US protesters clash with police over man's shooting

Damaged police cars sit on the back of a tow truck.
Photo credit: AAP

A crowd of 300 protesters, some of them throwing rocks, have squared off against police in riot gear in Memphis, Tennessee, overnight after officers from the US Marshals fatally shot a black man during an attempted arrest.

At least two dozen police officers and two journalists were injured during the confrontation, Mayor Jim Strickland said in a statement on Thursday, adding that six officers were taken to the hospital.

The injuries were mostly minor, the police department said, and the crowd eventually dispersed. It was not clear how many civilians were hurt or whether anyone was arrested.

The tense scene raised the possibility of more disturbances in the predominantly black city, evoking memories of a string of sometimes violent protests against police brutality that broke out in other cities in recent years.

Those clashes, notably many days of protests after an unarmed black man was killed in Ferguson, Missouri, in 2014, gave rise to the Black Lives Matter movement.

In Memphis, agents with the US Marshals Service shot a man identified as Brandon Webber as they were trying to arrest him on multiple warrants at about 7pm local time on Wednesday in the working-class neighbourhood of Frayser, according to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, which is probing the shooting.

Webber rammed his vehicle into vehicles driven by the marshals before getting out with an unspecified weapon, the bureau said in a statement. The Marshals Service, an arm of the US Department of Justice, arrests fugitives, among other roles.

The state investigations bureau did not state the reason marshals wanted to arrest Webber.

Webber was a 20-year-old father, and his Facebook page quickly filled with tributes from friends mourning his death.

"The U.S. Marshals killed my son," Sonny Webber, the father of Brandon Webber, said in a brief telephone interview.

"He just had his first daughter a couple of weeks ago, and another daughter on the way."

The younger Webber was also the father of a two-year-old son, and had planned to attend the University the Memphis in August, his father said.