McCulloch Satisfied That Twitter User Boasting Insider Knowledge of Grand Jury was "Hacked"

Categories: Ferguson

The tweet that started an investigation by the St. Louis County prosecutor's office (background via Google Street View)

The tweet appeared on Wednesday, October 1.

"I know someone sitting on the grand jury in this case," it read. "There isn't enough at this point to warrant an arrest #Ferguson."

Although it was deleted within moments, eagle-eyed activists quickly screen-grabbed it and began asking why a member of the grand jury in the Michael Brown shooting was blabbing about the closed court proceedings to a friend, who was then unwisely sharing the insights on Twitter. When St. Louis Prosecutor Bob McCulloch's office contacted the woman -- according to her profile, her name is Susan M. Nichols -- she claimed her account was "hacked."

Late yesterday, McCulloch released the results of his inquiry and agreed that she had indeed been hacked. However, it turns out that it's not at all clear where the tweet came from, and McCulloch's conclusions rest mainly on Nichols' word.

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Without Darren Wilson's Testimony, St. Louis County Prosecutor Drops 5 Felony Cases

Categories: Ferguson

UPI/Bill Greenblatt
St. Louis County prosecuting attorney Bob McCulloch.
St. Louis County prosecuting attorney Bob McCulloch dismissed five pending felony court cases Wednesday because they depend on testimony from Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson.

Wilson is a key witness in the five cases, which cannot continue without his testimony.

Wilson, who fatally shot unarmed teen Michael Brown on August 9 and set off weeks of protests and backlash against police, has been in hiding since the shooting. Wilson, who is on paid administrative leave, emerged briefly to testify in Clayton to the grand jury investigating Brown's death, but he was not seen in public.

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Ferguson Police Chief Says CNN Report Is Wrong, Denies Plans to Resign

Categories: Ferguson

Chad Garrison
Chief Tom Jackson releases the name of the officer who fatally shot Michael Brown to the media.
CNN caused quite a stir late Tuesday by breaking the news that Ferguson police chief Tom Jackson will step down soon as part of a multifaceted plan to overhaul the department.

But so far, there's no sign that CNN's big scoop is true.

Jackson, St. Louis County's police chief Jon Belmar, Ferguson mayor John Knowles and other police, city and county officials repeatedly and resoundingly told media Jackson has no immediate plans to step down, nor is he being fired.

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Columnist Calls Michael Brown an Animal for Darren Wilson to "Put Down," Then Deletes It

Bryan Sutter
Michael Brown's parents, Lesley McSpadden and Michael Brown Sr., march wearing images of their dead son.
A columnist from a newspaper in Charleston, West Virginia, deleted a personal blog post -- which referred to Michael Brown's death as "put[ting] this animal down" -- after it started drawing attention online.

Don Surber, who writes editorials for the Charleston Daily Mail, originally wrote that Brown was a "gigantic thug who was higher than a kite" and that Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson "had to put this animal down" in a post called "Why I Stop Listening When You Say Police Brutality." Surber uses Brown's death to share his opinion that police should be heavily equipped to fight against "the hundred thousand or so thugs" who threaten "decent people."

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Police Violated Human Rights, Press Freedom During Ferguson Protests: Reports

Categories: Ferguson

Danny Wicentowski
A family watches police in riot gear move into Ferguson in the early days of the August protests.
Two major human-rights watchdog organizations have released reports documenting how the police response to protests over the police shooting of an unarmed teen in Ferguson violated rights of protesters and journalists.

Amnesty International, which exposes human rights abuses worldwide, and PEN American Center, which defends free expression, published troubling reports Friday and Tuesday, respectively, detailing restrictions on peaceful protesters and journalists covering demonstrations ranging from curfews to arrests and physical harm.

"Standing on West Florissant Avenue with my colleagues, I saw a police force, armed to the teeth, with military-grade weapons," said Steven W. Hawkins, executive director of Amnesty International USA. "I saw a crowd that included the elderly and young children fighting the effects of tear gas. There must be accountability and systemic change that follows this excessive force."

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Attorneys: Darren Wilson Indictment Unlikely

Theo Welling
Any indictment might be hard to get, say attorneys, especially a murder charge.
Darren Wilson will not be charged with first-degree murder, and there's a good chance he won't be indicted for any crime, say attorneys who are following -- but are not directly involved -- in the grand-jury investigation of the Ferguson police officer.

