St. Louis Rams
Tavon Austin, Jared Cook and Chris Givens of the St. Louis Rams pay homage to Mike Brown by holding their hands up during their pre-game introductionGetty

Police have criticised members of the US football team St Louis Rams for their "hands up" tribute to Michael Brown before their game against Oakland Raiders.

Five Rams players - Tavon Austin, Jared Cook, Chris Givens, Kenny Britt and Stedman Bailey - came onto the pitch with their hands in the air as a protest gesture relating to the 18-year-old, who was shot by Officer Darren Wilson in the St Louis suburb of Ferguson on 9 August.

The "hands up don't shoot" pose was used by protesters in the weeks of unrest following the 18-year-old's death, after eyewitnesses claim to have seen Brown surrendering before Wilson shot him.

A grand jury ruled Wilson will not face criminal charges for killing Brown as evidence ruled in the officer's favour and declared there is "no probable cause exists".

St Louis County prosecuting attorney Bob McCulloch said some witnesses recanted their statements, after initially saying Brown had his hands in the air as Wilson fired, and "several witnesses" said Brown did not raise his arms at all.

The St Louis Police Officers Association(SLPOA) has now condemned the actions of the team's players.

A (SLPOA) spokesperson said: "The St. Louis Police Officers Association is profoundly disappointed with the members of the St. Louis Rams football team who chose to ignore the mountains of evidence released from the St. Louis County Grand Jury this week and engage in a display that police officers around the nation found tasteless, offensive and inflammatory.

"The [hands up] gesture has become synonymous with assertions that Michael Brown was innocent of any wrongdoing and attempting to surrender peacefully when Wilson, according to some now-discredited witnesses, gunned him down in cold blood.

"SLPOA Business Manager Jeff Roorda said, "now that the evidence is in and Officer Wilson's account has been verified by physical and ballistic evidence as well as eye-witness testimony, which led the grand jury to conclude that no probable cause existed that Wilson engaged in any wrongdoing, it is unthinkable that hometown athletes would so publicly perpetuate a narrative that has been disproven over-and-over again."

The SLPOA is also demanding the payers involved in the "hands up" tribute be disciplined and the Rams and NFL deliver a "very public apology".

Wilson has since resigned from the force over fears his fellow colleagues would have been hurt and hopes his decision would "allow the community to heal".

"I'm resigning of my own free will. I'm not willing to let someone else get hurt because of me," said.