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Deadly police shooting in Memphis leads to anger, unrest

Protests erupt over Memphis police shooting
Protests erupt in Memphis over deadly officer-involved shooting 00:27

Memphis, Tenn. -- Armed officers and an angry crowd faced off late Wednesday night after reports that at least one man was fatally shot by authorities in a working-class north Memphis neighborhood. Memphis police said people in the crowd threw rocks and bricks, with 25 officers suffering mostly minor injuries.

Officers cordoned off several blocks near the scene. By 11 p.m., officers had used tear gas and most of the crowd dispersed, police director Michael Rallings said at a Thursday morning news conference. Three people were arrested.

CBS Memphis affiliate WREG-TV described the scene as "chaos." It said video showed one man using a chair to hit a police cruiser, and one of its reporters was knocked to the ground by a man.

WREG reporters tweeted from the scene:

Officers on horseback patrolled the area, and lines of police cars with flashing blue lights were parked along the street. An ambulance could be seen at the outer edge of the scene. A helicopter flew overhead as police cars trickled away.

The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation said its agents were on the scene of a shooting involving a regional anti-crime task force.

TBI spokesperson Keli McAlister said early Thursday that multiple officers with the United States Marshals Service Gulf Coast Regional Fugitive Task Force went to a Frayser home to look for a suspect with numerous felony warrants. They spotted him getting into a vehicle and tried to stop him, but he rammed police vehicles several times before exiting with a weapon, McAlister said. Police then opened fire, hitting the man, who died at the scene. McAlister didn't say how many marshals fired or how many times the man was shot.

Memphis police said none of its officers was involved in the shooting.

One local official identified the victim as Brandon Webber and said he was shot several times in his family's front yard. Family members confirmed to the Daily Memphian that 21-year-old Webber died.

In identifying Webber on Twitter early Thursday, Shelby County Commissioner and mayoral candidate Tami Sawyer said "Every life lost should matter...every single one. How many times will this be OK? It cannot continue to be."

Memphis police officers were called in to help with crowd control as word of the shooting spread on social media. As more protesters showed up, more Memphis officers and Shelby County sheriff's deputies arrived at the scene. The situation then escalated, and officers donned protective riot gear.

The TBI is called in to investigate police-involved shootings by district attorneys in Shelby and other counties in the state. TBI investigators then give their report to the district attorney, who will decide whether to pursue charges against officers involved.

Rallings implored residents to wait until the TBI finishes its investigation before spreading possible misinformation about the shooting. "I need everyone to stay calm," he said. "While police have been supportive of past protests," Rallings added, "we will not allow any acts of violence."

Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland said on Facebook he was "proud of our first responders. I'm impressed by their professionalism and incredible restraint as they endured concrete rocks being thrown at them and people spitting at them."

In addition to the injured officers, Strickland said, "At least two journalists were injured. Multiple police cars were vandalized. A concrete wall outside a business was torn down. The windows were broken out at Fire Station 31.

"Let me be clear—the aggression shown towards our officers and deputies tonight was unwarranted." 

Passion Anderson, a 34-year old student, brought her 13-year-old son to the scene early Thursday. She grew up in Memphis and recently moved back to the Frayser neighborhood, a mostly low- to middle-income area with modest single-family homes and apartments. She said she worried about her son's safety every day in Memphis as it struggles with crime and gang activity.

"I just want him to see this, know what's going on, to be conscious," she said. "I fear for him all the time."

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