Last week, Daily RFT gathered the thoughts of several legal experts (criminal defense lawyers and former prosecutors) as leaks from the grand jury once again stoked controversy surrounding the August 9 shooting of eighteen-year-old Michael Brown. Those leaks, including allegations that Brown tried to take Wilson's gun, as well as an autopsy report of Brown's body that suggested the victim was shot once at close range and may not have had his hands up when killed, all seem to the bolster the case for the cop.

See also: Michael Brown Family: Media Leaks Show Pro-Darren Wilson Bias, Bungled Investigation

"It's almost like they are trying to prepare the general public to accept a no true bill," says criminal defense lawyer Nick Zotos of the leaks.

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Bill Maher: Michael Brown "Was Acting Like a Thug," But Wilson Is a "Plain Murderer"

Categories: Blowback, Ferguson

Bill Maher talks about Michael Brown and Darren Wilson on his HBO show.
While a St. Louis grand jury deliberates indicting Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson, it seems like everybody else wants to have their say on the shooting death of Michael Brown.

The latest celebrity to weigh in is comedian and talk show host Bill Maher, known for not shying away from controversial opinions.

During his HBO show Real Time with Bill Maher, Maher angered Brown family supporters by implying that Brown was acting like a thug before his fatal encounter with Wilson.

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9 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Dressing like a Ferguson Protester for Halloween

Categories: Ferguson

Steve Truesdell
A demonstrator protects his face from tear gas in Ferguson.
Halloween has always been an excuse to wear costumes that would be offensive and inappropriate on any other day of the year: dead Trayvon Martin, "terrorists," Boston Marathon bombing victims.

(We've already seen way more Ray Rice and battered Janay Palmer costumes this year than we ever needed to, and we haven't even clicked on the blackface ones.)

This year offers a new threat: the Ferguson protester costume, complete with "Hands Up, Don't Shoot" sign, live-streaming smartphone and anti-tear gas mask.

See also: 15 Signs You're a Ferguson/Shaw Protester

Before you decide to translate anger over police shootings in Ferguson and Shaw into your get-up for the scariest night of the year, Daily RFT requests that you give a little thought to your choice.

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Michael Brown Family: Media Leaks Show Pro-Darren Wilson Bias, Bungled Investigation

Jessica Lussenhop
Eric Davis addresses a rally in Clayton in September with Michael Brown's mother, Lesley McSpadden.

The family of eighteen-year-old Michael Brown first heard about leaked information from the investigation into the teenager's August 9 shooting death on Friday. A family pastor called the father, Michael Brown Sr., to tell him about a story in the New York Times ("Police Officer in Ferguson is Said to Recount a Struggle").

Soon, both sides of the family were calling one another, reacting to subsequent articles in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch ("Source: Darren Wilson says Michael Brown kept charging at him") and the Washington Post ("Evidence supports officer's account of shooting in Ferguson"). All three credit unnamed sources and include a St. Louis County medical examiner's autopsy report on Brown Jr., as well as the account of the shooting given by Officer Darren Wilson to a grand jury. Most of the details included in the stories seem to point to a justified shooting (read more about those stories here).

Daily RFT reached Eric Davis, Brown Jr.'s cousin, and a family spokesman, to get their reaction to the leaks. Davis talked about the conversations he's had with Lesley McSpadden, Brown Jr.'s mother, since reports began appearing.

"We've asked from the inception of this investigation to have Bob McCulloch recuse himself and have an independent investigator assigned," he said. "What we feared would be happening with the case being here, with the leaks, is actually happening. We just feel like there's bias toward the police officer."

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Ferguson Protesters React to Leaked Darren Wilson Testimony, Michael Brown Autopsy

Danny Wicentowski
Students hit the streets for a national day of protest Wednesday, the day two more leaked reports about Michael Brown and Darren Wilson were published.
Reporting by Mitch Ryals, Danny Wicentowski, Lindsay Toler and Jessica Lussenhop

The investigation into the death of Michael Brown has sprung a leak.

Three leaks, in fact. First, the New York Times published details from the Ferguson police officer who fatally shot Brown, Darren Wilson. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch then got its hands on the official autopsy. And finally the Washington Post announced that several black witnesses have given testimony that matches Wilson's version of events.

See also: Darren Wilson Tells Why He Feared For His Life Before Shooting Michael Brown: NYT

After months of keeping a tight lid on the grand jury and civil rights investigations into Brown's death, the leaks feel like a little more than coincidence, especially as the city braces for the potential violence if Wilson is not indicted with a charge in Brown's death.

So what's really going on here? The Department of Justice said it best, to the Los Angeles Times: "The department considers the selective release of information in this investigation to be irresponsible and highly troubling. Since the release of the convenience-store footage, there seems to be an inappropriate effort to influence public opinion about this case."

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