Girlfriend of Memphis man shot and killed by US Marshals goes into labor during riots protesting his death
The pregnant girlfriend of a 20-year-old man, who was shot dead by US Marshals during an attempted arrest outside his family home, went into labor just as riots were breaking out on the streets of the Memphis neighborhood where he was killed. Brandon Webber was shot and killed by marshals on Wednesday, June 12, night when they were trying to arrest him for multiple warrants, including violent felony offenses, outside his home in Frayser, North Memphis.
According to his father Sonny Webber, the 20-year-old was shot around 16 to 20 times by the officers. Authorities have not confirmed what the felony arrest warrants were or how many gunshots were fired at the time. His girlfriend, Alorea Hardwick, who is the mother of his two-year-old son, went into labor soon after Webber was killed. They were expecting a baby girl but it is not known if she has given birth.
Hardwick filmed a heartbreaking Facebook Live video of her crying in her hospital bed after she heard the news of Webber's death. The couple had hosted a baby shower on June 1 in the home where he was killed. Webber, who had a history with law enforcement on minor drug-related and driving charges, was described as being an honors student who graduated from Memphis Central High School in 2017. It was reported that he was enrolled at the University of Memphis.
Public records have shown that Webber was arrested five times in the past for driving violations as well as charges that included possession of drug paraphernalia and marijuana. Just before he was shot dead, Webber had posted a live video on Facebook that showed him inside a car, rapping, and apparently smoking a joint.
In the video, he can be seen looking out of the window and saying he saw the police. He then says with a laugh while looking into the camera that the officers would "have to kill me". The video appears to have been removed from his Facebook page.
Police, meanwhile, appealed for calm in the tense Memphis neighborhood where a rock-throwing crowd gathered after federal marshals fatally shot the black man who, authorities said, had rammed a police vehicle with a stolen car. Thirty-six officers suffered minor injuries from flying rocks and bricks in the hours following the death of Webber, who was killed after he exited the car holding some type of weapon, authorities said.
Webber had been wanted in a June 3 shooting that happened during a car theft about 25 miles (40 kilometers) south of Memphis in Hernando, Mississippi. The victim was shot five times and survived. The car was the one used to ram the police vehicle, according to DeSoto County, Mississippi, District Attorney John Champion, who spoke on June 13 at a news conference.
Elected officials condemned the violence, and the police chief pleaded for patience while the shooting is investigated. But unanswered questions left many people angry as they recalled other police shootings around the country. During the unrest, officers cordoned off several blocks in the Frayser neighborhood north of downtown and arrested three people. By 11 pm, officers had used tear gas and most of the crowd dispersed, Police Director Michael Rallings said.
Rallings implored residents to wait until the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI) finished its investigation. He appealed for people to refrain from violence and from spreading possible misinformation about the shooting. "I need everyone to stay calm," Rallings said.
He later told WREG-TV that while peaceful protests are allowed, authorities would not tolerate further attacks on officers or any property damage or looting. Among steps designed to maintain public order and protect law enforcement, Rallings said, officers' days off have been canceled and they will ride in two-person cars as a precaution.
Separately, Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee said through a spokeswoman that the shooting would be fully investigated. Lee's press secretary, Laine Arnold, said the crowd's actions were "not representative of the community, but we stand firmly against acts of lawlessness that threaten the safety of our neighborhoods."
Memphis-area police shootings in the past four years have prompted sporadic protests. Among them was Darrius Stewart, an unarmed 19-year-old who was fatally shot during a fight in 2015 with Connor Schilling, a white officer who was trying to arrest him on outstanding warrants. A Shelby County district attorney recommended that Schilling be charged with voluntary manslaughter, but a grand jury refused to indict him.
With AP inputs.