Michael Brown Family Will File Civil Suit for Wrongful Death Against Darren Wilson [UPDATE]

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Jessica Lussenhop
Michael Brown's family at a protest in Clayton last summer.

Updated with a response from Darren Wilson's attorney, Neil Bruntrager.

At a press conference this morning, attorneys for the family of slain teenager Michael Brown announced their intention to file a civil suit for wrongful death.

Attorney Daryl Parks announced that former Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson will definitely be named in the suit as the "perpetrator," as will the city of Ferguson itself.

"They do not accept the self-defense theory," said Parks. "The standard we have is totally different. Criminal standard is criminal standard. A civil standard is a different standard."

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Ferguson Mayor Says Police Department Employee Fired Over Racist Email

Categories: Ferguson

Jessica Lussenhop
Mayor James Knowles III responds to DOJ report without Chief Tom Jackson.

In an extremely brief appearance Wednesday night, Ferguson mayor James Knowles responded to the damning U.S. Department of Justice report on the practices and procedures of the town's police department. The press conference was supposed to include remarks from Chief Tom Jackson, but a spokesman for the city told reporters at the last minute that Jackson would not be there after all. The mayor took no questions.

Much of Knowles' statement rehashed ongoing efforts to reform the city's courts and ticketing systems, but there was some news: The three police department employees responsible for racist emails uncovered by the DOJ were placed on administrative leave on Tuesday, and one was fired Wednesday. Knowles also highlighted the fact that three African American women have been hired to fill positions in the city jail and courts, and the city is hiring three new police officers. He did not, however, comment on whether the city will enter a consent decree with the DOJ, promising to reform police department practices.

Former mayor Brian Fletcher, who was at the press event, told Daily RFT that he'd spoken to city manager John Shaw. According to Fletcher, Shaw indicated that the city would not fight the DOJ's recommendations and characterized them as "reasonable requirements the city can honor."

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Ferguson Police Tolerate Sexual Harassment of Female Officers: Justice Department

Categories: Ferguson

Danny Wicentowski
The Department of Justice says it found evidence that the Ferguson Police Department "tolerates sexual harassment by male officers."
Buried in footnote No. 61 of the Department of Justice's damning report on the Ferguson Police Department's widespread problems with racial bias, investigators say they also found evidence that the department tolerates sexual harassment of female officers by male officers.

The footnote follows a section about the lack of diversity on Ferguson's police force. Only 4 of Ferguson's 54 sworn officers are African American, despite the city's two-thirds black population. Adding more black officers, coupled with other widespread reforms of the police department, "has the potential to increase community confidence in the police department," according to the justice department's 102-page report.

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30 Shameful Stories About Ferguson Police from the Department of Justice Report

Categories: Ferguson, Racism

Chad Garrison
Ferguson police chief Tom Jackson reveals the name of the officer who shot Michael Brown.
The U.S. Department of Justice released the results of two Ferguson-related investigations Wednesday.

One of those investigations focused on the August 9 shooting of unarmed teen Michael Brown by then-Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson. For more on that, read our story: DOJ Tells Michael Brown Family There Will Be No Charges for Darren Wilson

The other report expounded on Ferguson's legal tactics as a whole, revealing how the police department and court systems engage in systematic racial discrimination, in part supported by racially biased beliefs held by city officials.

After reading the 102-page report from the justice department, Daily RFT compiled 30 of the stories researchers used in the report to illustrate how the police department's rampant discrimination harmed police relations with Ferguson residents, especially black residents, contributing to the weekslong protests sparked there by Brown's death.

Here are 30 of the most illuminating stories quoted straight from the justice department report, in no particular order.

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DOJ Tells Michael Brown Family There Will Be No Charges for Darren Wilson

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Bryan Sutter
Lesley McSpadden, center, Michael Brown's mother, and Michael Brown Sr., right.

In a two hour long meeting at the St. Louis headquarters of the FBI, officials from the U.S. Department of Justice informed the parents of Michael Brown that there will be no federal criminal charges against former-Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson. Michael Brown Sr. left the meeting halfway through, according to his wife, Cal.

"Of course my husband is heart broken," said Michael Brown Sr.'s wife Cal. "My husband wasn't really able to stomach sitting in its entirety so we left...he said he couldn't stand to hear them go through the evidence like that."

