Key Figures in the Ferguson, Missouri, Shooting – ABC News

Michael Brown

A look at some of the key figures in the case of Michael Brown, the black 18-year-old who was fatally shot by a white police officer in August ? a death that stirred weeks of violent unrest in the St. Louis suburb.

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MICHAEL BROWN

Michael Brown graduated from Normandy High School last spring and was preparing to attend Vatterott College, where he planned to study to become a heating and air conditioning technician. Friends say he eventually wanted to go into business for himself.

Relatives and friends described Brown, who grew up in a tough neighborhood, as a quiet, gentle giant who stood around 6-foot-3 and weighed nearly 300 pounds. He was unarmed on the day he was killed.

Police said later that he was a suspect in the “strong-arm” robbery of a convenience store moments before the shooting. A family attorney said Brown may have made mistakes but did not deserve to die.

“He was just looking forward to getting on with his life,” said his grandmother, Desuirea Harris. “He was on his way.”

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OFFICER DARREN WILSON

Some descriptions of Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson are similar to those of Brown. Both men have been described as gentle and quiet. Police Chief Thomas Jackson said Wilson had no previous complaints against him and a good career record.

“He’s devastated,” the chief said after naming Wilson as the shooter back in August. “He never intended for this to happen. He is, and has been, an excellent police officer.”

Wilson began his career in nearby Jennings before moving to the Ferguson job several years ago. He was placed on paid administrative leave after the shooting.

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POLICE CHIEF THOMAS JACKSON

Thomas Jackson was a police veteran long before he came to Ferguson. He spent more than 30 years with the St. Louis County Police Department, at one point serving as commander of a drug task force. Before that he was a SWAT team supervisor, undercover detective and hostage negotiator.

He heads a department with 53 officers, only three of them black, in a town where nearly 70 percent of the 21,000 residents are African-American.

“I’m constantly trying to recruit African-Americans and other minorities,” Jackson has said. “But it’s an uphill battle. The minority makeup of this police department is not where I want it to be.”

Some of Jackson’s actions in the wake of the shooting have drawn criticism, including his decision to announce that Brown was a suspect in the convenience-store robbery, a move that stirred anger in Ferguson’s black community.

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ST. LOUIS COUNTY PROSECUTOR BOB MCCULLOCH

Since his election in 1991, Bob McCulloch has been the top prosecutor in St. Louis County. A Democrat with a reputation for being tough on crime, he comes from a law-enforcement family. He was 12 years old when his father, a police officer, was shot and killed by a black suspect in 1964.

Some critics, including St. Louis County Executive Charlie Dooley, questioned McCulloch’s ability to be objective in the Ferguson case. They wondered if losing his father in such circumstances creates a built-in bias.

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MISSOURI STATE HIGHWAY PATROL CAPT. RON JOHNSON

During a 27-year career, Capt. Ron Johnson climbed from patrolman to chief of the 11-county division of the Missouri State Highway Patrol that includes St. Louis and its suburbs.

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