TIME Crime

Friend Says Cops Shot Unarmed Teen Despite Pleas to Stop

APTOPIX Police Shooting Missouri
Jeff Roberson—AP A makeshift memorial sits in the middle of the street where 18-year-old Michael Brown was shot and killed by police

Circumstances of shooting remain hotly disputed

The friend of an unarmed St. Louis-area teen who was shot dead by police last week says in a new interview that an officer held onto the victim until the moment the trigger was pulled and continued shooting despite pleas to stop.

“I could see so vividly what was going on because I was so close,” Dorian Johnson, 22, told MSNBC of the shooting of Michael Brown.

The circumstances surrounding Brown’s killing remain hotly disputed and the incident has stoked outrage and protests in the town of Ferguson, Mo. Johnson said he and Brown were walking in the street when an officer told the two to get “f—k on the sidewalk.” When they didn’t, Johnson said, the officer pulled his car into reverse, opened the door into Brown’s body, and then grabbed his throat.

“Mike was trying to get away from being choked,” Johnson said. “They’re not wrestling so much as his arm went from his throat to now clenched on his shirt. It’s like tug of war. He’s trying to pull him in. He’s pulling away, that’s when I heard, ‘I’m gonna shoot you.’ … The whole time [the officer] was holding my friend until the gun went off.”

Johnson said Brown was shot again while running away before turning, arms up, to ask the officer to stop since he was unarmed. Johnson said the last thing Brown said to him was “Keep running, bro!'”

St. Louis County police chief Jon Belmar has said Brown was shot following a “struggle over the officer’s weapon.”


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