Missouri names officer who shot unarmed teen

The officer who shot and killed Michael Brown has been identified as Darren Wilson.

Demonstrators protest the killing of teenager Michael Brown in St. Louis on 12 August. Picture: AFP.

FERGUSON - Authorities will work to ensure the safety of the police officer who shot and killed an unarmed black teenager in Ferguson, Missouri Governor Jay Nixon said Friday, as police met protester demands and named the officer.

The officer who shot and killed 18-year-old Michael Brown on Saturday afternoon outside an apartment complex in Ferguson is Darren Wilson, who has served six years on the force with a good record, Ferguson Police Chief Tom Jackson said at a news conference Friday.

Jackson said there had been a report of a robbery in the area just before Wilson encountered Brown walking down the street near an apartment complex.

The deadly interaction was swift: Jackson said Wilson encountered Brown at 12:01 pm and had shot him by 12:04 pm.

Police had held back naming Wilson so far because of fears he could be harmed amid a volatile and sometimes-violent week of angry protests that have followed Brown's death.

Authorities have said Wilson was placed on paid administrative leave after the shooting.

Nixon told ABC News Friday the officer would be protected against any possible retaliation.

"I think that will be a step on the road to healing here and justice," Nixon told ABC News.

The move to identify the officer also comes after the American Civil Liberties Union sued St. Louis County and the county police Thursday seeking copies of initial police reports of the shooting.

Civil rights leaders from around the country, community activists and protesters have demanded the officer be identified and be held accountable for the killing.

Indeed, thousands of protesters demanding justice for Brown's killing have clashed with riot gear-clad local police night after night, though there was a marked shift Thursday to a calmer tone after the governor put an African-American Missouri Highway Patrol Captain in charge of security for the area.

Rather than confront protesters with riot gear, rubber bullets and tear gas, a small number of police mingled with the crowd Thursday night, urging a healing to the racially charged situation.

The protests have cast a spotlight on racial tensions in greater St. Louis, where civil rights groups have complained in the past that police have racially profiled blacks, arrested a disproportionate number of them and had racist hiring practices.

Two thirds of the town's population of 21,000 are black, while just 3 of its 53-strong police force are black.

The police version of the Saturday shooting of Brown differs markedly from witness accounts. Police have said that Brown reached into the police car and struggled with the officer who shot and killed him. They said Wilson was injured during the incident and was treated in a hospital for swelling on the side of his face.

But some witnesses have said Brown was trying to get away from the officer, who had tried to grab him after telling him to move off the street where he was walking and onto a sidewalk. Witness said Brown held up his hands in a sign of surrender but was shot several times in the street outside the apartment where he was walking to visit his grandmother.