FERGUSON, Mo. -- Authorities in this restive suburb of St. Louis Friday began telling their version of the events surrounding the fatal shooting of an unarmed black teenager by a white police officer, but the halting, contradictory nature of the account revived popular anger here and brought criticism from other law enforcement agencies.
Nearly a week after 18-year-old Michael Brown's death sparked days of protests, police identified the officer who killed him as Darren Wilson, who has six years of service with no disciplinary record. But they provided virtually no information about him, instead focusing on linking Brown to a convenience store robbery that occurred just before the shooting.
At a tense early-morning news conference, Ferguson Police Chief Thomas Jackson said Brown had been the prime suspect in that robbery -- in which several boxes of cigars were stolen -- and that his description was broadcast over police frequencies just before his encounter with Wilson. Police released security camera photos showing a person they identified as Brown towering over and menacing the store clerk.
Despite the implication that Brown had been stopped because of the robbery, Jackson later in the day said that the confrontation "was not related to the robbery" at all. Instead, he said, Brown was stopped because he and a friend were walking in the street.
Hours later, Jackson returned again to the robbery theme, telling the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that the officer saw cigars in Brown's hand and realized he might be the robber.
The confusion not only did little to calm tensions roiling this community of 21,000, but appeared to further inflame them. Scattered protests continued, and the police actions drew a rebuke from Brown's family, which accused Jackson of deliberately besmirching the teen's character.
"The family feels that was strategic," Anthony Gray, a lawyer for Brown's family, said during a news conference Friday. "They feel it was aimed at denigrating their son."
There were also signs Friday of a rift among state and local authorities involved in the case. The law enforcement official newly in charge of security in Ferguson appeared to question the decision to name Brown as a robbery suspect. "I would have liked to have been consulted," Missouri State Highway Patrol Capt. Ron Johnson said.
Wilson, 28, the officer who shot Brown, has been placed on leave.
The sequence of events in the shooting is still unclear. According to a friend who says he witnessed the encounter, Brown was walking along a Ferguson street when a police officer in a car ordered him to get on the sidewalk. Brown had his hands in the air to show he was unarmed when the officer shot him multiple times, the friend said.
Police said that Brown attacked the officer in his car and tried to grab his gun.