Michael Brown shooting: Police officers in Ferguson wear body cameras following conflicting accounts of 18-year-old's death

Police officers wore the cameras at a march on Saturday in memory of the unarmed black 18-year-old shot by a white police officer last month

Police officers in Ferguson, Missouri, have started wearing body cameras, following weeks of unrest in the city after an unarmed black teenager was shot by a white police officer.

Sharply differing accounts of the shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown by police officer Darren Wilson on 9 August only fuelled the tension in the St Louis suburb, and revived calls for the use of body cameras to record police interactions.

The death sparked nearly three weeks of both peaceful and turbulent protests in Ferguson, and brought race relations in the US to international attention.

Prior to the shooting, Officer Wilson stopped Mr Brown and his friend from walking in the middle of the street. Eye-witnesses claim Mr Brown raised his hands to surrender before Wilson shot him multiple times in the head and chest. But the police allege that a struggle between the two led to the shooting.

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The use of cameras is supported by both the law enforcement agencies and the American Civil Liberties Union, but opponents argue the cameras are an invasion of privacy and deter people from approaching the police with sensitive information.

The cameras were first deployed on Saturday when hundreds of people gathered in the city to march to remember Mr Brown. The police presences was muted – in contrast to earlier clashes between the authorities and demonstrators.

Rally attendees, including children, wore shirts bearing the ubiquitous slogan “Hands up, don't shoot,” and were led by Mr Brown’s mother, Lesley McSpadden.

Ferguson police chief Tom Jackson said the cameras, donated by two video surveillance companies, were well received by officers.

 

“They are really enjoying them,” police chief Tom Jackson told the St Louis Post-Dispatch after around 50 body cameras were deployed on Saturday.

“They are trying to get used to using them,” he said

A grand jury in St Louis County has begun a hearing on the killing, and will decide whether Mr Wilson should be charged with a crime. The US Justice Department has launched an investigation into the shooting.

Additional reporting by Reuters

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