A St. Louis County grand jury in Missouri will hear evidence on Wednesday in the shooting death of Michael Brown by a white police officer in Ferguson, but witness accounts differ widely on the crucial elements of the incident that has set off days of protests by city residents.
The wide-ranging accounts emerge just as Attorney General Eric Holder heads to Ferguson to meet with FBI investigators in the case, The New York Times reports.
According to the Times, there is a general agreement on how the incident began: "with a struggle" between Brown and Officer Darren Wilson.
"Officer Wilson was inside his patrol car at the time," the Times reports, while Brown, "who was unarmed, was leaning in through an open window.
"Many witnesses also agreed on what happened next: Officer Wilson’s firearm went off inside the car" — and Brown fled, the Times reports. Wilson then "got out of his car and began firing" at Brown, and the 18-year-old Brown then "stopped, turned around and faced the officer."
However, the Times reports, "on the crucial moments that followed, the accounts differ sharply," according to investigators and witnesses who discussed the shooting on the condition of anonymity.
According to some witnesses, Brown "moved toward Officer Wilson, possibly in a threatening manner, when the officer shot him dead," the Times reports. Others, however, say that "Brown was not moving and may even have had his hands up when he was killed."
FBI agents are in Ferguson investigating the shooting on civil rights grounds.
Holder also is considering a broader civil rights probe into the Ferguson Police Department after news reports about a 2009 incident involving a man who asserted that he was beaten by four police officers, the Times reports.
The man said that he was later charged with damaging government property because blood had gotten on the officers' uniforms during the incident, according to the Times.
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