Michael Brown was 18 when he was killed on 9 August 2014 by a Ferguson police officer in a shooting that re-ignited a debate about American race relations. The unarmed black teenager was shot during a confrontation with white police officer officer Darren Wilson. Although some witnesses said that Brown had his hands up in surrender, both a St Louis County grand jury and the US Department of Justice cleared Wilson of wrongdoing.
Michael Brown, 18, was shot on 9 August 2014 in Ferguson by Darren Wilson, a 28-year-old police officer Clockwise from top left: Michael Brown's body lies on Canfield Drive; Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson's firearm; a bruise on Darren Wilson's cheek; Michael Brown's hat lies in the road at the scene of the shooting St Louis County Prosecutor's Office via Getty Images
Brown's death sparked months of sometimes violent protests both in Ferguson and around the United States following subsequent police killings of unarmed black men in several other cities. It also spurred the "Black Lives Matter" movement that has cast a spotlight on long-troubled relations between police and minority residents of many US cities. Many protesters demonstrated against his death with their arms in the air, chanting "hands up, don't shoot".
Heavily militarised police used tear gas, smoke grenades and armoured vehicles to control crowds during protests after Brown's death. The tactics drew criticism from the Justice Department, among others.
11 August 2014: Lesley McSpadden, mother of 18-year-old Michael Brown, is comforted by attorney Benjamin L Crump after being overcome with emotion during a press conference at Jennings Mason Temple Church of God In Christ in Jennings, Missouri Michael B Thomas/Getty Images 11 August 2014: A sign hangs from a tree near the spot where 18-year-old Michael Brown was shot by police Scott Olson/Getty Images 11 August 2014: Police officers force protesters from the business district of Ferguson into nearby neighbourhoods. Police responded with tear gas and rubber bullets as residents and their supporters protested against the shooting by police of Michael Brown, an unarmed black teenager Scott Olson/Getty Images 13 August 2014: A police officer standing watch as demonstrators protest against the death of Michael Brown conceals his/her identity Scott Olson/Getty Images 13 August 2014: A demonstrator protesting the against shooting death of teenager Michael Brown carries what appears to be a Molotov cocktail in Ferguson Scott Olson/Getty Images 13 August 2014: A woman walks from a corner after police fired tear gas towards her on the fourth day of unrest after following the shooting death of teenager Michael Brown in Ferguson Scott Olson/Getty Images 13 August 2014: A protester throws a smoke bomb back towards police officers in Ferguson. Police fired several rounds of tear gas to disperse protesters on the fourth night of demonstrations over the fatal shooting of unarmed black teenager Michael Brown by a police officer Mario Anzuoni/Reuters 15 August 2014: A woman demonstrates against the shooting of Michael Brown and the resulting police response to protests in Ferguson Lucas Jackson/Reuters 15 August 2014: Demonstrators gather along West Florissant Avenue in Ferguson to protest against the shooting of Michael Brown. Protesters raised their hands and chanted "Hands up, don't shoot" to draw attention to reports that stated Brown's hands were raised when he was shot Scott Olson/Getty Images 15 August 2014: A protester holds a sign with the hashtag #handsupdontshoot as others put their hands up, during a demonstration against the shooting of Michael Brown Lucas Jackson/Reuters 15 August 2014: Demonstrators raise their hands along West Florissant Avenue in Ferguson to protest against the shooting and death of Michael Brown Scott Olson/Getty Images 16 August 2014: Demonstrators protesting against the shooting death of Michael Brown raise their hands and hold signs as heavy rain falls in Ferguson Joe Raedle/Getty Images 16 August 2014: Masked individuals carry items out of a boarded-up liquor store in Ferguson, during ongoing demonstrations against the shooting of Michael Brown Lucas Jackson/Reuters
Accounts of Brown's slaying differ sharply. According to police, Wilson reported that Brown reached into the policeman's cruiser when Wilson approached him on the street, then grabbed for the officer's gun. A companion of Brown said the teenager was initially shot after the officer tried to grab him through the car window and again after Brown staggered back with his hands in the air. An independent autopsy arranged by Brown's family found he had been shot six times, including twice in the head.
