|Police officers in Ferguson, Missouri during a protest held early Thursday morning that saw two officers shot. (Photo compliments of Getty Images).|
|Slain Ferguson, Missouri teen Michael Brown|
|Former Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson|
FERGUSON, Missouri- Two White police officers were shot Thursday morning
while policing a protest in Ferguson, Missouri outside of the police station, both of them released hours later from an area hospital with non-threatening injuries.
A 41-year-old officer was shot in the right shoulder, and an officer, 32, was reportedly shot in the right cheek, just below the eye that was allegedly grazed by the bullet. Both where reportedly wearing bullet proof vests, and riot gear with eye shields.
Police did not immediately name the two shooting victims.
The suspected gunman, Jeffrey Williams, 20, has been arrested and charged with two counts of aggravated assault. Police have said that Williams allegedly admitted to the shooting and allegedly said that he fired shots from his car and did not intend to shoot the officers.
Williams is Black and has allegedly participated in Ferguson protests over the past year.
Ferguson police have been relieved of policing protests in the city, and state and county police have been brought in to patrol the area.
The shooting episode follows a scathing report released earlier this month by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) that found a pattern of racial bias and routine racial slurs by police against Ferguson's largely Black community, and the resignation last week of Ferguson Police Chief Tom Jackson, who is White.
Protesters had gathered late Wednesday night following the controversy around the police chief's resignation and demonstrated into early Thursday morning, at least until the two policemen at issue were shot.
Also at issue is a refusal by U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to bring any federal charges based upon Michael Brown's shooting death by police.
Holder called the suspected gunman, "a damn punk."
Only three of the city's 54 police officers were Black when Brown was killed last year, though the city is roughly 67 percent Black.
President Obama said that the suspected gunman or gunmen "are criminals and need to be arrested."
THE NOVEMBER GRAND JURY DECISION THAT SHIELDED MICHAEL BROWN'S KILLER, FORMER FERGUSON POLICE OFFICER DARREN WILSON, FROM CRIMINAL CHARGES IN THE SHOOTING DEATH
A largely White St. Louis County grand jury unanimously refused last November to issue an indictment on state criminal charges against then Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson, who shot and killed unarmed Black teen Michael Brown on August 9 of 2014 following an altercation. Brown's family had hoped that the DOJ would bring federal charges, but it did not.
Wilson has since resigned from the largely White Ferguson police force, and three officers were fired this month for making racial slurs against Blacks by interoffice email.
The grand jury at issue was chosen by a White judge.
"They determined that no probable cause exist to return an indictment," said St Louis County Prosecutor Robert McCullouch in a public statement as hundreds of protesters, last November, and others, waited outside of the Ferguson Police Department for the disappointing news.
The National Guard and Ferguson police in riot gear were nearby, hoping to quell any violent outbursts around the controversial grand jury decision. But as the night progressed, riots broke out, and the tension between police and the community remains, even months later.
After the grand jury decision was announced gun shots were fired and some protesters immediately began throwing bottles at police, and breaking out windows, and they put fire to police cruisers and several local businesses, some of them burned to the ground.
A few incidents of looting occurred.
More than 80 people were arrested.
Police responded with tear gas.
McCullouch did admit to reporters that some of the witnesses, all of them at issue of whom are Black, did testify before the grand jury that Brown did raise his hands to surrender and was still shot by Wilson. But he would not answer when asked if surrendering with one's hands up should not result in a police killing, though he admitted that some laws might need to be changed as a result of the Brown tragedy.
Racial tensions continue to mount.
St Louis County, which includes the city of Ferguson, has roughly a million people and is 24 percent Black, U.S. census reports reveal.(www.clevelandurbannews.com) / (www.kathywraycolemanonlinenewsblog.com)