POLITICS
10/23/2014 04:24 am ET Updated Oct 23, 2014

Justice Department Condemns Leaks In Michael Brown Case As Attempt To 'Influence Public'

The Justice Department condemned a series of leaks from the investigation into the shooting of Michael Brown by a police officer in Ferguson, Mo., The Los Angeles Times reported. The death of the unarmed black teenager on Aug. 9 sparked weeks of protests and a national debate over police tactics.

The leaks from the official inquiry into the shooting appear to support the account of the incident given by Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson, that he and Brown struggled, and that he opened fire when Brown allegedly reached for his gun.

An unnamed Justice Department spokeswoman called the leaks "irresponsible and highly troubling" and said, "There seems to be an inappropriate effort to influence public opinion about this case," the Times reported.

An unidentified Justice Department official also told The Huffington Post's Ryan J. Reilly that Attorney General Eric Holder is "exasperated" by the apparent "selective leaks," in the case.

The leak of sensitive details about the official investigation have come from unnamed sources, and all seem to corroborate Wilson's account of what happened, that Brown attacked him in his car.

Unnamed government officials told The New York Times that Brown's blood was found on Wilson and on the interior of the police car, suggesting that at least some of the shots fired at Brown were at close range.

An official autopsy report obtained by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch revealed that Brown was shot in the hand at close range. The Post-Dispatch's report also cited experts not affiliated with the case who posited the findings suggest there was an altercation in the police car and that Brown was going for the officer's gun.

On Wednesday, unnamed sources told The Washington Post that seven or eight black witnesses have given testimony before a grand jury deciding whether to indict Wilson that was "consistent" with the officer's account. The witnesses have not gone public with their accounts for fear of their safety.

Other witnesses who have gone public about what they saw claim Brown was attempting to surrender when Wilson fired the fatal shots.

The release of the autopsy details was met with criticism by Ferguson officials and protesters; they say they're concerned that leaks from what is supposed to be a secret grand jury investigation indicate justice may be in jeopardy.

Ferguson resident and protester Patricia Byrnes told the Los Angeles Times, "There is no way there should be reports from all these anonymous sources and these 'leaks' ... This is supposed to play out in the courts and the justice system, and not the media," adding, "The whole damn system is guilty as hell."

St. Louis Alderman Antonio French, a prominent voice in the months following the incident, tweeted, "A non-transparent grand jury process and a leaky investigation is not the way the outcome of this important case should be determined."

Some protesters said they believe the leaks are intended to ready the public for the possibility that the grand jury will decide not to indict Wilson.

That decision is expected in November.

HuffPost

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