Ferguson, Mo., Police Chief Thomas Jackson at a press conference early Friday morning released the name of the officer who was involved in the fatal shooting of unarmed teen Michael Brown.
The officer has been identified as Darren Wilson, a six-year veteran with no reported blemishes on his record.
Jackson also released packets of information showing surveillance from a strong-armed robbery that happened about 15 minutes before the fatal encounter that ended with Brown dead. He did not say Brown was a suspect in the robbery, but information in the packets clearly suggest that Brown and his companion, Dorin Johnson. were suspected of being involved.
Meanwhile, a new eyewitness to the fatal police has come forward. According to Tiffany Mitchell, who spoke to Don Lemon on “CNN Tonight,” Brown was trying to pull away from the officer. She said the officer was pulling him into the car when a shot was fired from inside the car. Mitchell said she saw Brown break free and start running and that "the kid's body jerked as if he was hit from behind and he turned around and he puts his hands up like this, and the cop continued to fire, until he just dropped down to the ground and his face smacked the concrete."
Mitchell told Lemon that she heard at least five or six shots. Her account comes days after Johnson, Brown’s companion, gave his account of the incident. At that time, neither the robbery nor Brown and Johnson’s suspected involvement had been made public.
For days, the police chief had been adamant about protecting the identity of the police officer involved in the shooting, claiming that the department had received death threats. The identity of the officer comes after days of protest and civil rights leaders urging that his name be made public.
Jackson noted that Wilson was in the field attending to a sick person when another call came in about a strong-arm robbery.
On Thursday, Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon announced that he was handing the protest-policing reins over to Missouri Highway Patrol Capt. Ronald S. Johnson, an African American who was raised in Ferguson, Mo., and is vowing to take a different approach.
"It means a lot to me personally that we break this cycle of violence," Johnson told reporters at a news conference, the New York Daily News notes.
Ferguson has been widely criticized for its militarized police action in handling peaceful protests after Brown was fatally shot by Wilson on Saturday. Violent images showing clashes between police and protesters, officers in full riot gear carrying high-powered automatic weapons, and tear-gas smoke-filled nights have caused many to compare Ferguson to that of a war zone.
"What's gone on here over the last few days is not what Missouri’s about, it's not what Ferguson’s about," the governor said during his press conference, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports.
"[It’s] a Missouri community, but lately it’s looked a little bit more like a war zone, and that’s unacceptable."
So now Johnson and his fellow state troopers have been asked to set a different tone than the one left by the Ferguson and St. Louis County police.
"I understand the anger and fear that the citizens of Ferguson are feeling, and our police officers will respect both of those," Johnson told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
So far things are looking up. According to the Post-Dispatch, Johnson joined protesters during a peaceful march and engaged citizens in conversation. He also told a crowd of a reported 1,000 demonstrators who gathered Thursday night that "the gas masks are off. Won’t come back."
On Thursday, the Daily News notes that the ACLU has "filed a suit demanding that the St. Louis County police release the incident report of Saturday’s shooting."
The Rev. Al Sharpton, who has been in Ferguson, but has spent the majority of his time with Brown's family, has a rally planned for Sunday, and according to the Daily News, has asked that the Justice Department to pay close attention to the police and the way that they are handling the aftermath of events.
"Even if we disagree, this climate is not good for anyone and is dangerous for everyone," Sharpton said in a statement, viewed by the newspaper.
The Daily News notes that the Brown family has asked that the Justice Department monitor a second autopsy of Brown's body.
(This account reflects reports from Stephen A. Crockett Jr. at The Root.)