This still image taken by a security camera on 9 August and presented to the media during a news conference by the Ferguson Police Department on 15 August shows Michael Brown shoving a store owner. Minutes before a police officer shot him dead, Michael Brown had become a suspect in the theft of cigars from a store. However, hours after the release of the report, police said that officer Darren Wilson had no idea 18-year-old Brown was a robbery suspect Ferguson Police Department/Reuters 17 August 2014: A woman dances during a service at the Greater St Mark Family Church in Ferguson as the community discusses reactions to the shooting of teenager Michael Brown Lucas Jackson/Reuters 16 August 2014: Protesters march and hold their fists aloft as they march in Ferguson. Missouri Governor Jay Nixon declared a state of emergency and imposed a curfew following a week-long series of racially charged protests and looting over the shooting of the unarmed black teenager by a white police officer Lucas Jackson/Reuters 17 August 2014: A demonstrator wears a makeshift headscarf with police tape around it during a protest at the killing of teenager Michael Brown in Ferguson Scott Olson/Getty Images 17 August 2014: Protesters raise their hands and dance in the rain in defiance of a midnight curfew meant to stem ongoing demonstrations in Ferguson. The group of protesters remained on the streets past the declared curfew, and police began to clear the streets in a tense standoff Lucas Jackson/Reuters 17 August 2014: A protester dresses as a police officer as riot police hurl tear gas and march on demonstrators in Ferguson Michael B Thomas/AFP 17 August 2014: Police wearing riot gear mass at their command centre in a shopping mall parking lot in Ferguson Scott Olson/Getty Images 17 August 2014: Police advance through clouds of tear gas and smoke toward demonstrators in Ferguson Scott Olson/Getty Images 17 August 2014: Tear gas rains down on a woman kneeling in the street with her hands in the air as police break up a demonstration over the killing of teenager Michael Brown Scott Olson/Getty Images 17 August 2014: A woman gets help as she tries to recover from tear gas fired by police towards demonstrators in Ferguson Scott Olson/Getty Images 17 August 2014: A man reacts after being overcome by tear gas used by police during a protest in Ferguson Joshua Lott/Getty Images 18 August 2014: Demonstrators march down West Florissant during a peaceful march in reaction to the shooting of Michael Brown. Missouri's governor lifted the curfew for the St Louis suburb as National Guard troops were called out after days of violent unrest Lucas Jackson/Reuters 18 August 2014: Brown family attorney Daryl Parks points on an autopsy diagram to the head wound that was likely fatal to Michael Brown, whose family paid for an independent autopsy which was carried out by Dr Michael Baden, former chief medical examiner for the City of New York Mark Kauzlarich/Reuters 18 August 2014: Police officers arrest a demonstrator with a 'Don't Shoot' sign Joe Raedle/Getty Images 18 August 2014: A police officer raises his weapon at a car speeding in his general direction as a vocal group of demonstrators with an upside-down American flag stands on the pavement Lucas Jackson/Reuters 18 August 2014: Demonstrators make their voices heard as they call for justice in the shooting death of Michael Brown by a Ferguson police officer Joe Raedle/Getty Images 18 August 2014: Demonstrators cover their faces as tear gas fills the air in Ferguson. Police used pepper spray, smoke, gas and flash grenades during another night of violent protests Joe Raedle/Getty Images 18 August 2014: Demonstrators stand in the middle of West Florissant as they react to tear gas fired by police during ongoing protests Lucas Jackson/Reuters 18 August 2014: Police attempt to control demonstrators protesting against the killing of teenager Michael Brown in Ferguson Scott Olson/Getty Images 18 August 2014: Two demonstrators chat in front of a store's neon sign on West Florissant in Ferguson Lucas Jackson/Reuters 19 August 2014: Ferguson resident John West hands a rose to a police officer, showing his appreciation with help in clean-up efforts after a night of protests Mark Kauzlarich/Reuters 19 August 2014: Protesters take part in a peaceful protest down a street in Ferguson as police lowered their profile and refrained from using tear gas, to allow a more orderly night of protests in this St Louis suburb 10 days after the shooting of an unarmed black teenager Michael B Thomas/AFP 19 August 2014: A demonstrator raises his arms before police officers move in to arrest him in Ferguson Joe Raedle/Getty Images 19 August 2014: Police arrest a demonstrator protesting against the killing of teenager Michael Brown Scott Olson/Getty Images 19 August 2014: Heavily armed police watch as demonstrators protest against the killing of teenager Michael Brown Scott Olson/Getty Images 20 August 2014: A man carries a sign referring to the police shooting of an unarmed black teenager and the resulting protests in Ferguson Joshua Lott/AFP 20 August 2014: A man is doused with milk and sprayed with mist after being hit with an eye irritant sprayed by security forces trying to disperse demonstrators. Police in riot gear ordered dozens of lingering demonstrators to disperse, and charged into the crowd to make arrests as the relative calm dissolved Adrees Latif/Reuters
Brown died after being shot multiple times by Darren Wilson after a confrontation as Brown and a friend walked through their neighbourhood. Images of the teen's body, which lay in the street for more than four hours, and an aftermath in which police officials defended Wilson's actions and characterised Brown as a thug and a thief, enraged many in the black community.
