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More Racial Violence Outside St. Louis



Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon has ordered the National Guard to Ferguson to help restore order to the St. Louis suburb after a week of sometimes-violent protests over the fatal police shooting of an unarmed black teenager.

Nixon made the announcement in statement issued early Monday after another night of clashes between police and protesters in Ferguson.

Officers used tear gas to clear demonstrators off the streets late Sunday.

Capt. Ron Johnson of the Missouri Highway Patrol is command in Ferguson. He says authorities were responding to reports of gunfire, looting, vandalism and protesters who hurled Molotov cocktails.

The unarmed black teenager killed by a white officer in Missouri was shot at least six times, including twice in the head, a preliminary private autopsy has found.

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder has asked for the Justice Department to arrange an autopsy on the body of Michael Brown by a federal medical examiner.

Justice Department spokesman Brian Fallon said in a news release on Sunday that Holder asked for the additional autopsy because of the "extraordinary circumstances involved in this case" and at the request of Brown's family.

Police have said little about the encounter between Brown and the officer, except to say that it involved a scuffle in which the officer was injured and Brown was shot. Witnesses say the teenager had his hands in the air as the officer fired multiple rounds.

  The New York Times reported ( http://nyti.ms/1mZThz0 ) that the autopsy by Dr. Michael Baden, a former New York City chief medical examiner, found that one of the bullets entered the top of Michael Brown's skull, suggesting that his head was bent forward when he suffered a fatal injury.

Baden said it was likely the last of bullets to hit Brown. He also old the Times that Brown was also shot four times in the right arm and that all the bullets were fired into his front. The newspaper said the bullets did not appear to have come from very close range because there was no gunpowder on his body.

That determination could change if there were residue on Brown's clothing, which Baden did not examine, the newspaper said.

Some of the bullets entered and exited Brown several times, the newspaper said, including one that caused at least five wounds. It said one shattered his right eye, went through his face, left through his jaw and re-entered his collarbone. The last two shots in the head would have stopped him in his tracks and were likely the last fired, the Times said.

Baden told the newspaper Brown would not have survived even if he had been taken to a hospital immediately.

AP Photo

A timeline of key events following the fatal police shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson, Missouri.

AUG. 9 - Brown and a companion are confronted by an officer as they walk back to Brown's home from a convenience store. Brown and the officer are involved in some kind of scuffle, followed by gunshots. Brown dies at the scene.

AUG. 10 - After a candlelight vigil, people protesting Brown's death smash car windows and carry away armloads of looted goods from stores. In the first of several nights of violence, looters are seen making off with bags of food, toilet paper and alcohol. Some protesters stand atop police cars and taunt officers.

AUG. 11 - The FBI opens an investigation into Brown's death, and two men who said they saw the shooting tell reporters that Brown had his hands raised when the officer approached with his weapon and fired repeatedly. That night, police in riot gear fire tear gas and rubber bullets to try to disperse a crowd.

AUG. 12 - Ferguson Police Chief Tom Jackson cancels plans to release the name of the officer who shot Brown, citing death threats against the police department and City Hall. The Rev. Al Sharpton and President Barack Obama both plead for calm after two nights of clashes between police and protesters.

AUG. 13 - Another night of violence wracks Ferguson, with some people lobbing Molotov cocktails and other objects at police, who respond with smoke bombs and tear gas. Two reporters are detained at a McDonald's. Images of the standoff, showing police using armored vehicles and pointing assault rifles at the crowds, are widely shared on social media.

AUG. 14 - The Missouri Highway Patrol takes control of security in Ferguson, relieving local police of their law-enforcement authority after four days of violence. Within hours, the mood among protesters becomes lighter, even festive. The streets are filled with music, free food and even laughter.

AUG. 15 - Police identify the officer who shot Brown as Darren Wilson, a 28-year-old man who had patrolled the St. Louis suburbs for six years. They also release a video purporting to show Brown robbing a convenience store of almost $50 worth of cigars shortly before he was killed. The video draws anger from protesters. After nightfall, officers and the crowds clash again. Some people in the crowd storm into the same convenience store that Brown was accused of robbing and loot it.

AUG. 16 - Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon declares a state of emergency and imposes a curfew in Ferguson. The first night of the curfew ends with tear gas and seven arrests, after police in riot gear use armored vehicles to disperse defiant protesters who refused to leave.

