Panel to hear evidence in Mo. shooting

Holder arriving for federal probe


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FERGUSON, Mo. — A Missouri state prosecutor on Tuesday prepared to present evidence to a grand jury in the police shooting death of an unarmed black teenager, hours before Attorney General Eric Holder was set to arrive to personally oversee the federal investigation.

A spokesman for Robert McCulloch, the St. Louis County prosecutor, said a grand jury planned to begin hearing evidence today in the shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown by Darren Wilson, a white Ferguson police officer. It remained unclear whether Officer Wilson would face charges in the Aug. 9 incident, which has triggered days of violent protest and dozens of arrests.

“We know this is of interest to a lot of people around the country,” spokesman Edward Magee said. “We’re going to do this fairly and also attempt to do it in a timely manner.”

In the nearby suburb of Clayton, a small group of demonstrators who had gathered across the street from Mr. McCulloch’s office grew in size and fervor Tuesday. Chanting “No justice, no peace, no racist police,” the crowd rushed to the glass-front atrium of the county office building and was met by a wall of heavily armed police officers. At least two people were arrested.

A large crowd also gathered Tuesday afternoon in nearby St. Louis after officers responding to a report of a store robbery shot and killed a knife-wielding man. Police Chief Sam Dotson said the suspect acted erratically and told responding officers to “shoot me now, kill me now.”

Some members of the crowd shouted “Hands up, don’t shoot,” a phrase that has become a frequent part of protests since Mr. Brown’s death. Like Mr. Brown, the 23-year-old suspect killed Tuesday was black.

In all, more than 78 people have been arrested in Ferguson since the protests began, according to St. Louis County police. About 40 of them were arrested Monday night alone, as small groups of demonstrators faced off with officers firing tear gas. Two people were shot in Ferguson during the chaotic night, apparently by others in the crowd; police said no officers fired their weapons.

The St. Louis county executive and other local black leaders have challenged Mr. McCulloch’s fitness to handle the case, in part because his father, a police officer, was killed in the line of duty when Mr. McCulloch was 12 years old. The man who shot his father was black. County Executive Charlie Dooley has said he also feels that Mr. McCulloch acted inappropriately when he publicly criticized Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon’s decision to bring in the state highway patrol to lead efforts to quell the violent street protests that erupted after Mr. Brown’s death.

Mr. McCulloch has declined to step aside and has said his father’s death does not affect his judgment. His investigation of Mr. Brown’s death is being monitored by the U.S. Justice Department and the FBI, which are also investigating the shooting in an expanding federal probe that has yielded more than 200 interviews. Mr. Holder will arrive in Ferguson today to meet with federal prosecutors and agents.

The new developments came on a day in which the first public indications emerged of Officer Wilson’s version of events on that fateful day.

The officer, who is on paid administrative leave and whose whereabouts is unknown, has told investigators that he struggled with Mr. Brown in his police cruiser and opened fire out of fear for his life after Mr. Brown charged at him, according to people familiar with Officer Wilson’s account.

Mr. Brown’s family has said their son was shot with his hands in the air in an execution-style slaying.

Although the state investigation is ongoing, Mr. McCulloch’s office confirmed Tuesday that it has been in contact with Officer Wilson’s attorney and has obtained a full statement regarding the officer’s version of events. The prosecutors would not elaborate.

The Justice Department, which ordered its own autopsy of Mr. Brown’s body, has reached conclusions similar to those reached in two other autopsies, people familiar with the findings said Tuesday. Those autopsies, by the county medical examiner and by a medical examiner brought in by the teen’s family, concluded that Mr. Brown was shot six times.

At all levels, the citizens of Ferguson remain frustrated with law enforcement, Missouri state Rep. Sharon Pace said Tuesday. Ms. Pace, a Democrat who represents the section of Ferguson where Mr. Brown was killed, said county and federal officials need to publicly define their roles in the investigations and outline the next steps they will take.

Earlier in the day, police said they had come under “heavy gunfire” Monday night during another night of violence in this battle-scarred community of 21,000 people. At a news conference, Capt. Ron Johnson of the Missouri State Highway Patrol said officers refrained from firing back at the protesters. Numerous fires were also set, he said.

Capt. Johnson said Monday night’s two shooting victims were both men, but he had no information on their condition or identities. He stressed that “not a single bullet was fired by officers.”

United States - North America - Eric Holder - Missouri - Jay Nixon - Missouri state government - Michael Brown - Missouri State Highway Patrol

Associated Press contributed.


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