Findings of federal Ferguson shooting inquiry could be announced soon

Atty. Gen. Eric H. Holder Jr. said Tuesday that he soon will announce the findings of a federal criminal investigation into the police shooting death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., as well as an administrative review of that police department’s use-of-force policies and its relations with the African American community there. 

He said he was confident that "the people will be satisfied with the results that we announce."

“My hope is that we will do this before I leave office, and I'm confident that we will do that -- though I guess it's ultimately up to Congress as to when I actually leave office,” he said at a Washington news conference. 

Holder announced last year that he was stepping down after six years as attorney general in the Obama administration. The president nominated U.S. Atty. Loretta Lynch to replace him. She has testified at a Senate confirmation hearing, and Congress is expected to take up her nomination when it returns from its weeklong Presidents Day vacation next week. 

Many critics of Holder and the White House have suggested that the attorney general was planning to leave the Ferguson decisions to Lynch. But, joking to a roomful of reporters at the National Press Club, Holder said, “You would think, in some ways that her, Loretta’s, process would be sped up, given their desire to see me out of office.” Holder has frequently sparred with GOP members of Congress.

Referring to the new Republican-controlled Senate, Holder said, “Logic has never been necessarily a guide up there.” 

Turning serious, he said: “My hope would be to make these determinations before I go. The reviews are underway. I was briefed on both of them just last week. I'm satisfied with the progress that we have made, and also comfortable in saying that I think I'm going to be able to make those calls before I leave office.”

Officer Darren Wilson, who is white, shot and killed Brown, an 18-year-old African American, during an altercation in August in the St. Louis suburb. A local county grand jury in November declined to indict the officer. 

The shooting and the grand jury’s rejection of the case set off riots in Ferguson and protests around the country. 

Holder announced his separate federal investigation in September and visited the community, where he met with local leaders, the Brown family and police. At one point Holder said that the Ferguson Police Department needed significant reforms. 

Asked Tuesday about those comments, the attorney general pledged his investigation has been “independent, thorough and based only on the facts and the law.” 

He also was asked about the large number of military vehicles that police used to suppress the rioters and protesters, which only inflamed tensions. 

“The deployment of at least some of that military hardware in Ferguson exacerbated what was a pretty difficult situation,” Holder said. “On the other hand, if you're in New York City and you have to deal with a terrorist incident, I think that some of the military equipment that has been made available to state and local authorities, in fact, can be useful.”

Copyright © 2016, Los Angeles Times

UPDATE

3:09 p.m.: The story was updated with more background, comments from the press conference.

This post was first published at 1:59 p.m.

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