US & Canada

Profile: Ferguson shooting victim Michael Brown

Michael Brown, the 18 year old who was shot dead in Ferguson, Missouri Image copyright Other - Facebook
Image caption Michael Brown was due to start college two days before he was killed

To some people who knew him, Michael Brown was an ordinary US teenager with much to like about him.

Court documents, however, portray him as a suspect in a convenience store robbery who assaulted the police officer who killed him.

These two profiles have framed the debate around his death on 9 August, when the black 18-year-old was shot dead by the white officer during an incident on a street in Ferguson, Missouri.

That shooting inflamed passions in Ferguson and across America, stirring up America's debate over race and justice.

School-leaver

In the weeks before his death, Mr Brown's life certainly seemed ordinary.

He had just left secondary school and was planning to study to become a heating and cooling technician.

In his spare time, he played video games, saw friends and spent time with his family.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Protests broke out across the US after the grand jury's decision

On his Facebook page he posted photos of himself with his baby niece.

His friends and family knew the 6ft 4in (1.9 m) teenager as Big Mike or Mike Mike - so big, friends say, they named him twice.

Neighbours at the Northwinds apartment complex where he lived remember him as respectful. "If his grandma said 'go upstairs', he went," Kevin Seltzer told the Los Angeles Times. "He didn't bother people."

Despite his size, Mr Brown is remembered as a gentle giant. By all accounts he shied away from confrontation, using his bulk to intimidate people from fighting with him.

Shortly before his death, at the urging of his grandmother with whom he lived and his uncle the Rev Charles Ewing, he embraced Christianity.

Six shots

When a New York Times profile described Mr Brown as being "no angel", the comment sparked anger across social media, with people insisting he had only behaved as most teenagers do.

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Media captionCCTV footage showing a man, alleged to be Mr Brown, during a robbery

Like many teenagers he smoked marijuana and drank alcohol.

Some of the amateur rapper's songs contained violent lyrics such as "my favourite part is when the bodies hit the ground".

And then on 9 August he allegedly stole a pack of cigarillos from a shop, pushing the store clerk into a display case when confronted.

Shortly after this incident, caught on CCTV, police officer Darren Wilson received an alert in his patrol car.

Stopping Mr Brown and his friend Dorian Johnson for walking in the middle of the road, the policeman grew suspicious that he had carried out the robbery.

Reports vary on the exact details but all say there was an altercation, Mr Wilson's gun was fired and the pair ran.

Image copyright Jeff Roberson
Image caption A preliminary autopsy report shows the bullet wounds on Michael Brown's body

Mr Wilson fired more shots, hitting the unarmed Mr Brown a total of six times in the head and right arm.

The body lay in the street for four hours in a pool of blood before it was removed.

On Monday a grand jury ruled that they would not charge Mr Wilson over the shooting.

Mr Brown had received his leaving certificate only eight days before his death and had been due to start college that Monday.

His mother, Lesley McSpadden, told reporters the family had never had the time to celebrate her son's school-leaving. Instead they had had to organise a funeral.