The US state of Wisconsin has activated its National Guard to assist the Milwaukee Police Department in the wake of continued protests against police brutality in the city.
Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker put the force on alert on Sunday night, after demonstrators flooded Milwaukee streets overnight to protest the shooting death of an African American man by police officers.
Police said gunshots were heard and the unrest continued for a second night on Sunday. Debris was thrown at police officers as they attempted to disperse protesters.
Sylville K. Smith, 23, was killed by an officer on Saturday, after fleeing a traffic stop on foot.
Cars stand burned in the lot of the BP gas station after rioters clashed with police in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, August 14, 2016. (AFP Photo)
The National Guard was activated upon a request by Sheriff David A. Clarke, after at least four businesses were torched, several police cars badly damaged and many others set ablaze.
The unrest peaked when a gas station was set on fire and gunshots prevented firefighters from doing their job.
Four officers were injured and at least seven police cars sustained heavy damage as a result of the violence.
According to Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, the 100 National Guardsmen would only be deployed when police deemed their presence necessary.
“I’m hopeful that that will not be necessary,” Barrett said. “But if it necessary, we will do so.”
Milwaukee police said unreleased footage from body cameras show that there was a “credible threat” to the officer’s life during the chase, since Smith was armed and turned towards the officer with a gun in his hand.
A police officer stands guard in front of the damage to the BP gas station after rioters clashed with the Milwaukee Police Department protesting an officer involved killing in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, August 14, 2016. (AFP photo)
“That officer had to make a split-second decision when the person confronted him with a handgun,” Milwaukee Police Assistant Chief Bill Jessup said. “This is a risk they take every day on behalf of our community.”
The shooting officer has been put on administrative duty and is awaiting an investigation, said Milwaukee Police Chief Edward Flynn, adding that the unidentified officer has left town because of the threats that he had received.
The incident comes amid renewed anger over the fatal shooting of several young African Americans by police around the US in recent weeks.