ST. LOUIS (AP) — A jury has convicted a man of shooting two police officers during a 2015 protest in Ferguson amid fallout over the fatal police shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown months earlier.
The officers were shot in March 2015 during one of many protests that followed Brown's August 2014 death. Both officers survived, but one left the department due to his injury, according to Webster Groves Lt. Andy Miller.
A St. Louis County jury deliberated about two hours Thursday night before finding Jeffrey Williams, 22, guilty of two counts of assault, three counts of armed criminal action and one count of shooting from a vehicle. Sentencing is in January, and prosecutor Bob McCulloch said his office will seek life in prison plus additional years for Williams.
"This guy's very dangerous," McCulloch said. "There was a big crowd out there that night, not just police but a lot of civilians. He fired off a whole bunch of shots. He's fortunate he didn't kill anybody."
Williams, who was in a car passing through the protest area when bullets struck a Webster Groves officer in the face and a St. Louis County officer in the shoulder, says he isn't the one who shot the officers. Williams' attorney, Jerryl Christmas, said an appeal is likely.
"He continues to maintain that the actual shooter was the back seat passenger in the car," Christmas said.
The officers were shot after the U.S. Department of Justice issued a scathing report critical of Ferguson's criminal justice system and municipal court.
Brown, who was black and unarmed, was fatally shot by white Ferguson officer Darren Wilson on Aug. 9, 2014. A St. Louis County grand jury ruled in November 2014 that there were no grounds for criminal charges against Wilson, who resigned that same month. The Justice Department also declined to press charges against Wilson.
The report prompted the resignation of Ferguson's police chief, Tom Jackson, and set off a renewed wave of protests outside police headquarters.
The two injured officers were among several officers still present as a protest appeared to be breaking up. Williams initially told investigators he fired the shots but was aiming at someone else.
Christmas said Williams was hesitant to tell the truth "for fear of retaliation of him or his family members."