Ferguson officer who killed Michael Brown testifies before grand jury
The Ferguson, Missouri police officer whose fatal shooting of an unarmed black teenager has ignited weeks of protests testified Tuesday before a St. Louis grand jury hearing evidence in the case, according to a report in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
Darren Wilson, who has been in hiding since the Aug. 9 shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown, spent nearly four hours telling his version of events to the 12 members of the grand jury who are weighing possible charges against him, the newspaper said on Wednesday, citing a source.
The proceedings of a grand jury are closed to the public and the prosecutor’s office would not confirm the report.
The shooting, which took place at midday in a residential neighborhood of the mostly black St. Louis suburb of Ferguson, sparked angry demonstrations that have continued as the grand jury meets. The incident has also prompted fresh scrutiny of police actions around the country, and complaints of racial profiling and police abuse of minorities.
Many witnesses have reported that Brown had his hands up in surrender when he was shot. He and a friend were walking down a residential street when the officer drove by and asked the two to move out of the street, according to police. Wilson has not given his account publicly, but friends of his reported that he was injured in an altercation with Brown, and felt threatened when he shot the teenager.
An autopsy showed Brown was shot at least six times, including twice in the head.
Brown’s family, protesters and civil rights leaders have demanded that Wilson be charged with a crime. Many protesters, who refer to Wilson as the “killer cop,” have pledged that there will be widespread civil unrest if he is not charged.
Wilson’s appearance at the grand jury on Tuesday was unusual. Normally the grand jury, which is typically empanelled for up to six months, meets on Wednesdays each week.
But St. Louis County Judge Carolyn Whittington has given the county prosecutor’s office authority to extend the grand jury hearing into the case until Jan. 7, and she also wrote in a court order that the grand jury could “hear evidence or conduct your investigation on whatever days and times are agreeable.”
The U.S. Department of Justice is also conducting an investigation into the shooting.
(Reporting by Carey Gillam in Kansas City; Editing by Eric Walsh)