More violence and new eyewitness reports follow deadly shooting of teen

Posted at 3:09 AM, Aug 14, 2014
and last updated 2014-08-14 03:09:19-04

FERGUSON, Mo. (CNN) — Two women who say they saw a police officer shoot teen Michael Brown dead told their stories to the public on Wednesday, while, after sunset, Ferguson, Missouri, once more took on the appearance of a police state.

On Saturday, Tiffany Mitchell drove to Ferguson to pick up an employee for work just in time to see Brown tussling at the window of a police vehicle.

She and the employee, Piaget Crenshaw, told CNN’s Don Lemon late Wednesday about Brown’s last moments. Their accounts corroborate a previous witness’ account.

Crenshaw later shot cell phone video of the aftermath, which CNN has obtained from affiliate KMOV.

After Mitchell called Piaget Crenshaw to let her know she had arrived, Crenshaw looked out the window, spotting Brown and the officer. It looked like they were arm wrestling, she said.

Both women, who have given their statements to St. Louis County police, watched from two separate vantage points. But neither of them saw Brown enter the vehicle, as police have said he did.

“It looked as if Michael was pushing off and the cop was trying to pull him in,” Mitchell said.

The teen broke free, and the officer got out of the vehicle in pursuit, the women said.

“I saw the police chase him … down the street and shoot him down,” Crenshaw said. Brown ran about 20 feet.

“Michael jerks his body, as if he’s been hit,” Mitchell said.

Then he faced the officer and put his hands in the air, but the officer kept firing, both women said. He sank to the pavement.

After that, Crenshaw hit record on her cell phone. News of the killing spread fast through the neighborhood, and Brown’s uncle walked up to the body to see if it was really his nephew, Crenshaw said.

The video shows police directing him back behind police tape.

State of unrest

Wednesday night lit up with spewing tear gas canisters near a gas station that has turned into a gathering point of rowdy protests after dark. The Quik Trip is still charred and battered from a looting rampage earlier in the week.

News photographers took snaps of young men lighting Molotov cocktails. And a CNN crew found spent crowd control stun grenades lying in the street.

A tear gas canister landed directly in front of the live television reporting position of Al Jazeera America; the crew ran, leaving its equipment behind. Then an officer later approached the camera and pointed it at the ground, CNN affiliate KSDK reported.

Police officers confronted people heading for the protest scene, raising their guns at them and yelling for them to turn and go back, according to the CNN crew on the scene.

As protesters scattered from the thick wafts of tear gas, which rose above the trees, officers in riot gear marched slowly in their direction to clear the area.

Detentions and arrests

After the night’s clashes, Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon announced he will cancel previous plans and visit Ferguson on Thursday for the second time since the shooting.

And police detained a St. Louis alderman, Antonio French, who has posted a continuous stream of protest video to social media.

Earlier in the day, police detained and released two journalists covering the shooting and the unrest.

Police have asked protesters to restrict their gatherings to daylight hours, after violence has broken out repeatedly after nightfall. Protests during the day have been peaceful.

Protests on Sunday and Monday ended with clashes with police and looting. Police have made over 45 arrests after Brown’s shooting, KMOV reported.

Officer not named

Police have said Brown died in a dangerous struggle after trying to grab the officer’s weapon, but witnesses say it seemed a brazen act of aggression by the officer on Saturday and that Brown was unarmed and not threatening.

On Wednesday, Ferguson Police Chief Thomas Jackson told CNN that the officer had been hit and suffered swelling on the side of his face. He was taken to a hospital and released the same day, Jackson said.

Five days have passed since Brown’s killing, and the public still does not know the name of the person who pulled the trigger.

There have been cries of a cover-up.

“That doesn’t give the community confidence. That doesn’t make it transparent,” attorney Benjamin Crump told reporters.

Crump was one of the attorneys who represented the family of Trayvon Martin, the teenager who was killed in a 2012 altercation with Florida man George Zimmerman.

But Mayor James W. Knowles said police have received death threats against the officer and his family. They want to prevent further violence, he said.

Hackers have gone after his personal information and worked people up against members of government and the police, he said.

Civil rights

Federal civil rights investigators and the FBI are carrying out their own inquiries into the controversial case. In the town of 21,000, there’s a history of distrust between the predominantly black community and the largely white police force.

“Race relations is a top priority right now and, as I said, I’m working with the Department of Justice to improve that,” Jackson told reporters Wednesday.

Only three of the city’s 53 officers are African-American, and Jackson said he is working to change that. About two thirds of the residents of Ferguson are African American, most of the rest are Caucasian.

Dorian Johnson, who said he saw the shooting, told CNN on Tuesday that the officer who opened fire is white.

Brown wanted to pursue an education and was keen on staying out of trouble, his mother said. He was to start classes at a local technical college this semester.