AUG. 17- Attorney General Eric Holder orders a federal medical examiner to perform another autopsy on Brown. The Justice Department cites the "extraordinary circumstances" surrounding the death and a request by Brown's family members.

 

(AP) -- After a week of violent clashes between police and protesters, Missouri authorities leading the investigation into the police shooting death of an unarmed black teenager are increasingly facing questions about whether their eventual findings can be seen as credible among residents who are highly distrustful of those in charge.

The coming days and weeks will be crucial as grand jurors began hearing evidence that will help determine whether Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson is charged with a state crime for the Aug. 9 shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown.

The U.S. Justice Department is conducting a separate civil rights investigation, which could mean there are two decisions about whether to charge Wilson, who is white.

The state's case is being overseen by St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Bob McCulloch, who is white, and remains in charge despite mounting pressure to step aside from some local residents and black St. Louis area officials who believe he cannot be impartial.

In some other prominent cases - most notably, the 2012 racially charged shooting of Trayvon Martin in Florida - special state prosecutors have been appointed to determine whether to pursue charges. That sometimes has occurred only after the local authorities took no action.

But under Missouri law, it "would be highly, highly, highly unusual" for a prosecutor to step aside merely because of racial tensions in a high-profile case, said Peter Joy, a Washington University law professor who directs the school's Criminal Justice Clinic. That's because in Missouri, "the buck stops with the head prosecutor" in each county.

Missouri law allows two avenues for outside prosecutors. The local prosecutor can ask for help from the governor, who can appoint the state attorney general's office to the case, or a court can appoint a special prosecutor if the elected one has a conflict of interest.

Police shootings don't automatically qualify as conflicts of interest and often are handled by local prosecutors.

"Just because the case is really hot and really controversial would not be a reason why I would seek a special prosecutor," said Eric Zahnd, a Kansas City-area prosecutor who is a past president of the Missouri Association of Prosecuting Attorneys.

Police say Brown failed to move out of the center of the street when Wilson asked him to, and a scuffle ensued before he was shot. Witnesses say Brown had his hands up as Wilson fired multiple rounds.

Wilson, a six-year police veteran who had no previous complaints against him, has been on paid administrative leave since the shooting and the department has refused to comment on his whereabouts. Associated Press reporters have been unable to contact him at any addresses or phone numbers listed under that name in the St. Louis area.

In the predominantly black St. Louis suburb of Ferguson, where the shooting occurred, many residents say they have long been harassed and intimidated by the police department, which has just three black officers on its 53-member force. They also have no confidence in McCulloch, who has been prosecutor since 1991.

"He's not going to prosecute the police officers," said Robert Fowler, a 48-year-old electrician. "In the ghetto ... every police officer, he's letting go free. They call it justifiable homicide."

Part of the skepticism stems from McCulloch's past. He comes from a family of police officers, and when McCulloch was a 12 years old, his father was fatally shot while responding to a call in 1964. Others point to a 2001 case, where McCulloch brought no charges against two officers who fired 21 shots into a vehicle, killing two black men during an attempted drug arrest.

A McCulloch spokesman told The Associated Press the prosecutor has no plans to step aside from the Brown case.

"The people of this county have placed their trust in me," McCulloch told TV station KMOV. "I've been as fair and impartial and done as thorough of a job as we could."

AP Photo

U.S. Rep. William Lacy Clay Jr., St. Louis County Executive Charlie Dooley and state Sens. Maria Chappelle-Nadal and Jamilah Nasheed - all of whom are black - have called on McCulloch to consent to a special prosecutor.

Nasheed started an online petition and got more than 15,000 signatures within two days seeking a special prosecutor.

"In the past, justice has not been achieved in these types of police shootings," said Clay, who represents the area. "So I have no comfort with local-authority prosecution, the judicial system or even police conducting a thorough and conclusive investigation that delivers justice to family of Michael Brown."

"Simply put: he has a natural bias," Chappelle-Nadal, the local state senator, said of McCulloch. "My community doesn't trust him."

Although it was not a racially charged scenario, Missouri does have a recent case in which a special prosecutor took over a highly publicized case.

Last October, a prosecutor in rural northwest Missouri asked a judge to appoint a special prosecutor after public concerns that he didn't do enough before dropping felony charges against a teenage boy accused of sexually assaulting a younger girl. A judge appointed a Kansas City area prosecutor to take a new look at the case, and Matthew Barnett pleaded guilty in January to misdemeanor child endangerment.


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