The suburban St. Louis police officer who threatened to kill protesters with his weapon drawn in Ferguson is Lt. Ray Albers, his boss said.
Albers, 46, a 20-year police veteran who served four years in the Army, is the man caught on video screaming at protesters, "I will fucking kill you," while pointing his rifle at civilians, St. Ann Police Chief Aaron Jimenez told The Huffington Post Wednesday night.
Albers told the chief he was sick to his stomach and "should have known better," Jimenez said. He has been placed on indefinite, unpaid suspension from the force while an investigation is underway.
"It's frustrating, because we told [our officers] before we went down there that there would be lots of people trying to antagonize to provoke them into saying something," Jimenez said. "Whether you’re a pedestrian or protesters, you have to be professional, and [Albers'] actions weren't in any way, shape or form."
Stress and fear may have contributed to the confrontation, Jimenez said, but didn't excuse the officer's behavior. However, the police chief said his department supports Albers' raising of his weapon at protesters.
"He saw three to four suspects with bandanas on, and saw one of them raise a gun towards him," Jimenez said. "That made him draw his weapon up to the crowd, and he was scanning and moving that weapon back and forth, trying to assess the scene. ... Him seeing the gun in the crowd, he had every right to protect himself in fear of danger until he assessed the scene."
Bottles of urine were being thrown at the officer, Jimenez said. In a YouTube video that captured the terrifying confrontation between protesters and Albers, people can be heard screaming "Don't throw anything!"
"Most of the protesters are really good people, but there's a small percentage of people that are out there trying to antagonize and make the protesters look bad," Jimenez said.
Jimenez said he was "highly angry and upset" that Albers refused to give his name to those filming.
"When he was asked the name, you need to be giving your name so they know who to contact," Jimenez said. "So when he said, 'Go F yourself,' that was uncalled for too."
Before his Facebook page was taken down, Albers posted a status the night of the video asking people to pray for officers.
Jimenez said he did not know details of Albers' military service.
Next week, Albers will undergo a psychological evaluation as the investigation continues.
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