Justice Department to Announce Probe of Ferguson Police Department

By Chuck Raasch; > | St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO), September 4, 2014 | Go to article overview

Justice Department to Announce Probe of Ferguson Police Department


Chuck Raasch; >, St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)


WASHINGTON * The Justice Department is preparing to announce as early as Thursday that it will expand its investigation of the police shooting death of Michael Brown, 18, into a broader civil rights probe of the practices of the Ferguson Police Department.

Ferguson Mayor James Knowles said Wednesday night that he had met at Ferguson City Hall with two Department of Justice employees from Washington on Wednesday afternoon.

Knowles said he was surprised that a decision had been made so quickly.

"It's surprising to me that the story was filed less than 1 hours after I met with them," he said. "They told me they would report their findings to higher-ups and a decision would be made."

"I told them honestly that we're not hiding anything, so if someone wants to look into this, I welcome it," Knowles said. "I have nothing to hide and neither does our city, and we will comply and participate with their investigation. I hope this will restore confidence in our police department and the city government."

"I hope that at some point we'll be able to tell our story and people will listen," Knowles said.

A law enforcement official who has been briefed on the plan confirmed to the Post-Dispatch on Wednesday that the investigation will initially focus on Ferguson. The Washington Post first reported on the expanded investigation by the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division, saying the investigation would also include other St. Louis County jurisdictions. But the law enforcement official who has been briefed on the plan said the civil rights investigation would cover only Ferguson.

The official would not speculate on whether the investigation could broaden to other St. Louis County departments and jurisdictions.

Brown was killed by Ferguson Police officer Darren Wilson on Aug. 9. In the aftermath, amid demonstrations, looting and violence erupted. Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon eventually called in the Missouri National Guard and the Highway Patrol to help police in the aftermath. On Wednesday, Nixon removed the state of emergency declaration for Ferguson.

Two days after the shooting, the Justice Department announced it would conduct its own investigation, but Attorney General Eric Holder emphasized that it would be concurrent with any investigation by local police, not supersede it.

A St. Louis County grand jury has been hearing evidence.

The expansion into a broader civil rights investigation of the practices, procedures and use of force by the Ferguson department would follow a pattern of the Justice Department under Holder. …

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