On Thursday morning, the city's mayor, Jim Strickland, said that the mayhem led to 24 officers and deputies being injured. While most of the injuries were minor, six cops ended up being taken to the hospital. In addition to those officers, Strickland said that two journalists were also injured. Strickland categorized the aggression aimed towards police as "unwarranted" while simultaneously praising the officers' response to the situation.
The catalyst for the whole scene occurred earlier on Wednesday night, when US Marshals shot and killed a man in Memphis's Frayser neighborhood. The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation said Marshals were attempting to apprehend the man, who had multiple felony warrants calling for his arrest, and that they shot him outside a home as he was attempting to get into a vehicle.
The bureau further says that the man had "reportedly rammed his vehicle into the officers' vehicles multiple times before exiting with a weapon." They say officers fired on him, and that no officers were injured in that incident. Shelby County Commissioner Tami Sawyer said on Twitter that the man was shot 16-to-20 times. Local officers had responded to the scene after the Marshals asked for assistance with traffic.
The deceased was later identified as 20-year-old Brandon Webber. After news of Webber's death quickly spread throughout the area, protesters reportedly threw rocks at police, destroyed a concrete wall, and smashed the windows of squad cars and a fire station. Eventually, tear gas was used to disperse the crowd, and three people were arrested for "disorderly conduct, inciting a riot and other charges."
Memphis police director Michael Rallings did commend those in attendance who he said were trying to diffuse the tense situation.
"I do want to commend individuals that did not decide to commit acts of violence toward the police officers, that showed restraint — I know that there were many individuals in the crowd that tried to assist in keeping everyone calm," Rallings said. "My message tonight is that, is we should all wait and make sure we know exactly what happened before we spread misinformation or we jump to conclusions."
However Rallings added that, while the department has been supportive of protests, they "will not allow any acts of violence [and] we will not allow destruction of property."