FERGUSON (CBS St. Louis/AP) — Tensions are rising in Ferguson as new details about the fatal shooting of Michael Brown emerge.
The New York Times reported Friday evening that Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson told authorities that Michael Brown reached for the gun during a scuffle. The officer’s account to authorities did not explain why he fired at Brown multiple times after emerging from his vehicle, according to the newspaper.
The Times reported that the account of Wilson’s version of events came from government officials briefed on the federal civil rights investigation into the Aug. 9 shooting that sparked racial unrest and weeks of protests, some of which turned violent. Wilson is white and Brown black.
Following The Times report, two protesters were arrested Monday by the St. Louis County Police, including Missouri State Sen. Jamilah Nasheed, while protesting outside the Ferguson Police Department.
KMOV-TV reports Nasheed had a gun on her at the time of her arrest.
As the fate of Wilson lies in the hand of a grand jury, people are beginning to worry what might happen next.
“Everybody is planning for whatever the grand jury decides,” Amy Hunter, YWCA’s racial justice director, told CNN. “Certainly there are lots of us that are planning peaceful protests should it not be indicted. Certainly there are other people that have other ideas at hand.”
One protester warned to CNN about what would happen if Wilson is set free.
“If there is not an indictment, excuse my French, all hell is going to break loose,” the protester revealed.
Wilson confronted Brown and a friend while they were walking back to Brown’s home from a convenience store on Aug. 9. After the shooting, Brown died at the scene. Some witnesses have told authorities and news media that Brown had his hands raised when Wilson approached with his weapon and fired repeatedly. An independent autopsy commissioned by the family says that Brown was shot at least six times, including twice in the head.
Benjamin Crump, the attorney for Brown’s parents, told The Associated Press on Saturday that the officer’s account of what happened was “self-serving.”
“The officer is going to say whatever he has to say to try to justify killing an unarmed teenager,” Crump said. “And certainly, his statement should not be taken above independent eye witnesses who are completely unbiased when he has every reason to be biased.”
Crump also said that because there were reports that Michael Brown was shot while he ran away, it “doesn’t matter” what happened in the car beforehand.
“He was definitely not in fear of threat when Michael Brown was running away from him,” Crump said.
The Times reported that Wilson has told investigators that he was trying to leave his SUV when Brown pushed him back in and that once inside the vehicle the two began to fight. Wilson told authorities that Brown punched and scratched him repeatedly, leaving swelling on his face and cuts on his neck, the Times reported.
Wilson, who had been patrolling Ferguson for nearly three years, was placed on leave after the shooting. A state grand jury is considering charges against him.
Wilson is being represented by James P. Towey, general counsel for the Missouri Fraternal Order of Police and a former general counsel for the St. Louis Police Officers Association. Towey didn’t immediately respond to an email Saturday seeking comment, and his work phone system wasn’t accepting voicemail.
The Justice Department is investigating the Ferguson Police Department for possible civil rights violations, including whether officers there use excessive force and engage in discriminatory practices. Two-thirds of Ferguson’s 21,000 residents are black but only three of its more than 50 police officers are black.
Brian Schellman, a spokesman for St. Louis County Police, which has taken control of Ferguson security, said in an email that the department doesn’t comment on active investigations.