LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — Dozens of people took to streets Monday to protest the fatal shooting by Little Rock police of a black man who allegedly fled from officers — an outpouring of anger that comes amid outrage felt by many about George Zimmerman's acquittal.
The department declined to identify the officer who shot and killed 26-year-old Deon Williams by name, but hours after the confrontation, it said the officer is also black.
According to police, officers saw an SUV that appeared to match the description of a stolen vehicle, and it pulled to a stop before officers could pull it over. Williams got out and fled on foot, and a handgun slipped from his waistband during the chase. The officer had his Taser out at the time, but he dropped it when he saw the gun, police said.
"He drew his service weapon and saw the subject pick up the handgun, look towards him, and start to get to his feet," police said in a statement. "At that point the officer feared for his life and fired his service weapon approximately three times."
Williams was taken to a nearby hospital, where police said he was pronounced dead shortly after noon. The officer who shot him and another officer involved in the pursuit have been placed on paid administrative leave, as is department policy in police shootings.
An impromptu protest formed at the investigation scene, and many participants called the shooting unjust and cited their frustration about Zimmerman's acquittal Saturday in Florida in the shooting death of an unarmed black teenager, Trayvon Martin.
"It was an outrage what they just did in Florida with Trayvon Martin," said Dominique Neal, 25. "I'm still mad about that. Then ... this right here in our city, it's an outrage."
Some protesters shouted obscenities at officers and others expressed their outrage on hastily-drawn signs, including one that called for justice for a teen killed by Little Rock police last year.
Authorities said Williams' weapon and some drugs had been recovered nearby. They did not say if the SUV he was in had been stolen.
"People have a right to express their opinions and ideas and we're going to protect that right," Police Chief Stuart Thomas said. "By the same token, we have an obligation to follow through with what we have to do at the scene."
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