ID of officer who killed teen festering issue
FERGUSON, Mo. – The police chief of a St. Louis suburb rocked by racial unrest since a white police officer shot an unarmed black teenager to death said Wednesday he won’t be pressured into publicly identifying the officer despite mounting demands from clergy, protesters and even hackers.
Ferguson Police Chief Thomas Jackson, who has been the public face of the city torn by Saturday’s death of 18-year-old Michael Brown, told reporters the St. Louis County investigation of the shooting could take weeks to complete. In the meantime, he said, his department welcomes Justice Department training on racial relations in the suburb, where two-thirds of the 21,000 residents are black while all but three of the police force’s 53 officers are white.
“Unfortunately, an undertow (of racial unrest) has bubbled to the surface,” said Jackson. “Race relations is the top priority right now.”
The mystery of the officer’s identity has fanned the discord, with Jackson arguing that revealing that detail could bring retribution to the officer whose life since Saturday has been countlessly threatened.
But civil rights activists and the attorney for Brown’s family, all pressing for calm amid nights of unrest since Brown’s death, counter that knowing the officer’s name may help the area to heal, allowing the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and others to dig into the officer’s background for any prior brutality.