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

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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

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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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Here's the Agreement that Ended the Occupation of Saint Louis University

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Danny Wicentowski
Hundreds of protesters swarmed the Saint Louis University campus last week, demanding action. It seems the university's president listened.
The sit-in dubbed Occupy SLU ended quietly this weekend. By Saturday afternoon, not a tent could be found near the clock tower where protesters massed during the early morning hours of October 13, waving upside-down American flags, raising fists in the air and calling to Saint Louis University students -- "Out of the dorms, into the streets!"

The movement to occupy the private, Jesuit institution kicked off last week's "Moral Monday," and by that day's end more than 50 people had been arrested in a series of protest events around St. Louis. On October 18 protesters and school officials agreed to end the sit-in. In a written statement, SLU president Fred Pestello attributed the end Occupy SLU to "many intense hours of outreach and conversation" with protesters and other community activists.

However, it seems that those intense conversations yielded more than just a broadly worded statement from SLU's president. Shortly after protesters left the campus, a photo of a printed agreement between the school and three protest groups began circulating on social media and right-wing blogs.


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

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Jessica Lussenhop
Michael Brown Sr., far left, visits the spot where his son died.
Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson testified to investigators that Michael Brown pinned him in his police vehicle and struggled over his gun before Wilson shot Brown six times and killed him.

That's according to the New York Times, who quote "government officials briefed on the federal civil rights investigation" and FBI reports in the first public account of the altercation from Wilson's perspective. Wilson has already testified to the St. Louis grand jury investigating his case, and the FBI is running a concurrent criminal investigation while the department of justice performs a civil rights investigation.


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Michael Brown's Mother: Do Not Write in My Son's Name for St. Louis County Executive

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

Yesterday, the family of slain teenager Michael Brown and their attorneys incorporated a new organization: the Michael O.D. Brown We Love Our Sons & Daughters Foundation. The group's first order of business came today in the form of a plea from Brown's mother, Lesley McSpadden, and was titled "Regarding Unauthorized Use: Name and Likeness of the Late Michael O.D. Brown":

"I am asking all well-intentioned family members, neighbors, businesses, associations, organizations or individuals associated with social media or any activists or affiliated groups, and any and all Missouri politicians NOT to add any additional drama into our lives," she wrote in a statement. "We ask that no flyers, wearing apparel, print or video usage of Michael's name, image or likeness, be used in connection with a WRITE-IN candidate campaign."

The statement refers to the upcoming November 4 St. Louis county executive race between Rick Stream and Steve Stenger. Some activists feel that neither Stream, who is Republican, nor Stenger, a Democrat who's publicly stood by County Prosecutor Bob McCulloch, will address their concerns about racial injustice in Ferguson and the county. For many weeks, calls to "write in Michael Brown" have been heard at marches and county board meetings.

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Ferguson Authorities: There Is No "Evacuation" Plan for Residents [UPDATE]

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Jessica Lussenhop
Outside the Ferguson Police Department.

Update: Daily RFT just spoke with Mustafa Hussein from Argus Streaming News. He takes exception to Devin James' claim that the two have never spoken. Post updated with his remarks.

Throughout the day on Thursday, rumors rippled on Twitter that Ferguson authorities were formulating an "evacuation plan" for residents. The origin point seemed to be a tweet by the account @argusnewsnow or "Argus Streaming News."

"BREAKING: #Ferguson residents told to 'Create an evacuation plan or hunker down,'" the account posted at 11:25 a.m. "We will keep you posted as more details emerge."

About two hours later, the account tweeted again saying the information came from Devin James, the city's PR representative. Late yesterday afternoon, however, Daily RFT spoke to Ferguson police information officer Tim Zoll, and he told us he'd been asking around about the alleged "evacuation plan."

"Everyone looks at me like I'm on crack or something," he said.

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ACLU: Police Used "Five Second Rule" to Arrest Ferguson Protesters at Random

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Danny Wicentowski
Officers arresting protesters the night of August 18. Nineteen people were charged with failing to disperse that day.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Missouri argued to a federal judge Monday that St. Louis County and Missouri State Highway Patrol are enforcing an unconstitutional "five second rule" that allows cops to arrest protesters at will.

Known as either the "five second rule" or "keep moving rule," the controversial police tactic was sprung on protesters August 18, nine days after Ferguson cop Darren Wilson shot and killed eighteen-year-old Michael Brown. Police threatened protesters with arrest if they stopped moving, forcing crowds into grueling marches to avoid violating the ill-defined rule.

According to the witnesses brought by the ACLU, police used the tactic arbitrarily, harassing some protesters and letting others go. St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar admitted yesterday the rule even confused officers, who misinterpreted his orders and used the "five second rule" to arrest protesters during the peaceful daytime hours.

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Gun Incident at Faraci Pizza Leads to Confrontations with Protesters [Updated]

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Danny Wicentowski
Protesters claim the owner of Faraci Pizza pointed a gun at them Thursday night, but the restaurant owner's wife says that's a lie.
Tensions spiked in Ferguson this weekend following two officer-involved shootings Saturday night and early Sunday morning. However, the earliest signs of trouble perhaps began at Faraci Pizza, a few blocks south of the Ferguson police headquarters on South Florissant Avenue

When Daily RFT arrived at Faraci Pizza around 6:30 p.m. Saturday, the pizza joint was being guarded by two police cruisers and officers near the door. Protesters chanted about "racist pizza" and demanded the officers investigate Jim Marshall, the eatery's owner. Many protesters claimed Marshall had pulled a gun on a group of non-violent demonstrators on Thursday night.

But Marshall's wife, Dawne, tells Daily RFT the protesters have it all wrong: She says her husband was afraid for his safety, so he cocked a pistol and placed it in his pocket while inside the store. She says he never aimed the weapon at anybody. She also says their business has endured days of harassment over a "lie that went wildfire" on social media.

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Ferguson Police Have Case File for Mya Aaten-White, Bullet's Location Still in Question

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Jessica Lussenhop
Mya Aaten-White, center, with her attorneys Verona Swanigan and Marwan Porter.

Just over a month ago, Daily RFT broke the strange story of Mya Aaten-White, the woman who was shot in the head as she left one of the first protests following the killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson. Aaten-White's shooting was characterized to media as a "drive-by," and a selfie she managed to take in the ambulance on the way to the hospital went viral.

The bullet pierced Aaten-White's skull but miraculously stopped about a millimeter from her brain. She was taken to a hospital where doctors extracted it -- and that's all the information anyone could get. As of our last report, no one from the police had interviewed Aaten-White, neither Ferguson nor St. Louis County police had case files about the incident, and most puzzling of all, the bullet seemed to have gone missing.

Now we have some new information, including that incident report. Other questions persist.

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Jennings Man Says St. Louis County Police Shot, Killed His Dog During Ferguson Protests

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Screengrab from YouTube user Umar Lee
Talal Ahmed says St. Louis County police shot his dog.
Talal Ahmed says he was just trying to get home one night last month during the height of the Ferguson protests.

He was riding his bike through the Family Dollar parking lot across the street from his house in Jennings, located just blocks away from the apartments where Michael Brown was shot and killed by a Ferguson police officer, when he was stopped by four cops.

"'Get the fuck off the bike,'" he remembers an officer yelling.

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