This post has been updated.
The Ferguson, Mo., police officer who shot Michael Brown Saturday did not initially stop Brown because he was a suspect in a convenience store robbery that took place minutes before, the city police chief said Friday.
“The robbery does not relate to the initial contact between the officer (Darren Wilson) and Michael Brown,” Ferguson police chief Thomas Jackson said at a Friday afternoon press conference. “The initial contact between the officer and Mr. Brown was not related to the robbery.”
The police released information earlier Friday that Brown, 18, had been the “primary suspect” for shoplifting cigars from a convenience store minutes prior to his fatal confrontation with Wilson. Jackson had said earlier in the day that a description of the suspect had been circulated prior to Brown’s shooting. But the police chief sought to clarify later Friday that Wilson did not stop Brown because of the robbery.
Jackson emphasized repeatedly that the robbery had “nothing to do with the stop.” Wilson stopped Brown and his friend Dorian Johnson “because they were walking down the middle of the street, blocking traffic,” Jackson said.
Reporters repeatedly asked Jackson why the police had released the report about the robbery if it was unrelated to the shooting. Brown’s family has accused the city police of “trying to assassinate the character of their son,” and the police have declined to release various information related to the shooting itself, citing the ongoing investigation by St. Louis County police.
Jackson said that he released the robbery report and the accompanying surveillance footage of the alleged robbery “because the press asked for it.” He also said that stolen merchandise had been found on Brown after the shooting.
He was asked specifically about the Brown family’s statement that they were “beyond outraged” by the information released by the police.
“My response to that is my heart goes out to the family,” he said. “We have given you everything that we have now and everything that we can give you.”
UPDATE: 6:15 p.m. ET.
Jackson told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that Wilson, who he said knew that cigars had allegedly been stolen from the convenience store, saw cigars in Brown’s hand during their encounter. Wilson then realized that Brown might be the suspect, Jackson said.