Justice Department officials meet with Ferguson city leaders

Michael Brown: Justice Department meeting with Ferguson, Mo., officials

Officials in Ferguson, Mo., were meeting Tuesday with Justice Department representatives to discuss their investigation of the police department connected to the shooting last summer of Michael Brown, an unarmed black 18-year-old, by a white police officer, according to a city spokesman.

Invited to the face-to-face meeting in the St. Louis area were Ferguson Police Chief Thomas Jackson, Mayor James Knowles III and City Manager John Shaw, said city spokesman Jeff Small.

“This is a meeting that was called by the DOJ,” Small said. “What will be discussed, we don’t know. Obviously, we are expecting any day now for the DOJ to announce the results of their investigation.”

In November, a St. Louis County grand jury declined to indict Darren Wilson in connection with Brown’s Aug. 9 shooting death.

The community is now awaiting results of Justice Department investigations into Wilson and the police department as a whole. The department is expected to criticize Ferguson police practices but Wilson is not expected to face federal civil rights charges.

The results are expected in coming days as outgoing Atty. Gen. Eric H. Holder Jr. prepares to leave the department.

The Brown family’s attorney, Benjamin Crump, did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Tuesday. But law clerk Adner Marcelin emailed that, "The Brown family has not spoken with the DOJ regarding their ongoing investigation." 

The shooting and the controversial grand jury decision that followed sparked street protests, rioting and looting. Protests have continued, but they quieted with the onset of winter weather, Small said.

The Ferguson spokesman declined to say where officials were meeting Tuesday “because of possible unrest that could occur given the volatility of the situation.”

He said it was not clear how soon the Justice Department would release results of its  investigation, and that the city had not been notified of the results despite leaks to the media, which he said have been “frustrating” to city officials.

“Once we know when they will release the findings to the public and or media, we will most likely be responding with a press conference on that day,” he said.

Small said that in preparation for the results being released, “security issues are being taken into concern at this stage on a day-to-day basis.”

But he said the mood in town is “not nearly the same” as it was in November.

David Whitt lives in the Canfield Green apartment complex where Brown was shot, and in the wake of his death joined protests against the police, eventually forming neighborhood watch-style patrols using body cameras to record police.

He expects the Justice Department to side with the city and is not hopeful their findings will improve local policing.

“It’s ridiculous. It’s all a charade,” Whitt said Tuesday. “I’m more concerned about what the police are going to do when the weather breaks, how they are going to respond. Because people are going to be on the streets, whether it’s just protesters or people outside. We’ve got to keep an eye on them.”

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