Family wants answers after black St. Louis teen fatally shot in the back by police
Police tape (Shutterstock)

Relatives of a black male teenager whom St. Louis police fatally shot in the back more than three weeks ago still cannot get officials to release key details about the incident, their lawyer said on Friday.

The family of Mansur Ball-Bey has repeatedly asked for the identity of the two police officers who fired on the 18-year-old shortly before noon on Aug. 19, attorney Jerryl Christmas said.

The family also is seeking forensics information gathered from the gun that police say Ball-Bey pointed at officers, but the family believes was planted at the scene by police, he said.

"It is unusual," Christmas said. "I think they are trying to protect their officers."

St. Louis police spokeswoman Schron Jackson said the two officers involved were on administrative leave, but the department would not disclose their identities because the incident is still under investigation.

Details will be released after the conclusion of the investigation, and local and federal prosecutors have reviewed the findings, she said.

St. Louis and the nearby suburb of Ferguson have drawn more than a year of protests over police treatment of minorities after a white Ferguson officer fatally shot 18-year-old Michael Brown, an unarmed African-American, in August 2014. That and other fatal incidents ignited protests around the United States.

In the Ferguson incident, police waited six days before releasing the name of Darren Wilson as the officer who shot Brown, along with other information.

The delay was one factor that angered the community and fueled distrust of police, the U.S. Justice Department said in a report about the unrest that followed that shooting.

The Justice Department said law enforcement should release all information lawfully permitted as soon as possible unless there is a compelling reason not to, particularly when serious incidents involving police occur.

St. Louis Police Chief Sam Dotson has said Ball-Bey pointed a gun at two officers after he and another African-American ran out of the back of a home being searched. The officers then fired at Ball-Bey.

A coroner's report found that one bullet struck Ball-Bey in the back, severing his spinal cord and hitting his heart.

Police said they recovered a gun that Ball-Bey dropped and determined it had been stolen.

Christmas said the family needed to know the identities of the officers involved to establish whether they have a history of questionable conduct.

He said the family wanted the forensic information gathered from the gun that police say Ball-Bey threw because witnesses have said he did not have a gun before or when he was shot.