Civil rights charges unlikely against Ferguson cop in Brown case, official says

22 Jan 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

AP source: FBI completes federal probe of Ferguson shooting.

The FBI’s investigation into the shooting death of an unarmed black teenager in Ferguson, Mo. last summer is complete, and it’s unlikely to result in civil rights charges against the white police officer involved in the case, a U.S. official confirmed to Fox News on Wednesday. The Justice Department has yet to make any official announcement, but sources close to the department have said such a prosecution would be unlikely, in part because of the extraordinarily high legal standard federal prosecutors would need to meet.

Wilson was cleared in November by a state grand jury in the August 9 death of Michael Brown, a shooting that touched off protests in the streets and became part of a national conversation about race relations and police departments that patrol minority neighborhoods. The case is now in the hands of federal prosecutors and a final decision is expected sometime before Attorney General Eric Holder leaves office in the next several weeks.

That standard, which means prosecutors must prove that an officer knowingly used more force than the law allowed, is challenging for the government to meet. The timing of his departure is dependent on the confirmation of nominee Loretta Lynch, who is scheduled for hearings next week before the Senate Judiciary Committee. Even if it’s somebody that you think it may be, that at least gives our detectives something to work with and follow a lead.” Several leads have been generated as a result of earlier releases of images taken from a gas station, pharmacy and liquor store, but McGuire says no arrests have been made at this time. That investigation, which will examine potential racial bias among officers, has the potential to have more sweeping consequences than any individual criminal prosecutions, experts say. Louis County Police Officer Shawn McGuire at (314) 615-4278, officer Brian Schellman at (314) 615-4282, or CrimeStoppers at 866-371-TIPS(8477). (TM and © Copyright 2015 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries.

Benjamin Crump, a lawyer for Brown’s family, said in a statement that the family would not address speculation from anonymous officials and was waiting for an official Justice Department announcement. But a broader Justice Department civil rights investigation into allegations of discriminatory traffic stops and excessive force by the Ferguson Police Department remains open. Multiple high-profile police-involved deaths, including the 1999 shooting of Amadou Diallo, an unarmed West African immigrant, in New York City, have not resulted in federal charges.

Benjamin Crump, an attorney for Michael Brown’s family, told USA TODAY Wednesday that neither he nor the Brown family has been informed of the Justice Department’s decision. “The last we heard from them, they were still investigating,” Crump said. “We won’t respond to rumors and speculation because it’s too much to put the family through. Louis County grand jury decision in November, followed closely by a December Staten Island, N.Y., grand jury decision to clear a white officer in the choke-hold death of another black man, Eric Garner, touched off national protests and a re-examination of police tactics and law enforcement’s interactions with minority communities.

The New York Times reported Wednesday that Justice Department lawyers were preparing a memo recommending against prosecuting Wilson, but that the memo was not yet complete and that Holder — who is expected to leave his position within weeks — had not yet made a decision. Holder and Mayor Bill de Blasio of New York, speaking about the issue in personal terms, said they understood the concern that minority neighborhoods had with the police.

The U.S. attorney whose office is handling that investigation, Loretta Lynch, has been nominated to replace Holder and faces a Senate confirmation hearing next week. Brown charged at him, and other witnesses backed up his account. “I’m backpedaling pretty good because I know if he reaches me, he’ll kill me,” Mr. Holder ordered a separate autopsy, which was conducted by pathologists from the Armed Forces Medical Examiner’s office at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware, the officials said. The federal investigation did not uncover any facts that differed significantly from the evidence made public by the authorities in Missouri late last year, the law enforcement officials said. He traveled to Ferguson, spoke of his experiences as a victim of racial profiling and emerged as a peacemaker during the tense days after the shooting, when police used tear gas on demonstrators and the National Guard was summoned.

Residents told investigators that the police used traffic citations in minority neighborhoods as a way to raise money for the city. “These anecdotal accounts underscored the history of mistrust of law enforcement in Ferguson,” Mr. Mayor James Knowles III of Ferguson did not respond Wednesday afternoon to a voice mail message and email seeking comment about the broader federal investigation of his city’s police department. Jeff Small, a Ferguson spokesman, said city officials did not have any new information to share about either federal probe and would not comment on them.

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