Ferguson Police Chief Thomas Jackson made the announcement after initially declining to the release the name, saying the officer had received numerous death threats. The officer has been on administrative leave since the shooting Saturday of 18-year-old Michael Brown, whose death has sparked several days of clashes with furious protesters.
But he said that a dispatcher gave a description of the robbery suspect, and Wilson, who had been assisting on another call, was sent to investigate. Wilson, a six-year veteran of the police department, encountered Brown just after 12:01 p.m., with a second officer arriving three minutes later.
Wilson was treated for injuries after the shooting, Jackson said.
Police have said Brown was shot after an officer encountered him and another man on the street. They say one of the men pushed the officer into his squad car, then physically assaulted him in the vehicle and struggled with the officer over the officer's weapon. At least one shot was fired inside the car before the struggle spilled onto the street, where Brown was shot multiple times, according to police.
Witnesses have said the officer fired on Brown as he tried to run away.
The shooting prompted nearly a week of clashes between protesters and county police in riot gear and armored. The atmosphere shifted dramatically Thursday night after Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon assigned oversight of the protests to the state Highway Patrol, stripping local police from the St. Louis County Police Department of their authority.
"All they did was look at us and shoot tear gas," said Pedro Smith, 41, who has participated in the nightly protests. "This is totally different. Now we're being treated with respect."
Obama said there was "no excuse" for violence either against the police or by officers against peaceful protesters.
Nixon's promise to ease the deep racial tensions was swiftly put to the test as demonstrators gathered again Thursday evening in the neighborhood where looters had smashed and burned businesses on Sunday and where police had repeatedly fired tear gas and smoke bombs.
But the latest protests had a light, almost jubilant atmosphere among the racially mixed crowd, more akin to a parade or block party. The streets were filled with music, free food and even laughter. When darkness fell -the point at which previous protests have grown tense - no uniformed officers were in sight outside the burned-out QuikTrip convenience store that had become a flashpoint for standoffs between police and protesters.
"You can feel it. You can see it," protester Cleo Willis said of the change. "Now it's up to us to ride that feeling."
"We're here to serve and protect," Johnson said. "We're not here to instill fear."
Residents in Ferguson have complained about the police response that began soon after Brown's shooting with the use of dogs for crowd control - a tactic that for some evoked civil-rights protests from a half-century ago. The county police had taken over the investigation of Brown's shooting and security at the request of the smaller city.
Nixon vowed that "Ferguson will not be defined as a community that was torn apart by violence but will be known as a community that pulled together to overcome it." The governor was joined at a news conference by the white mayor of St. Louis and the region's four state representatives and the county executive, all of whom are black.
The city and county remain under criticism, though, for refusing to release the name of the officer who shot Brown, citing threats against that officer and others. The hacker group Anonymous on Thursday released a name purported to be that of the officer, but the Ferguson police chief said the name was incorrect.
Like last year's Trayvon Martin shooting, social media brought international attention to the tragedy. Ferguson spawned a proliferation of hashtags and has been a dominant subject on Twitter, Facebook and other sites. Journalists and protesters offered real-time pictures, videos and updates, and the world responded.
Police have said Brown was shot after an officer encountered him and another man on the street. They say one of the men pushed the officer into his squad car, then physically assaulted him in the vehicle and struggled with the officer over the officer's weapon. At least one shot was fired inside the car. The struggle then spilled onto the street, where Brown was shot multiple times.
Dorian Johnson, who says he was with Brown, has told a much different story. He has said the officer ordered them out of the street, then grabbed his friend's neck and tried to pull him into the car before brandishing his weapon and firing. He says Brown started to run and the officer pursued him, firing multiple times.
In St. Louis, Brown's mother appeared briefly Thursday night at an anti-brutality gathering near the city's Gateway Arch, urging through a relative for peace to prevail. The observance was among many staged nationwide, each with a minute of silence for Brown and others affected by alleged police brutality.
Ferguson chief names officer who fatally shot Michael Brown
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