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Man Shot By Police In Ferguson After Day Of Demonstrations

By aaroncynic in News on Aug 10, 2015 5:00PM

Ferguson police shot and critically wounded a man Sunday night after a day of protests and vigils marking the 1-year anniversary of the death of Michael Brown.

Four undercover plain clothes officers from the Missouri town fired on Tyrone Harris Jr., and 18-year old man, after he allegedly fired on them, according to authorities. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports the officers were allegedly tracking several people they had believed to be armed. They were not wearing body cameras. The man remains in critical condition Monday, according to authorities.

The incident came after several peaceful events took place marking the death of Brown, an 18-year old African-American man who was shot and killed last year by officer Darren Wilson. Brown’s death, one of many times white police officers have killed African-American civilians, sparked nationwide protests and movements, particularly the #BlackLivesMatter movement. Some 1,000 demonstrators marched silently down West Florissant Avenue to Greater St. Mark Family Church where hundreds attended a service afterward.

Police say Harris was part of a set of rival groups that were shooting at each other on the west side of West Florissant Avenue. According to the New York Times, the four detectives, who have since been placed on paid administrative leave, allegedly saw him running across a parking lot and were driving their unmarked SUV, interior lights flashing, towards Harris when he opened fire.

“They were criminals; they weren’t protesters,” said Chief Jon Belmar. “Protesters are the people out there talking about a way to effect change. We can’t afford to have this kind of violence, not only on a night like this, but any point in time if we’re going to move forward in the right direction.”

Some protest organizers and activists criticized the police, pointing to the events that led up to the shooting. Kayla Reed of the Organization for Black Struggle told Fox2Now that it was a “poor decision” for officers to be wearing plain clothes because it makes it more difficult for protesters to identify police, and was equally concerned about the lack of body cameras on the officers. In a statement released to the New York Times, Reed said:

“After a year of protest and conversation around police accountability, having plainclothes officers without body cameras and proper identification in the protest setting leaves us with only the officer’s account of the incident, which is clearly problematic."

In the aftermath of the shooting, several tense standoffs took place between police and protesters. CNN reports police called in tactical units and used riot shields and batons to push demonstrators back, and later reportedly used smoke grenades to disperse them. Three St. Louis County police officers were allegedly injured in the melee, and one journalist from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch was beaten and robbed, but not critically injured.