WASHINGTON (WNEW/AP) — Attorney General Eric Holder is reportedly not pleased about the recent leaks involving the grand jury testimony of Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson in the fatal shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown.
According to CBS News, the attorney general has been “exasperated” over what he calls “selective leaks” in the case.
The New York Times reported last week that Wilson told investigators that he was pinned in his vehicle and in fear his for his life as they struggled over his gun.
The Times reported that the account of Wilson’s version of events came from government officials briefed on the federal civil rights investigation into the Aug. 9 shooting that sparked racial unrest and weeks of protests, some of which turned violent. Wilson is white and Brown black.
Wilson confronted Brown and a friend while they were walking back to Brown’s home from a convenience store. After the shooting, Brown died at the scene. Some witnesses have told authorities and news media that Brown had his hands raised when Wilson approached with his weapon and fired repeatedly. An independent autopsy commissioned by the family says that Brown was shot at least six times, including twice in the head.
Wilson told investigators he felt threatened while fighting with Brown from inside a police SUV, where an initial gunshot was fired, according to information provided to several news outlets by people described as familiar with the investigation, but otherwise not identified. After Brown fled the vehicle, Wilson said Brown turned around in threatening manner, prompting the officer to fire the fatal shots, according to those accounts of his testimony.
Wilson’s description of events was leaked recently, as was an autopsy report to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that showed Brown had marijuana in his system and was shot in the hand at close range. Wilson has alleged Brown was trying to grab his gun in the SUV.
“It appears that it may be calculated to soften the blow if there is no indictment,” said Peter Joy, a law professor at Washington University in St. Louis who directs the school’s Criminal Justice Clinic.
But, he said, “it’s conceivable that if the leaks are from law enforcement that perhaps there may be an indictment and this is calculated to garner public sympathy for officer Wilson.”
Former St. Louis County Police Chief Tim Fitch told CBS St. Louis that he doesn’t believe Wilson will be indicted.
“I think what you’re seeing them do is coordinate leaks to the media and to start getting some of the facts out there to kind of let people down slowly,” Fitch stated. “I think they’ve recognized that it’s probably very unlikely there will be charges.”
Wilson’s attorneys said Thursday that they are not responsible for the leaks and that any commentary should come in a legal venue, not through the media, while the investigation continues.
St. Louis County Executive Charlie Dooley called the leaks “orchestrated,” and said they “do not inspire confidence” in the process or prosecutor Bob McCulloch.
A grand jury is hearing evidence, and the Justice Department is investigating for possible civil rights violations.
The grand jury’s decision on whether or not to indict Wilson is expected to come down next month.
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