Decision made on whether to indict officer involved in Ferguson shooting
FERGUSON –– A Missouri grand jury has made a decision on whether to indict a white police officer in the fatal shooting of an unarmed black teenager in Ferguson, a killing that sparked angry protests in the St Louis suburb, the Washington Post reported today.
St Louis County Prosecutor Bob McCulloch’s office was due to make an announcement on the grand jury, the Post and CNN reported, citing sources.
A spokesman for McCulloch did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Activist groups have pledged fresh street protests if officer Darren Wilson is not indicted in the August 9 shooting death of Michael Brown, 18, while the state has been planning a massive police presence to quell violence.
President Barack Obama urged protesters to remain peaceful following the grand jury announcement, a White House spokesman said. Brown’s parents, ministers and community leaders have urged sympathizers to remain peaceful, whatever the outcome.
Ferguson, a predominantly black town with a white-dominated power structure, has been on edge for weeks as residents await the grand jury’s decision. Shop owners in the city, which faced weeks of sometimes violent protests following Brown’s death, have boarded up their windows, and students in one area school district began an extended early Thanksgiving break today.
Protesters have said they plan to demonstrate at the Ferguson Police Department and at the county courthouse in Clayton, about eight miles to the south, following the grand jury’s decision.
Police in Clayton have placed large barricades around the courthouse and placed locks on mailboxes to prevent them being opened ahead of the announcement.
Lawyers for Brown’s family say the teen was trying to surrender when he was shot, while Wilson’s supporters say he feared for his life and opened fire in self-defence.
Missouri’s Governor Jay Nixon has declared a state of emergency in anticipation of the ruling and called in the National Guard, a move that some activists called unnecessarily heavy-handed.
Nixon was en route to St Louis this afternoon, a spokesman confirmed. The spokesman declined to comment on the reasons for Nixon’s trip.