25 August 2014: Michael Brown Sr yells out as his son's coffin is lowered into the ground at St Peter's Cemetery in St Louis. Family, politicians and activists gathered for the funeral following weeks of unrest with violent protests making headlines around the world focusing attention on racial issues in the United States Richard Perry/Reuters 25 August 2014: Lesley McSpadden, Michael Brown's mother, is held by an unidentified woman as she approaches her son's coffin during his funeral at Friendly Temple Missionary Baptist Church in St Louis Getty Images 25 August 2014: A St Louis Cardinals baseball cap rests on top of Michael Brown's coffin inside Friendly Temple Missionary Baptist Church during his funeral Richard Perry/Reuters
The grand jury that reviewed the case found Wilson had broken no laws, but that decision provoked a second wave of rioting in Ferguson three months after Brown's death.
17 November 2014: A demonstrator stands in front of the Ferguson Police Department as Ferguson awaits a grand jury decision on whether to indict Darren Wilson, the white police officer who fatally shot Michael Brown Jim Young/Reuters 23 November 2014: Protesters, demanding the criminal indictment of a white police officer who shot dead an unarmed black teenager in August, sing and dance while marching peacefully through St Louis Adrees Latif/Reuters 23 November 2014: Demonstrators march peacefully through St Louis, stepping up pressure on a grand jury to indict a white police officer for shooting dead an unarmed black teenager Jewel Samad/AFP 24 November 2014: Properties are barricaded and boarded-up in Ferguson and near the Buzz Westfall Justice Centre in Clayton, Missouri, as the St Louis County grand jury reaches a decision on whether or not to charge Officer Darren Wilson in the shooting of Michael Brown Justin Sullivan/Getty Images, Jewel Samad/AFP
24 November 2014: Lesley McSpadden, mother of Michael Brown, is escorted away from the Ferguson police department after the announcement that the grand jury had decided not to indict the white police officer who shot her son Justin Sullivan/Getty Images 24 November 2014: The lights of emergency vehicles illuminate clouds of tear gas as police stand guard during rioting after a St Louis County grand jury declined to indict Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson in the shooting death of Michael Brown, an unarmed black teenager Aaron P Bernstein/Getty Images 24 November 2014: A man walks past a burning building during rioting after a grand jury voted not to indict a white officer in the August shooting death of an unarmed black teen Jim Young/Reuters 24 November 2014: A resident, lying shirtless, basks in the flames as another approaches the blazing skeleton of Juanita's Fashions R Boutique in Ferguson Adrees Latif/Reuters 25 November 2014: Members of the Ferguson Fire Department respond to a flare-up in a building that had been burned down. Aiming to head off new looting and rioting, Missouri's governor ordered National Guard reinforcements into the St Louis suburb of Ferguson following overnight violence ignited by the clearing of a white police officer in the fatal shooting of an unarmed black teenager Adrees Latif/Reuters 25 November 2014: A Ferguson firefighter surveys rubble at a strip mall that was set on fire following the grand jury announcement. At least 12 buildings were torched and more than 50 people were arrested during night-long rioting Scott Olson/Getty Images 25 November 2014: Police officers look over the site of a building that was burned down the previous night, after a grand jury cleared a white police officer in the fatal shooting of an unarmed black teenager, sparking a night of violent and racially charged rioting Jim Young/Reuters 25 November 2015: A protester holds her hands up in front of a police car in Ferguson, during a demonstration one day after violent protests and looting. Missouri Governor Jay Nixon told reporters that 2,200 National Guard troops were being deployed in the St Louis area – three times the 700 sent out the night before Jewel Samad/AFP 26 November 2014: National Guard troops, who were called up by the governor to help maintain order, help with security at the police command centre set up at a shopping mall in Ferguson Scott Olson/Getty Images 26 November 2014: Police stand guard under a 'Seasons Greetings' sign as protests engulf Ferguson. Over 2,000 Missouri national guardsmen were deployed a day after demonstrators caused extensive damage in Ferguson and surrounding areas following a St Louis County grand jury decision to not indict police officer Darren Wilson Aaron P Bernstein/Getty Images 28 November 2014: A demonstrator protesting against the shooting death of Michael Brown holds a sign near the entrance to a Walmart store in Ferguson on Black Friday Joshua Lott/Getty Images 3 December 2014: A man walks past a painted and boarded-up business in Ferguson Jim Young/Reuters
13 March 2015: Graffiti is sprayed on the remains of a business that was burned down during November rioting that broke out after residents learned that the police officer responsible for the killing of Michael Brown would not be charged with any crime. Few of the businesses destroyed in the rioting have reopened Scott Olson/Getty Images
family of Michael Brown has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the city of Ferguson. The civil lawsuit names the city of Ferguson, former Police Chief Thomas Jackson and former police officer Darren Wilson as defendants. The lawsuit alleges that Wilson destroyed evidence after he shot Brown on the street of the St Louis suburb last August, saying he washed blood off his hands and cleaned and bagged the gun used in the shooting.
23 April 2015: Brown family attorney, Benjamin L Crump speaks to the media along with Lesley McSpadden and Michael Brown Sr outside the St. Louis County Court Building as they announce a civil lawsuit over the death of their son Michael B Thomas/Getty Images