The American head of state promised to provide a full investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice into the case, which has triggered protests and arrests in the largely African-American town of Ferguson where police have not released the name of the officer who shot to death an unarmed black teenager.
“I know the events of the past few days have prompted strong passions, but … I urge everyone in Ferguson, Missouri, and across the country, to remember this young man through reflection and understanding,” President Obama said in a statement earlier in the day.
“Friends and family of 18-year-old Michael Brown planned a peaceful church vigil for Tuesday night and his father pleaded for an end to the violence that has followed the incident, while activists demanded authorities release the name of the officer involved,” reports Reuters.
Standing with supporters, including the Rev. Al Sharpton, Michael Brown Sr. said he wanted justice for his son but wanted it “the right way.”
“I need all of us to come together and do this right, the right way,” said Brown Sr., who was wearing a T-shirt showing his son’s baby picture. “No violence.”
Activists speaking to reporters in downtown St. Louis also called for federal authorities to take over the investigation after two nights of demonstrations and unrest.
The teenager was shot to death in the back of a police car on Saturday. The race of the officer, who is now on administrative leave, has not been revealed.
The FBI has opened a civil rights investigation into the racially charged case and St. Louis County also is investigating.
Local authorities say that the killed boy was shot in a struggle with a gun in the police car but they refuse to specify why Brown appeared in a police car. At least one shot was fired during the struggle and then the officer fired more shots before leaving the car, police said.
However, a witness revealed to the media that Brown had been putting his hands up to surrender when he was shot down.
“There were many, many witnesses who have talked to family members and they paint a very different picture than police witnesses,” said Benjamin Crump, an attorney for the Brown family. He also represented the family of Trayvon Martin, an unarmed black teen killed in Florida by a neighborhood watch volunteer in 2012.
The “hands up” gesture was constanly seen during protests which followed the incident. More than 100 people gathered in front of the St. Louis County Courthouse in nearby Clayton on Tuesday morning chanted “hands up, don’t shoot.”
The Federal Aviation Administration issued a ban on air traffic under 3,000 feet above the city starting Tuesday. The order said the ban was “to provide a safe environment for law enforcement activities.” Such bans are typically requested by police departments so that their aircraft do not tangle with news helicopters.