710 KNUS News

8/20/2014 12:26 AM
Governor won't seek removal of county prosecutor

By NIGEL DUARA


FERGUSON, Mo. (AP) — Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon said Tuesday that he would not seek the removal of the prosecutor overseeing the investigation into the fatal police shooting of Michael Brown, which has sparked more than a week of nightly clashes between protesters and police.

St. Louis County Prosecutor Bob McCulloch's deep family connections to police have been cited by some black leaders who question his ability to be impartial. McCullouch's father, mother, brother, uncle and cousin all worked for the St. Louis Police Department, and his father was killed while responding to a call involving a black suspect.

Nixon said he would not ask McCulloch to leave the case, citing the "well-established process" by which prosecutors can recuse themselves from pending investigations to make way for a special prosecutor.

Departing from that process, Nixon said in a statement, "could unnecessarily inject legal uncertainty into this matter and potentially jeopardize the prosecution."

McCulloch, a Democrat, was elected in 1991 and has earned a reputation for being tough on crime.

The streets of Ferguson filled once more with protesters Tuesday evening, but the scene was much more subdued than on any of the previous five nights, with smaller crowds. For the hours, the protest was lively but peaceful. After midnight, tensions rose as officers tried to remove the relatively small number of protesters who had not left. Several people were seen in handcuffs before most of the remaining crowd headed home.

Earlier in the day, Ferguson city leaders urged people to stay home after dark Tuesday to "allow peace to settle in" and pledged to try to improve the police force in the St. Louis suburb.

In a public statement, the city said the mayor, the City Council and employees have been exploring ways to increase the number of African-American applicants to the law enforcement academy, develop incentive programs to encourage city residency for police officers and raise money for cameras that would be attached to patrol car dashboards and officers' vests.

"We plan to learn from this tragedy, as we further provide for the safety of our residents and businesses and progress our community through reconciliation and healing," the statement said.

Benjamin Crump, an attorney for Brown's family, said the 18-year-old's funeral and memorial service would be Monday. The time and location had not been finalized.

Earlier Tuesday, a large crowd gathered in nearby St. Louis after officers responding to a report of a store robbery shot and killed a knife-wielding man. Police Chief Sam Dotson said the suspect acted erratically and told responding officers to "kill me now."

Some members of the crowd shouted, "Hands up, don't shoot," a phrase that has been a refrain of protests since Brown's death on Aug. 9. Like Brown, the 23-year-old suspect killed Tuesday was black.

A grand jury could begin hearing evidence Wednesday to determine whether the officer, Darren Wilson, should be charged in Brown's death, said Ed Magee, spokesman for St. Louis County's prosecuting attorney.

Wilson was recognized during a Ferguson City Council meeting in February, getting special recognition for what Police Chief Thomas Jackson said then was his role in responding to a report of a suspicious vehicle, then struggling with the driver and detaining him until help arrived. Jackson said the suspect was preparing a large quantity of marijuana for sale.

Attorney General Eric Holder was scheduled to travel to Ferguson on Wednesday to meet with FBI and other officials carrying out an independent federal investigation into Brown's death.

In an essay posted late Tuesday on the St. Louis Post-Dispatch website, Holder said the bond of trust between law enforcement and the public is "all-important, but it is also fragile."

Arrest patterns "must not lead to disparate treatment under the law, even if such treatment is unintended. And police forces should reflect the diversity of the communities they serve," Holder wrote.

The Justice Department has mounted an unusually swift and aggressive response to Brown's death, from an independent autopsy to dozens of FBI agents combing Ferguson for witnesses to the shooting.

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Associated Press writers Alan Scher Zagier in Ferguson, Jim Salter in St. Louis and David A. Lieb in Jefferson City contributed to this report.



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(Copyright 2014 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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