character assassinate Mike,” he said. “Do not take that and react negatively to people in the public, don’t take that and begin to riot. Don’t take that and begin to loot. This family is not for that and they’ve made that plain and clear.”
You can watch the full press conference below: