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article imageReport: U.S. authorities to probe Ferguson police conduct

By Nathan Salant     Sep 4, 2014 in Crime
Ferguson - The U.S. Justice Department plans to launch a full-scale investigation into alleged civil rights abuses by police in Ferguson, Missouri, where two weeks of sometimes violent protests followed the fatal shooting of an unarmed teenager last month.
Attorney General Eric Holder could announce the investigation by the department's highly respected civil right division as early as Thursday, sources told the Washington Post newspaper.
The probe is expected to include examinations of police culture in Ferguson, a majority black suburb of St. Louis served by a mostly white police force, and in surrounding communities, as well as whether department policies caused a pattern of civil rights abuses.
The investigation is separate from another federal probe into whether 19-year-old Michael Brown's civil rights were violated by the veteran white officer who shot and killed him on a Ferguson street.
The officer, Darren Wilson, whose name was initially withheld by Ferguson police, says he shot Brown in self-defense.
Wilson has not been charged with any crime but a grand jury is currently considering whether criminal charges should be filed against him.
But the process being used by the Justice Department is similar to how complaints of police profiling and use of excessive force have been investigated in police departments across the country, the newspaper said.
Brown was shot and killed on the afternoon of Aug. 9 after being stopped by Wilson while walking down a street with a friend.
Wilson says Brown reached for his service revolver during an altercation near his police car.
But community witnesses have contradicted portions of Wilson's account, including several who called the shooting an "assassination," the newspaper said.
The witnesses said Brown had been walking away from the confrontation and was turning around to surrender when he was shot.
An independent autopsy report indicated that Brown had been shot at least six times, including twice in the head..
In what could be a related development, the newspaper said five current and one former member of the Ferguson police force are facing lawsuits alleging excessive force, and claimed that more than a half-dozen internal investigations are in progress.
State Sen. Maria Chappelle-Nadal, whose district includes Ferguson, told the newspaper that she was "fully supportive" of the invesgitation announced by Holder.
“I’ve literally had to pull my staff from Jefferson City and put them in Ferguson because of the number of people who are saying they’ve had past issues with the police,” Chappelle-Nadal said.
“The expansion of an investigation is by all means a great thing.," she said, "I absolutely welcome this.”
More about Missouri, United States, Ferguson, Civil Rights, Unrest
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