ST. LOUIS — Officers arrested at least nine people and deployed tear gas amid protests in St. Louis over the death of a black 18-year-old who was fatally shot by police after he pointed a gun at them, the city’s police chief said.
Chief Sam Dotson said at a news conference late Wednesday that a group of protesters who had blocked an intersection threw glass bottles and bricks at officers and refused orders to clear the roadway. Police initially deployed smoke canisters in hopes of dispersing the crowd but later resorted to tear gas, Dotson said. Those arrested face charges of impeding the flow of traffic and resisting arrest, he said. A vacant building and at least one car were burned.
The demonstration was one of several Wednesday after the killing of 18-year-old Mansur Ball-Bey of St. Louis. It comes with tensions already high in the area after violence erupted during several events marking the anniversary of the death of Michael Brown, the 18-year-old fatally shot last year by a police officer in nearby Ferguson.
Two police officers serving a search warrant Wednesday afternoon at a home in a crime-troubled section of the city’s north side encountered two suspects, one of which was Ball-Bey, the chief said. The suspects were fleeing the home as Ball-Bey, who was black, turned and pointed a handgun at the officers, who shot him, Dotson said. He died at the scene.
Both officers, who are white, were unharmed, according to a police report.
Police are searching for the second suspect, who they said is believed to be in his mid- to late teens.
Dotson said four guns, including the handgun wielded by the dead suspect, and crack cocaine were recovered at or near the home, which last year yielded illegal guns during a police search.
A man and woman who were also inside the home were arrested, Dotson said.
Roughly 150 people gathered Wednesday afternoon near the scene of the shooting, questioning the use of deadly force. Some chanted “Black Lives Matter,” a mantra used after Brown’s death.
As police removed their yellow tape that cordoned off the scene, dozens of people converged on the home’s front yard, many chanting insults and gesturing obscenely at officers. Several onlookers surrounded individual officers, yelling at them.
“Another youth down by the hands of police,” Dex Dockett, 42, who lives nearby, told a reporter. “What could have been done different to de-escalate rather than escalate? They (police) come in with an us-against-them mentality. You’ve got to have the right kind of cops to engage in these types of neighbourhoods.”