What started as a protest over the death of a Memphis man devolved into chaos Wednesday night after demonstrators threw bricks at police and vandalized squad cars, officials said.
At least 24 officers and deputies were injured in the melee, Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland said Thursday morning. Six of them were taken to a hospital.
The turmoil came after US marshals shot and killed a man Wednesday night in the north Memphis neighborhood of Frayser, officials said.
Marshals were trying to stop the man, who was wanted on multiple warrants, outside a home as the man was getting into a vehicle, the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation said.
The man “reportedly rammed his vehicle into the officers’ vehicles multiple times before exiting with a weapon,” the bureau said. “The officers fired striking and killing the individual. No officers were injured.”
Shelby County Commissioner Tami Sawyer identified the slain man as Brandon Webber. Sawyer tweeted that she went to the Frayser neighborhood because “this is my district. I went because I stand with my people. People are hurting.”
“Don’t judge Frayser without asking a community how it feels to mourn their youth over and over again,” the commissioner tweeted.
News of Webber’s death spread quickly as protesters hurled rocks at police, tore down a concrete wall outside a business and smashed the windows of squad cars and a fire station.
In addition to the 24 wounded officers, two journalists were also injured, the mayor said.
“Let me be clear — the aggression shown toward our officers and deputies tonight was unwarranted,” Strickland said.
But he lauded the composure of the officers as they became targets of attack.
“I was proud of our first responders,” the mayor said. “I’m impressed by their professionalism and incredible restraint as they endured concrete rocks being thrown at them and people spitting at them.”