Edward Crawford, Ferguson Protester and Subject of Iconic Photo, Found Dead

MCNS Staff

Edward Crawford in 2014 returning a gas bomb shot at protesters in ferguson

Edward Crawford in 2014 returning a gas bomb shot at protesters in ferguson

Edward Crawford, subject of an iconic photo taken during the Ferguson protests, has been found dead. Police have ruled the death a suicide, but an investigation is ongoing.

Crawford’s death was confirmed at 11:46 pm to news agencies by the St. Louis Office of the Medical Examiner. Investigator Rose Psara said Crawford was pronounced deceased shortly before midnight on Thursday at 1435 Salisbury Street in the Hyde Park neighborhood of St. Louis.

Crawford was pronounced dead on the scene. Police said an investigation is ongoing and, while initially declared a suicide, the official cause of death will be determined by an autopsy.

The St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department told news media that Crawford shot himself in the backseat of a car while it was moving, according to two witnesses who were seated in the front of the car.

“The victim began expressing he was distraught over personal matters to the witnesses,” reports the police department’s Public Information Officer Leah Freeman. “The witnesses heard the victim rummaging in the backseat, then heard a gunshot and observed the victim had sustained a gunshot wound to the head.”

The victim’s father, Edward Crawford, Sr. does not believe his son killed himself. “I don’t believe it was a suicide,” he said. He stated investigators weren’t saying much to him yet. “They’re being hush-hush,” the father said.

An image of Edward Crawford, wearing a t-shirt emblazoned with a tattered American flag, throwing a flaming tear gas canister back at police became emblematic of the protests in Ferguson. The photo capturing the struggle against police aggression and Black anger at police killings of Black people became one of the most iconic images of the Ferguson protests and won a 2015 Pulitzer Prize for breaking news photography.

Crawford was throwing back at police an active canister that had been fired near a group of people. He told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch in 2015 that he was protecting people from the tear gas and that police were 30 or 40 yards away: “I can’t even throw a baseball that far, let alone a burning can of tear gas.”

“I didn’t throw a burning can back at police,” said Crawford. “I threw it out of the way of children.”

The twenty-seven year old was later charged for interfering with a police officer stemming from the tear gas incident.

Crawford is the third known Ferguson protester to become a victim of gun violence since tensions reached a boiling point after Michael Brown’s August 2014 death from a fatal shooting by then police officer Darren Wilson.

In September 2016, the remains of Ferguson activist Darren Seals was discovered inside a burning car. Seals had been shot, and police declared the death a homicide.

In November 2014 on the night a grand jury declined to convict the Ferguson police officer who fatally shot Brown, 20-year-old Deandre Joshua was found shot in the head with severe burns after being lit on fire. Like Seals, Joshua was discovered dead in his own car.

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