Huffpost Crime

Why Won't Police Release Michael Brown Incident Report? (UPDATED)

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FERGUSON POLICE CHIEF
St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar, left, delivers remarks as Ferguson Police Chief Thomas Jackson listens during a news conference, Sunday, Aug. 10, 2014 in Ferguson, Mo., where the men addressed issues surrounding the shooting of Michael Brown, 18, by Ferguson police Saturday, Aug. 9, 2014. Brown died following the confrontation with police, according to Belmar. (AP Photo/Sid Hastings) | ASSOCIATED PRESS

Ferguson Police Chief Thomas Jackson told reporters last week that media requests forced him to release an incident report and video that allegedly shows Michael Brown robbing a convenience store and stealing a box of cigars. But he has yet to release another incident report documenting Brown's killing, which various media outlets have also demanded.

"All I did — what I did was — was release the videotape to you, because I had to," Jackson told reporters when asked why he released the robbery footage. "I’d been sitting on it, but I — too many people put in a FOI request for that thing, and I had to release that tape to you."

Jackson later said that officer Darren Wilson, who fatally shot Brown, stopped him because he was walking in the middle of the street, not because he was a robbery suspect.

The two incidents took place about ten minutes apart, according to USA Today, and generated two different police reports.

But even after nearly two weeks of protests, which grew increasingly contentious the night following the release of the video tape, the incident report for the shooting remains secret.

"How do you pick and choose and decide what—the press has asked for a lot of stuff. That’s the only thing you’ve released," Rev. Clinton Stancil of St. Louis said on Democracy Now. "How did you come to that decision? What was your decision-making process?"

The choice not to release the incident report for the killing becomes all the more puzzling as sources, granted either partial or total anonymity, have begun talking to the media, telling what is purportedly officer Wilson's side of the story, which would be reflected in the incident report.

Former NYPD commissioner Ray Kelly, himself no stranger to controversy over heavy-handed police tactics, has said that the trickle of information released by authorities is helping to fuel the unrest that has engulfed Ferguson.

Telling the public what happened “certainly has the potential for quelling or lessening disturbances,” Kelly said. “You tell them what you know and tell them what you don’t know, rather than dribbling it out.”

Dennis Parker of the American Civil Liberties Union writes that the Ferguson Police Department's release of the robbery video calls "into question the department's commitment to ensuring an independent and impartial investigation into the killing of Michael Brown."

"The decision to disclose them suggests an attempt to assassinate Mr. Brown's character by showing that he had roughly pushed a convenience store clerk on the day that he was killed," Parker continued. "The one-sided and piecemeal disclosure of potentially irrelevant and prejudicial information, while continuing to withhold the critical police incident report that the public has demanded, suggests a desire to confuse rather than to shine a light on what happened."

UPDATE: Ferguson City Attorney, Stephanie Karr told The Huffington Post that the St. Louis County Police Department is in charge of deciding when the shooting incident report will be released.

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USA Today's Yamiche Alcindor provides an intimate look at how Michael Brown's parents have been dealing with the loss of their son:

Phones constantly ring with reporters asking for interviews or family members offering support. Last week, as demands reached a tipping point, both parents moved into hotels to shield themselves.

In the days leading up to the funeral, Brown's mother continued to cry and spoke in whispers as she tried to explain her feelings.

"They say tomorrow is going to be the hardest day, but I think today was — just seeing my baby laying there, cold," Lesley McSpadden, 34, told USA TODAY. "It did something to my heart. It's too much. It's too much."

Read the rest at USA Today.

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New audio has surfaced that allegedly captures the moment when Michael Brown, an unarmed black teenager, was shot dead by Darren Wilson, a white police officer, on Aug. 9.

CNN aired the unverified recording on Monday night. Six shots can be heard, followed by a pause, then several more. A private autopsy performed on Aug. 17 at the request of Brown's family found that the 18-year-old was shot 6 times, including twice in the head.

Read the rest here.

