Protests Occur in Memphis After Fatal Law Enforcement Shooting

Protests broke out in Memphis, Tennessee on June 12 after US Marshals reportedly shot and killed a 20-year-old Black man while they were trying to take him into custody.

The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI) said in a statement that federal officers came across a man who was “wanted on multiple warrants” coming out of his home in the 2000 block of Durham Street at about 7 p.m. and getting into his car.

“While attempting to stop the individual, he reportedly rammed his vehicle into the officers’ vehicles multiple times before exiting with a weapon,” the statement from TBI read. “The officers fired striking and killing the individual.”

The man has been identified as 20-year-old Brandon Webber, the Daily Memphian reported. In a statement to BuzzFeed News, Shelby County District Attorney Amy Weirich said Webber was wanted for "multiple warrants, including violent felony offenses," over an incident that occurred on June 3 in Hernando, Mississippi.

Webber’s family told the Daily Memphian that the 20-year-old was shot about 20 times by the officers. His father, Sonny Webber, told Reuters that Brandon was a father of two and was expecting a third child. He elaborated that his son had sold marijuana but was not a drug dealer and had planned on taking classes at the University of Memphis in August.

“He wasn’t a bad guy,” Sonny told Reuters. “He wasn’t even living long enough to be a bad guy.”

Following the news of Brandon’s death, protests broke out in Frayser, Tennessee. The Memphis Police Department said in a Twitter statement that a total of 36 police officers had suffered minor injuries after people threw rocks and bricks at them. Police deployed tear gas before 10 p.m., according to the Daily Memphian.

Mayor Jim Strickland said in a Facebook statement on June 13 that six police officers were taken to the hospital and a concrete wall outside of a business near where the protests took place was torn down.

“Let me be clear — the aggression shown towards our officers and deputies tonight was unwarranted,” Strickland wrote.

The Memphis branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) wrote on Twitter that it would continue to monitor “the reports of the riots in the North Memphis, TN community of #Frayser.” In a statement on June 14, the organization said that it will make “a formal inquiry with law enforcement about the murder of Brandon Webber.”

“We are very interested in learning if the agents who shot and killed Mr. Webber were wearing body cameras so we can ascertain what really happened last night. We also would like to know if Webber’s felony warrant was issued as a part of the Federal Task Force mandate and if there was a better way to engage Mr. Webber once he was located,” Deirdre Malone, president of the NAACP Memphis Branch, said in a statement.

“Unfortunately for our citizens, Memphis is again in the spotlight over the shooting of an African American. The NAACP Memphis Branch will continue to ask these questions until we obtain a response,” the statement continued.

Tami Sawyer, a mayoral candidate in Memphis and the Shelby County commissioner, criticized the NAACP for calling the unrest in the Frayser community “riots.”

“It’s become broken windows policing verbiage that is used to justify extreme force during civilian unrest which is often tied to emotional situations such as tonight,” Sawyer wrote in a Twitter thread on June 13. “‘Riot’ distracts and distances people from the depth of what’s occurring. And allows them to turn their backs on the community expressing hurt.”

TBI said in its statement that its agents are continuing to investigate the incident.

In May, more than 50 demonstrators protested in Carteret, New Jersey after a white police officer was acquitted for brutally beating a 16-year-old boy during an arrest back in 2017. Officer Joseph Reiman was found not guilty of assault, misconduct charges, and falsifying reports about the beating of Monte Stewart, previously reported.

The then 16-year-old had taken his father’s car without permission and a police chase ensued. After the car crashed, a video of the incident obtained by the publication shows Stewart stepping out of the car while Reiman yells at him before jumping on the teen and hitting him while yelling, “You’re under arrest!”

About the Author

Maria Perez is a breaking news writer for The North Star. She has an M.A. in Urban Reporting from the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism. She has been published in the various venues, including Newsweek, Juvenile Justice Information Exchange, City Limits, and local newspapers like The Wave and The Home Reporter.