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Ferguson protester who threw back tear gas cannister in iconic photo is charged


UPDATED at 10:50 a.m. Friday

CLAYTON • The St. Louis County counselor has filed charges against Edward Crawford, who was featured in a Post-Dispatch photo hurling a tear gas container back toward police during Ferguson protests last year.

Crawford, 26, was cited under two county ordinances: interfering with a police officer and assault. His court date is set for Sept. 9.

The assault charge, filed Aug. 3, alleges that Crawford assaulted a person by "throwing a burning gas canister at police officers and making physical contact with (an officer), causing him to be knocked to the ground." The other charge claims Crawford repeatedly failed to comply with police commands to show his hands.

County Counselor Peter Krane declined to discuss any of the allegations or say precisely what kind of physical contact caused the officer to be knocked to the ground.

The incident was part of protests on Aug. 12-13, 2014, near Chambers Road. Post-Dispatch photographer Robert Cohen took the photo that was part of a Pulitzer Prize winning collection and reproduced around the world.

“I didn’t throw a burning can back at police,” Crawford said Wednesday. “I threw it out of the way of children.” He said he didn’t see where it landed or if it hit anyone. He estimated the closest police were 30 to 40 yards away and said, “I can’t even throw a baseball that far, let alone a burning can of tear gas.”

Crawford complained that the charges took so long, and said, “I just feel like they’re trying to make something out of nothing.”

Krane’s office has one year to file such charges. He said recently that his office reviewed approximately 100 reports and expects to file fewer than 100 warrants. Among those already cited are reporters for the The Washington Post, Huffington Post and CTV News, a Canadian broadcast network.

Krane said his staff reviewed police reports, videos and social media before making the decisions. He defended the delay, saying the review did not start until after County Executive Steve Stenger appointed him in January.

Some civil rights attorneys have been critical of the delay. The American Civil Liberties Union and other groups claim the county counselor is pursuing charges in cases previously rejected by St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Robert McCulloch and municipal prosecutors in Ferguson and Dellwood.

EDITOR'S NOTE: This story has been updated to include more language from court papers about the charges.

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