"They're pretty disappointed," said president of the local St. Louis NAACP chapter Adolphus Pruitt, who was also in the meeting. "It was two hours of getting disappointing news, and a vivid debate and discussion on the merits of their decision and the demerits of the decision."

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And Now, Two (Not) Hilarious Racist Jokes from Ferguson Officials' Emails

Categories: Ferguson

Lindsay Toler
"Did you hear the one about Obama?"
To the surprise of basically no one, a U.S. Department of Justice probe into Ferguson found evidence of rampant and systemic racial discrimination in Ferguson's police and courts, according to media summaries of the upcoming report.

The report, expected to be released in full Wednesday, supports what black St. Louisans have been saying publicly since the August 9 police shooting of unarmed teen Michael Brown in Ferguson: that police disproportionately target them, violate their Constitutional rights and contribute to the racial enmity that spurred protests against police brutality across the region last year.

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Saint Louis University Has 46-Year History of Negotiating with Protesters

Danny Wicentowski
Hundreds of students and protesters gathered around the Saint Louis University clock tower in October, and organizers demanded an end to "white supremacy."
Saint Louis University is having a bit of a statue problem.

The statue, a proposed monument to the Occupy SLU movement of students and protesters who camped out on the school's midtown campus for six days in October, has raised the self-righteous hackles of some of the Jesuit university's alumni. Some donors have threatened to cut off support. One alumna told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch she closed her wallet because SLU president Fred Pestello chose to negotiate with the protesters, a sign that the St. Louis institution is becoming a "liberal environment."

Indeed, with all the hubbub over Pestello's handling of Occupy SLU and subsequent donor condemnation, you'd be forgiven for thinking the recent news coming out of SLU is, well, new. You would be wrong. A look back at the 1969 occupation of SLU's Ritter Hall reveals that negotiating with protesters has long been part of the university's heritage.

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Federal Investigation Finds Racial Bias, Discrimination in Ferguson Police Dept: NYT

Categories: Ferguson

Danny Wicentowski
The report attributes anger and frustration seen in the Ferguson protests to years of racially discriminatory police tactics.
The Ferguson Police Department may be in for some major changes as the U.S. Department of Justice prepares to release a scathing report on the department's racially discriminatory tactics, according to the New York Times.

The report accuses Ferguson police of unfairly targeting blacks in traffic stops, causing years of pent-up animosity and racial enmity that culminated in weekslong protests after the August 9 shooting of Michael Brown by a then-Ferguson officer, anonymous officials briefed on the investigation tell the Times.

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McCulloch Explains Why Darren Wilson Wasn't Cross-Examined During Ferguson Grand Jury

Categories: Ferguson

St. Louis County prosecuting attorney Bob McCulloch defended himself to a crowd of students, faculty and some protesters at SLU on Friday.
There are times when transparency can come back to bite you.

Exhibit A: Bob McCulloch, St. Louis County prosecuting attorney. McCulloch's decision to release hundreds of pages of transcripts has not, as he had hoped, satisfied those critics who accuse the seven-term prosecutor of mishandling (or outright manipulating) the grand-jury investigation of former Ferguson officer Darren Wilson. In November, a grand jury failed to indict Wilson for the shooting death of unarmed black teen Michael Brown.

"I find it hard to understand how anyone can complain that we gave this grand jury too much information," McCulloch told a crowd Friday, when he found himself on the defensive throughout much of a symposium on "Policing Post-Ferguson" held at Saint Louis University's School of Law.

"Maybe I'm missing something," he mused. "You may not like the evidence, you may pick it apart, and I expect that on any kind of case, but it's right there in front of you."

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Justice Department Considers Suing Ferguson Police For Racial Discrimination: CNN

Categories: Ferguson

Chad Garrison
Chief Tom Jackson releases the name of Darren Wilson, the officer who fatally shot Michael Brown, to the media.
The U.S. Department of Justice may sue Ferguson police after uncovering a pattern of racially discriminatory tactics unless the department agrees to make changes on its own, according to a CNN report.

The department isn't expected to charge Darren Wilson, the ex-Ferguson officer who fatally shot unarmed teen Michael Brown, with a crime, anonymous sources tell CNN. Federal investigators opened two probes -- into the shooting and into the Ferguson Police Department's methods -- soon after the August shooting.

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