“They have attempted to taint the investigation,” U.S. Rep. William Lacy Clay told protesters through a bullhorn Friday night. “They are trying to influence a jury pool by the stunt they pulled today.”
Family attorney Daryl Parks acknowledged the man in the footage “appears to be” Brown. But he and others said Brown’s family was blindsided by the allegations and release of the footage. They said that even if it was Brown, the crime didn’t justify the shooting after Brown put up his hands in surrender, as witnesses describe.
Another family attorney, Benjamin Crump, said police “are choosing to disseminate information that is very strategic to try to help them justify the execution-style” killing.
The surveillance video shows a man wearing a ball cap, shorts and white T-shirt grabbing a much shorter man by his shirt near the store’s door. A police report alleges Brown grabbed the man who had come from behind the store counter and “forcefully pushed him back” into a display rack.
Wilson, the officer who shot Brown, did not know the teen was a robbery suspect at the time of the shooting and stopped Brown and a companion “because they were walking down the middle of the street blocking traffic,” Jackson said Friday. Police said they found evidence of the stolen merchandise on Brown’s body.
Wilson is a six-year police veteran — two in neighboring Jennings and four in Ferguson — and had no previous complaints filed against him, Jackson said, describing him as “a gentle, quiet man” who had been “an excellent officer.”
The Ferguson Police Department has refused to say anything about Wilson’s whereabouts, and Associated Press reporters were unable to contact him at any addresses or phone numbers listed under that name in the St. Louis area.
Wilson has been on paid administrative leave since the shooting. St. Louis County prosecutor Bob McCulloch said it could be weeks before the investigation wraps up.
St. Louis County Executive Charlie Dooley asked Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster on Friday to take over the case, saying he did not believe McCulloch could be objective. Koster said Missouri law does not allow it unless McCulloch opts out, and McCulloch spokesman Ed Magee said the prosecutor has no plans to surrender the case.
Also Friday, the U.S. Justice Department said that FBI agents had conducted several interviews with witnesses as part of a civil-rights investigation into Brown’s death. In the days ahead, the agents planned to canvass the neighborhood for more information, the statement said.