Justice Dept. to Recommend No Civil Rights Charges in Ferguson Shooting

22 Jan 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Ferguson looting video release is part of effort to identify suspects.

ST. WASHINGTON — The Justice Department has begun work on a legal memo recommending no civil rights charges against a white police officer in Ferguson, Mo., who killed an unarmed black teenager in August, law enforcement officials said. The announcement sent off waves of protests and riots, with accusations that the local prosecutor’s office had deliberately led the grand jury to return a “no bill” that didn’t file any charges against the officer.

Louis County police released a dramatic video Tuesday that shows dozens of people smashing their way into a Ferguson, Mo., market on the night the city erupted in violence after a grand jury declined to indict the police officer who shot and killed Michael Brown. Many civil rights advocates had pinned their hopes on the Justice Department’s own investigation, saying they wanted the agency to file some kind of charge against Mr. The five-minute clip shows a swarm of people — many wearing hooded sweatshirts that obstruct their faces — pull apart boards meant to protect Dellwood Market and force their way inside.

A broader civil rights investigation into allegations of discriminatory traffic stops and excessive force by the Ferguson Police Department remains open, however. But the federal investigation looked into whether Wilson willfully violated Brown’s civil rights by shooting him — a much higher legal bar to climb, since the intent would be very difficult to prove.

Now, it looks as if that won’t happen, as The Times reported that federal prosecutors are drafting a memo that recommends no action be taken against Mr. Nearly 200 people were arrested in the days that followed the Nov. 24 grand jury announcement, but many were charged with unlawful assembly, not the various arsons and break-ins that plagued the city.

Police released surveillance footage from two other businesses to local news organizations this month, but the Dellwood Market video was the first in a series that police plan to share on the Internet in coming months, he said. McGuire said the local release of the earlier videos led to the identification of six suspects, but detectives have yet to make arrests in those cases.

It was also the scene of a tense moment between police and civilians in which several officers aimed rifles at a car that pulled into the parking lot. The people in the car immediately raised their hands in surrender and were allowed to leave after a brief standoff, but the scene unnerved several witnesses that night.

McGuire acknowledged the video and accompanying screenshots of potential suspects were grainy at best, but he said police believe the images may still help bring potential witnesses forward. “Every business that was affected by something along the lines of what happened in Ferguson, we’re going to release video if we have it,” he said. Wayne Fisher, a professor of police policy at Rutgers University in New Jersey, said that despite the poor quality of the videos, people who know those caught on camera might be able to pick out names and faces. “I think identifications can be made from some of these photos. 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. Holder resisted calls from local officials to announce his conclusion alongside the county prosecutor last year, in part because he did not want it to appear as if they had reached their decisions together.

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. 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.

Wilson told a state grand jury, in testimony that investigators said was consistent with what he told the F.B.I. “And he had started to lean forward as he got that close, like he was going to just tackle me, just go right through me,” Mr. 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.

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