Dozens of officers injured during protest in Memphis after task force kills man

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Several law enforcement officers in Memphis were injured during a protest that began after federal officials killed a man they were attempting to arrest Wednesday, officials said.

A driver wanted on multiple felony warrants attempted to ram law enforcement vehicles when officers with a regional U.S. Marshals Service fugitive task force attempted to arrest him in Memphis’ Frayser community about 7 p.m., Tennessee Bureau of Investigation public information officer Keli McAlister said. The man, who has not been publicly identified, then got of the vehicle with a weapon, McAlister said.

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“The officers fired, striking and killing the individual,” McAlister said. No officers were injured in the incident, she said.

After the shooting, a crowd gathered to protest the shooting.

Memphis police officers, who were not involved in the shooting, were called to assist. Some in the crowd threw rocks and other objects at police, local media reported.

Shelby County Sheriff’s deputies brace against the crowd as protesters take to the streets of the Frayser community in anger against the shooting a youth by U.S. Marshals earlier in the evening, Wednesday, June 12, 2019, in Memphis, Tenn.Jim Weber / AP

Around 25 officers among all agencies that responded were injured, Memphis Police Director Michael Rallings said at a news conference, although he said most were minor injuries.

“The officers did an enormous job tonight showing restraint in a very volatile situation,” Rallings said. He said officers had to don protective gear as the crowd threw objects, and a “chemical agent” was used to disperse the crowd.

Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland said in a statement posted online early Thursday that six of the injured officers were taken to the hospital, and that at least two journalists were also injured. Memphis police said that several of its officers suffered minor injuries after rocks and bricks were thrown at them.

Memphis police said that three people were arrested in the violence.

The mayor said police cars were vandalized and windows were broken out at a fire station. “Let me be clear — the aggression shown toward our officers and deputies tonight was unwarranted,” Strickland said in the statement.

The shooting involved officers with the United States Marshals Service — Gulf Coast Regional Fugitive Task Force, the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, which is investigating the shooting, said in a statement.

Officers were seen in riot gear, and video of the scene showed a police car with a broken window, NBC affiliate WMC of Memphis reported.

A Memphis police officer looks over a damaged squad car after protesters took to the streets of the Frayser community in anger against the shooting a youth by U.S. Marshals earlier in the evening, Wednesday, June 12, 2019, in Memphis, Tenn.Mark Weber / AP

Some in the crowd dispersed amid rain around 10 p.m., The Commercial Appeal newspaper of Memphis reported.

Shelby County Commissioner Tami Sawyer said that about 300 people joined to protest the shooting. “Every life lost should matter…every single one. How many times will this be ok? It cannot continue to be,” she tweeted after going to the Frayser area.

The shooting occurred in a northern area of Memphis, according to the state investigation agency.

McAlister said the investigation into the officer-involved shooting is ongoing. Asked how many marshals opened fire, McAlister said that is part of the investigation but that multiple marshals were on the scene.

The police chief recognized those in the community who attempted to diffuse the situation.

“I do want to commend individuals that did not decide to commit acts of violence toward the police officers, that showed restraint — I know that there were many individuals in the crowd that tried to assist in keeping everyone calm,” Rallings said.

“My message tonight is that, is we should all wait and make sure we know exactly what happened before we spread misinformation or we jump to conclusions,” he said. He said the police department has been supportive of protests “but we will not allow any acts of violence, we will not allow destruction of property.”