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USA Today reporter, Yamiche Alcindor shares photo of program which includes tributes to Michael Brown from his mother and father

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08/25/2014 11:57 AM EDT
Program For The Funeral
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08/25/2014 11:04 AM EDT
Noteworthy Funeral Attendees
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08/25/2014 10:58 AM EDT
Waiting For Brown's Family
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08/25/2014 10:57 AM EDT
Police Captain Ron Johnson Arrives
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08/25/2014 10:45 AM EDT
Mo. Sen. To Attend Funeral
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08/25/2014 10:37 AM EDT
Casket In Place

MSNBC reports:

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08/25/2014 10:35 AM EDT
Funeral Security
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08/25/2014 10:33 AM EDT
Brown's Father Asks For Peace
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MSNBC reports:

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08/25/2014 10:26 AM EDT
Hands Up
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08/25/2014 10:22 AM EDT
Sanctuary Filling Fast For Funeral

CNN reports:

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Missouri congressman Lacy Clay (D) said on Thursday that he had "serious concerns" about the prosecutor in charge of Michael Brown's case.

"I also have serious concerns about the local prosecutors, about their ability to fairly prosecute this case in the interests of justice. To deliver justice to this community, or to Michael Brown's family. And I say that because we have a track record," Clay told CNN.

Prosecuting Attorney Robert McCulloch has come under heavy scrutiny in the days following Brown's death. Critics say that McCulloch's ties to law enforcement will cloud his judgement and have called on Governor Jay Nixon (D) to appoint a special prosecutor instead. A petition against him has received over 70,000 signatures.

McCulloch's father was a police officer killed in the line of duty.

For his part, McCulloch has promised that his investigation will be fair and thorough. In a statement, he said:

I have no intention of walking away from the responsibilities and duties entrusted to me by the people of this community. Additionally, there is no basis in the law to do so. I have faithfully and fairly carried out those responsibilities and duties for more than two decades and will continue to do so for at least the next four years.

Nixon has also repeatedly insisted that he won't take McCulloch off the case.

Alana Horowitz

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From HuffPost's Dave Jamieson:

Like the rest of the St. Louis community, including their own teachers, Gateway students had emotional discussions about being black in America, about mistrust of the police, about peaceful demonstration and violent protest. They were asked to write down what they were feeling about Ferguson, with the assurance that no sentiments were out of bounds.

Click here to read excerpts from the responses penned by a group of 7th and 8th graders at the school.

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Washington Post reports that Darren Wilson was injured following a scuffle with Michael Brown before he shot and killed him.

A family friend told WaPo that Wilson's eye bone was fractured. Fox News reported similar information earlier this week, citing a police source.

Another source told CNN that these reports are false.

Last week, Ferguson Police Chief Tom Jackson told reporters that Wilson was taken to the hospital following the incident, but did not say for what.

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HuffPost's Arthur Delaney reports:

When Attorney General Eric Holder went to Ferguson, Missouri, on Wednesday, he assured local residents the U.S. Justice Department will swiftly investigate the police killing of an unarmed black teenager on Aug. 9.

In meetings with locals, Holder emphasized how his own past experiences will inform his work overseeing the Justice Department's investigation of Michael Brown's killing. He told students at a community college there that police searched his car when he'd been stopped for speeding on the New Jersey Turnpike.

"I remember how humiliating that was and how angry I was and the impact it had on me," Holder said. "The same kid who got stopped on the New Jersey freeway is now the attorney general of the United States."

But Holder's critics point out that this is the same man who was woefully soft on bad cops when he served as Washington, D.C.'s top prosecutor in the mid-1990s.

"Relying on Holder to take action is like sending a guy with a cup of water to put out a wildfire," said Gregory Lattimer, an attorney who has represented family members of people killed by D.C. police, including DeOnte Rawlings, a 14-year-old boy shot in the back of the head by an off-duty officer in 1997.

"[Holder] was part of the problem in D.C., not the solution," Lattimer said. "He says all the right things and then he goes out and defends the status quo."

Read more here.

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