CLAYTON, Mo. (AP) — Attorneys for the family of Michael Brown are urging restraint by both protesters and police once a grand jury decides whether the suburban St. Louis officer who shot him should face charges.
Attorneys Anthony Gray and Benjamin Crump held a news conference Thursday outside the St. Louis County Justice Center, where the grand jury is meeting and Dr. Michael Baden, who performed a private autopsy on the family’s behalf, was testifying. Brown’s parents, who were in Geneva this week as the U.N. Committee Against Torture heard testimony about U.S. policies, did not attend.
Their attorneys echoed Gov. Jay Nixon’s call for protesters to avoid rioting, looting and violence, but faulted him for not also calling on police to exercise restraint.
Police were widely criticized for using armored vehicles and tear gas to respond to mostly peaceful but occasionally violent protests in the days after Ferguson Officer Darren Wilson shot Brown, who was 18 and unarmed, after telling him and a friend to stop walking in the street.
Wilson told investigators he felt threatened while fighting with Brown from inside a police SUV, where an initial shot was fired, according to information provided to news outlets by people described as familiar with the investigation, but not otherwise identified.
Those same accounts said Wilson told investigators that after Brown fled the vehicle, he turned around in a threatening manner, prompting Wilson to fire the fatal shots. But some witnesses said Brown had his hands up.
Crump said attorneys would not talk about Baden’s testimony, except to say he had identified one additional entry wound in Brown’s chest after seeing results of an autopsy by the St. Louis County medical examiner. Crump did not elaborate on what that might mean.
Baden had earlier said Brown was shot at least six times, while the county autopsy determined he was shot six to eight times. A third autopsy conducted for the U.S. Department of Justice, which is investigating both the shooting and the Ferguson Police Department, has not been released.
Attorney General Eric Holder said Justice Department officials have been working with local officials to make sure the law enforcement response to any protests is appropriate.
“Certainly we want to ensure that people who have First Amendment rights have the ability to protest as they deem appropriate while at the same time making sure that we protect people in law enforcement and that we minimize the chances that any legitimate protest devolves into violence,” he said.