FERGUSON, Mo. (KMOX/AP) — Attorney General Eric Holder on Sunday ordered a federal medical examiner to perform another autopsy on a black Missouri teenager whose fatal shooting by a white police officer has spurred a week of rancorous and sometimes-violent protests in suburban St. Louis.
The “extraordinary circumstances” surrounding the death of 18-year-old Michael Brown and a request by Brown’s family members prompted the order, Department of Justice spokesman Brian Fallon said in a statement. “This independent examination will take place as soon as possible,” Fallon said. “Even after it is complete, Justice Department officials still plan to take the state-performed autopsy into account in the course of their investigation.”
The Justice Department already had deepened its civil rights investigation into the shooting. A day earlier, officials said 40 FBI agents were going door-to-door gathering information in the Ferguson neighborhood where Brown, who was unarmed, was shot to death Aug. 9 in the street.
A federally conducted autopsy “more closely focused on entry point of projectiles, defensive wounds and bruises” might help that investigation, said David Weinstein, a former federal prosecutor who supervised the criminal civil rights section of Miami’s U.S. attorney’s office. The move is “not that unusual,” he added.
Federal authorities also want to calm any public fears that no action will be taken on the case, Weinstein said.
President Barack Obama, who has been getting regular updates on the situation in Ferguson while on vacation, was to be briefed by Holder upon returning Monday to the White House.
The Justice Department’s announcement followed the first night of a state-imposed curfew in Ferguson, which ended with tear gas and seven arrests after police dressed in riot gear used armored vehicles to disperse defiant protesters.
Missouri State Highway Patrol Capt. Ron Johnson said protesters were not the reason for the police reaction early Sunday after the midnight curfew took effect. He cited a report of people who had broken into a barbecue restaurant and taken to the roof, and a man who flashed a handgun in the street as armored vehicles approached the protesters.
Those and other armored vehicles used by law enforcement were criticized at a rally in Ferguson Sunday afternoon, with the Reverend Al Sharpton calling for the money spent on military equipment for police to instead be channeled into job opportunities in communities like Ferguson.
But Sharpton also called out some protestors, “Don’t loot in Michael’s name. We are not looters, we are liberators.”
The Rev. Al Sharpton told the rally Brown’s death is a “defining moment” on how the United States “deals with policing and the rights of its citizens.”
Also speaking to an overflow crowd at Greater Grace Church, Martin Luther King III. “Our police departments need human relations, sensitivity and diversity training.” King also called for an independent prosecutor in the case. “The current prosecutor has demonstrated bias, therefore he should recuse himself.”
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