Twenty-year-old Jeffrey Williams was charged Sunday with shooting two police officers watching over a demonstration outside the Ferguson Police Department.
Williams had attended a protest there earlier that night, but told investigators he was not targeting the officers, authorities said.
The two officers sustained critical, but non-life-threatening injuries in the shooting; one officer was shot in the cheek just under his right eye while the other was hit in the shoulder, but the bullet passed through him.
St. Louis County Prosecutor Robert McCulloch said Williams told authorities he was firing at someone with whom he was in a dispute.
“We’re not sure we completely buy that part of it,” McCulloch said, adding that there might have been other people in a vehicle Williams is accused of firing from.
Williams is being charged with two counts of first-degree assault, one count of firing a weapon from a vehicle, and three counts of armed criminal action. McCulloch said the investigation is ongoing.
The police officers were shot early Thursday as a late-night demonstration began to break up following the resignation of Ferguson Police Chief Tom Jackson in the wake of a Justice Department report that found widespread racial bias in the police department.
Jackson’s resignation is the latest fallout from the Justice Department report, which exposed problems in the city’s policing tactics and faulted Ferguson’s officers for seeing residents as “sources of revenue,” a practice that federal investigators said disproportionately targeted African-Americans.
The investigators also found evidence of racist jokes being sent around by Ferguson police and court officials.
Junior Miguel Cortez said, “All of the racism lately is unbelievable. It was just the anniversary of the Selma march last week and now we find out all of these things about the police in Ferguson targeting the African-Americans, it’s disgusting.”
Ferguson City Manager John Shaw stepped down Tuesday. The report mentions both Jackson and Shaw by name.
Two police officers resigned last week and the city’s top court clerk was fired in connection with racist emails, city spokesman Jeff Small said on Friday.
However, there has always been a sense of racial tensions in Ferguson.
The shooting was just the latest incident between law enforcement and the protestors in Ferguson since the death of unarmed African-American teenager Michael Brown in August 2014.
Seven months after Brown was shot and killed by white police officer Darren Wilson, there are still angry protests and a national debate about race and law enforcement.
Ferguson’s court clerk was meanwhile fired over emails that were full of racism.
Junior Mark Rodriguez said, “How is it that after the horrible tragedy of Michael Brown being shot, these people can still be this racist? It must be the way they were raised.”
However, there are a few people taking Williams’ actions in a calm and collected manner, and who they are is surprising.
After the two officers were shot, Brown’s family issued a statement condemning the “senseless” shooting, saying, “We reject any kind of violence directed toward members of law enforcement. It cannot and will not be tolerated.
“We specifically denounce the actions of stand-alone agitators who unsuccessfully attempt to derail the otherwise peaceful and non-violent movement that has emerged throughout this nation to confront police brutality and to forward the cause of equality under the law for all,” the family added.
Do you think that all of the racial tensions will soon have a solution?