UK & World News

  • 17 August 2014, 15:25

Missouri Shooting: Tear Gas Fired At Crowd

Police have fired smoke bombs and tear gas at protesters defying a curfew imposed in a suburb where a black teenager was shot dead by an officer.

Police in Ferguson, Missouri, were forced to admit using tear gas after initially claiming only smoke was used to disperse the crowd - many of whom complained of a burning sensation in their throats.

One man was taken to hospital and police said he "may lose his life" after he was hit by a bullet fired by someone in the crowd.

Captain Ronald Johnson said officers initially responded to concerns about people who had broken into a barbecue restaurant and taken up position on a roof overlooking police. 

He said tear gas was first used after shots were fired, including at a police car, as officers tried to get to the gun victim.

Speaking at a news conference in the early hours of the morning, he said use of the gas was a "proper response to maintain officer safety and public safety".

Seven people were arrested for failing to disperse, he said.

Hundreds of peaceful protesters had left before the midnight to 5am deadline took effect on Sunday morning.

Among them was Saint Louis-born billionaire Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey, who kept his 2.6 million followers updated with posts and Vines from Ferguson.

But the remaining protesters - chanting "No justice! No curfew!" - refused to leave the area.

As five armoured tactical vehicles approached the crowd, officers said through a loudspeaker: "You are in violation of a state-imposed curfew. You must disperse immediately. Failure to comply may result in arrest."

Officers put on gas masks as some of the crowd shouted back: "We have the right to assemble peacefully."

Moments later, police began firing smoke canisters into the crowd of protesters.

Speaking from the scene in Ferguson, Sky News US Correspondent Greg Milam said: "There was a hard core of about 150-200 who had said they would defy the curfew and did.

"At the time that curfew came into effect there were long lines of police with riot equipment - shields, helmets, masks and batons.

"They stepped back, allowing SWAT teams to move in with armoured vehicles."

Michael Brown, 18, was unarmed and it has been claimed he was trying to surrender before he was shot dead by white officer Darren Wilson on August 9.

His death sparked protests across the US and scenes of armoured tanks and officers in riot gear firing tear gas on crowds in Ferguson were broadcast around the world last week as tensions in the St Louis suburb boiled over.

Missouri Governor Jay Nixon imposed a state of emergency and curfew on Saturday after looters targeted a shop which police say Michael Brown may have robbed before he was killed.

The release of CCTV footage of an individual police said they believed was the 18-year-old walking out of the convenience store with a box of cigars and assaulting the owner had fuelled the anger felt by his family and protesters in the area.

It is understood Officer Wilson stopped Mr Brown for jaywalking before opening fire and had no knowledge the teen was a robbery suspect.

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