Tags: Ferguson | shooting | grand jury | decision

No Weekend Decision in Ferguson Shooting Case

Saturday, 22 November 2014 05:24 PM

The Missouri grand jury deciding whether to charge a Ferguson police officer in the August killing of an unarmed black teenager won’t make a decision this weekend, a law enforcement official familiar with the deliberations said as tensions in the St. Louis suburb remain high.

The decision by the grand jury, composed of nine whites and three blacks, was widely expected today with an announcement tomorrow. The law enforcement official, who wasn’t authorized to speak about the deliberations, declined to speculate on why the grand jury hadn’t reached a decision and said law enforcement doesn’t know what will happen next week.

Officer Darren Wilson, 28, shot at least six times and killed Michael Brown, 18, in a street encounter on Aug. 9., triggering days of sometimes violent protests, looting and a police response that was criticized as militaristic. The shooting rekindled a national dialogue on race and American law enforcement.

Some eyewitnesses said Brown was shot while raising his hands in surrender. Police said he attacked Wilson while the officer was in his patrol car.

The grand jury began hearing evidence Aug. 20 and, according to CNN and MSNBC, will reconvene Nov. 24. Ed Magee, a spokesman for St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Robert McCulloch, didn’t immediately respond to an e-mailed request for comment.

New York civil-rights activist Al Sharpton said his organization will hold vigils at federal courthouses in 25 U.S. cities, following the grand jury’s decision. Internet sites are listing details of other gatherings to occur after the announcement.

Demonstrators blocked streets in Ferguson last night and three people were arrested and charged with unlawful assembly after refusing to leave roadways, according to a statement from law enforcement officials.

Rallies were held last month under the banner “Ferguson October,” and spread to the city of St. Louis, 8 miles to the southeast.

Ferguson is a municipality of about 21,000 people, 70 percent of whom are black. As of September, 50 of the city’s 53 police officers were white.

Missouri Governor Jay Nixon, a Democrat, said on Nov. 11 that hundreds of local and state police had received special training to respond to possible civil unrest after the grand jury’s decision and that National Guard troops could be called in if violence overwhelms those first-responders.

On Nov. 17, Nixon declared a state of emergency, activating the National Guard and creating a “unified command” of police agencies in anticipation of unrest when the grand jury’s decision is made public.

“As part of our ongoing efforts to plan and be prepared for any contingency, it is necessary to have these resources in place in advance of any announcement,” Nixon said in a statement. “Public safety demands that we are fully prepared.”

A day later, the governor said protesters’ rights to demonstrate would be protected and announced the appointment of 16 people including clergymen, academics and social workers to a state commission assigned to “study the underlying issues” raised by events in Ferguson.

The federal government is examining the Ferguson police department, its training and operating procedures. U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said the investigation was prompted by conversations he had with residents who expressed a “deep mistrust” of the city’s police.

President Barack Obama called for calm in an interview with ABC.

“This is a country that allows everybody to express their views, allows them to peacefully assemble to protest actions that they think are unjust,” Obama told ABC’s “This Week." “But using any event as an excuse for violence is contrary to the rule of law and contrary to who we are.”

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A decision in the Michael Brown case will not be reached during the weekend. The grand jury deciding whether to indict white Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson in the shooting death of the unarmed black teen will not reconvene until Monday, local and federal law...
Ferguson, shooting, grand jury, decision
Saturday, 22 November 2014 05:24 PM
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