Authorization

Black man killed by federal agents in Memphis was a suspect in shooting

A young black man shot dead by federal agents as they sought to arrest him in Memphis, triggering overnight clashes between police and protesters, was wanted as a suspect in the shooting of a man in Mississippi earlier this month, authorities said on Thursday.
At least two dozen police officers were injured in the street unrest in Memphis after Brandon Webber, 20, was killed on Wednesday night by members of a federal fugitive task force seeking him on warrants stemming from the June 3 incident in Hernando, a Mississippi city just south of Memphis.
The tensions in Memphis, with hundreds of protesters taking to the streets overnight, evoked memories of a string of sometimes violent protests against police brutality that broke out in other cities in recent years. Those clashes, notably many days of protests after an unarmed black man was killed in Ferguson, Missouri, in 2014, gave rise to the Black Lives Matter movement.
Authorities in Mississippi said Webber was suspected of having shot a man five times point blank and leaving him for dead after going for a test drive of a car that the victim was offering for sale.
A second suspect in the shooting remains at large.
Webber was shot after he rammed his car into vehicles driven by federal agents at about 7 p.m. on Wednesday in the working-class neighborhood of Frayser, according to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI).
He was "reportedly" carrying a weapon when he got out of his vehicle, the bureau said, without elaborating. A later statement from the U.S. Marshals Service made no reference to a weapon and a spokesman declined to say whether Webber had one.
Police appealed for calm on Thursday while the shooting is being investigated.
As news of Webber's death spread, an angry crowd estimated at about 300 people gathered, and some threw rocks and spat at the police, Mayor Jim Strickland said in a statement.
Police strapped on protective riot gear and tried to control the crowd by spraying chemicals, according to officials and media reports. Video footage of the protests showed one man bashing a police car with a chair. The mayor said "multiple police cars" were vandalized.
At least 24 officers and deputies were injured, with six hospitalized with mostly minor injuries, the mayor said. Two journalists also were injured. The injuries were mostly minor, police said, and the crowd eventually dispersed.
The tense scene raised the possibility of more disturbances in the predominantly black city.
Webber was arrested previously for possessing marijuana and drug paraphernalia, and driving with an expired or suspended license and an improperly displayed registration plate, public records show. It was not immediately clear if he was ever prosecuted.
Shortly before being shot, Webber posted a live video on Facebook that showed him in a car, rapping and apparently smoking marijuana. In the video, he looked out the window and said he saw police. With a laugh, he looked directly into the camera and said what sounded like the officers would "have to kill me."
Webber was the eldest of eight sons, his father, Sonny Webber, said in an interview on Thursday. He had two young children of his own, a 2-year-old boy and a newborn daughter, and was expecting a second daughter soon.
Sonny Webber said his son had sold marijuana but was not a drug dealer.
"He wasn't a bad guy," his father said. "He wasn't even living long enough to be a bad guy."
Leslie Earhart, a TBI spokeswoman, declined to identify the type of weapon Webber was reported to have had and whether Webber's father and neighbors were correct when they said Webber had been shot between 16 and 20 times.
Friends flooded Webber's Facebook profile with messages of love, grief, disbelief and outrage at the authorities responsible for his death.


© (c) Copyright Thomson Reuters 2019.
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