Some members of a crowd of 400 protesting the death of a black store owner broke windows and set fires in a Delta town's downtown business district, officials said.
The violence erupted after the crowd, which originally met at Leland High School Wednesday night, marched to the police building and was rebuffed in an effort to meet with local officials about the Oct. 17 shooting.No major injuries were reported and no arrests were made, Police Chief Mike Dees said. The unrest ended Thursday when local officers were reinforced by state troopers and other law enforcement officers, he said.
The marchers were protesting the death of Aaron White, owner of a TV repair shop in this west-central Mississippi town of 6,000. White, 29, died from a gunshot wound in the head after he allegedly fled from police after his car was involved in a traffic accident.
L.C. Gatewood, protest organizer, and others claimed that a narcotics officer shot White and that police tried to cover up the story by saying White shot himself.
Initially, police said White was shot when officer Jackie Blaylock returned fire after seeing a muzzle blast in the dark from behind a house. Blaylock is white.
Dees said authorities later concluded that White accidentally killed himself as he crawled through bushes in an attempt to avoid officers after the car accident. He said the medical examiner report said White died from a .38-caliber bullet, the caliber of the gun found in White's hand, while Blaylock had a .40-caliber gun.
People gathered at the high school auditorium to discuss the incident when they apparently decided to march to the police department building.
At the police headquarters, Dees said, the crowd threw bottles and rocks at the building and police vehicles, then went to the business section, where they broke windows of eight buildings and threw fire bombs into two businesses.