St. Louis Post-Dispatch, March 5, 2015
The parents of Michael Brown plan to file a wrongful-death lawsuit in the near future, their attorneys announced Thursday. They will sue the city of Ferguson and Darren Wilson, the former Ferguson police officer who fatally shot their son.
That news followed Wednesday’s release of the U.S. Justice Department report on its investigation into the shooting on Aug. 9.
The report concluded that it was reasonable for Wilson to be afraid of Brown in their encounter last summer, and thus the officer cannot be prosecuted for killing the unarmed 18-year-old.
The decisions by state and federal authorities not to charge Wilson have no legal bearing on a civil case, said Steve Ryals, a local civil rights attorney.
But, as a practical matter, the lack of charges could influence a jury.
“It’s going to be virtually impossible to find a panel that has not heard of this,” Ryals said. “In the mind of many people, the decision of federal government is the end.”
Brown’s parents–Lesley McSpadden and Michael Brown Sr.–said nothing as they stood behind their attorneys at a news conference Thursday at Greater St. Mark Family Church near Ferguson.
Brown family attorney Anthony Gray said the civil suit would “outline pretty much the same evidence” that state and federal prosecutors considered.
“However, you will get a more clear, more accurate picture of what took place that day,” Gray said. “We feel, as we’ve always felt from the very beginning, that Officer Darren Wilson did not have to shoot and kill Mike Brown Jr. in broad daylight in the manner that he did. That other options (were) available to him.”