memphis shooting riot
© Jim Weber/Daily Memphian
Shelby County Sheriff's Department deputies brace against the crowd as protesters take to the streets of Frayser in anger against the shooting of a youth identified by family members as Brandon Webber by U.S. Marshals earlier Wednesday evening
A chaotic scene erupted in the Frayser area Wednesday evening following an officer-involved shooting, with heavily armed police facing off against an angry, rock-throwing crowd.


Comment: Notice how, right up front, the protesters are presented as a baying, dangerous mob. That may well turn out to be an accurate description, but people don't generally 'go ballistic' for no good reason...


Rain and tear gas had largely dispersed the crowd by 11 p.m. as officers on horseback patrolled, but not until after agitated onlookers and police clashed in a volatile situation that left several officers injured by flying debris, according to Memphis Police Deputy Director Mike Ryall. None were injured seriously.


Comment: CNN reports 24 injured officers, though just 6 required hospitalization.


Officials from the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation took over the scene since a law enforcement officer was involved in a shooting. Before dawn Thursday, Keli McAlister, TBI's public information officer for this region, issued a statement saying the situation began about 7 p.m. in the 2700 block of Durham Street.
memphis riot
© Mark Weber/Daily Memphian
Protesters take to the streets of Frayser in anger against the shooting of a youth identified by family members as Brandon Webber by U.S. Marshals earlier in the evening. Dozens of protesters clashed with police, throwing stones and tree limbs until police forces broke up the angry crowd with tear gas.
According the TBI, officers with the U.S. Marshals-Gulf Coast Regional Fugitive Task Force were searching for a suspect "wanted on multiple warrants." They spotted the man getting into a vehicle outside of a residence.

"While attempting to stop the individual," the TBI release stated, "he reportedly rammed his vehicle into the officers' vehicles multiple times before exiting with a weapon. The officers fired striking and killing the individual. No officers were injured."

The TBI also didn't release the name of the suspect . However, family members identified the shooting victim as Brandon Webber, 21. His cousin, Demetrick Skinner, said Webber was fatally shot and that as many as 20 shots were fired at him.

Webber's aunt, Yolanda Holmes, said police claim he was shooting at an officer but the family was trying to confirm details. Holmes said Webber was a Frayser High School graduate.


Comment: Again, that may well have been the case, but how is anyone to objectively investigate given that the situation instantly went from zero to a hundred??


County Commissioner Tami Sawyer, who was at the scene, retweeted a tweet also identifying the victim as Webber.

The tense situation came against a backdrop of heightened emotions locally and nationally over police shootings.
Memphis riot
© Jim Weber / Daily Memphian
Angry residents taunt law enforcement as protesters take to the streets in the wake of the shooting of a youth identified by family members as Brandon Webber by U.S. Marshals earlier Wednesday.
MPD officers were not involved in the shooting, however. The department was called in to assist the Gulf Coast Regional Task Force and the U.S. Marshal Service.

The TBI didn't release any details on the incident until 3:30 a.m. - about five hours after McAlister arrived at the scene, and more than eight hours after the shooting.

In the interim, the intense scene became chaotic with some of those gathered at the scene throwing rocks, swinging chairs into MPD squad cars and breaking windows in police vehicles.


More than 30 law enforcement units converged on the scene as the angry crowds gathered. Cars sped toward officers before swerving off, and a police helicopter flew overhead shining lights on the street. Police used loudspeakers telling the crowd to disperse.

"This is crazy," Skinner said.

Ryall said the area of Overton Crossing and Argonne Street, where people were throwing rocks, was considered a crime scene. Crime scene officers were on their way about 10:30 p.m. to investigate.

Police began using tear gas to disperse the crowd shortly before 10 p.m. Several media members were hit by the tear gas or shoved by the angry crowds.
memphis riot
© Daily Memphian
A squad car damaged in the protests.
State Rep. Antonio Parkinson, a Memphis Democrat whose district includes Frayser, posted a statement on Instagram.

"Our thoughts and prayers go out to all involved in the incident in Frayser," Parkinson said. "The Frayser community is comprised of good, hard working people who love their community.

"The community wants answers into tonight's incident. We are asking for calm and restraint by all and complete transparency in the investigation of tonight's officer involved shooting."

McAlister of the TBI said in her early morning statement that investigators continued to conduct interviews and gather evidence on the officer-involved shooting.

"As in any case, TBI's investigative findings will be shared with the District Attorney General throughout the process for her review," the agency said.