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‘Highly troubling’: Justice Dept. slams local officials over Michael Brown autopsy leak

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U.S. Justice Department officials on Thursday criticized local authorities’ investigation of the shooting death of an unarmed black teenager in Ferguson, Missouri, saying the case had been handled in a “selective” and “inappropriate” manner.

The department’s criticism comes after the official St. Louis County autopsy of Michael Brown, 18, who was shot by Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson on Aug. 9, was leaked to media on Wednesday.

The autopsy report, obtained by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and published on its website, suggested Brown sustained a gunshot wound to the hand from close range and came as a grand jury considered whether Wilson should face charges.

“The department considers the selective release of information in this investigation to be irresponsible and highly troubling,” Justice Department spokeswoman Dena Iverson said.

“Since the release of the convenience store footage there seems to be an inappropriate effort to influence public opinion about this case,” Iverson added, referring to the Ferguson police department’s release of video shortly after the shooting that showed a robbery at a nearby convenience store, although it did not specifically link Brown at the time to the footage.

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder expressed frustration with local officials investigating the incident as the Justice Department also conducts a federal investigation, according to a department official.

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In a meeting with Justice Department lawyers on Wednesday, Holder said he was “exasperated” by the “selective flow of information coming out of Missouri” and called the leaks “inappropriate and troubling,” the official said.

Brown’s death ignited angry protests across Ferguson, a mostly black community with a majority white police force and city government, and drew global attention to racial tensions in the United States.

Protests have continued since August and flared again on Wednesday night, leading to multiple arrests, according to police.

Accounts of the shooting differ, but witnesses and law enforcement officials have said Brown and Wilson got into an altercation through the window of the officer’s vehicle after Wilson told Brown and a friend to leave the middle of a street.

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Brown, who was shot six times, died about 30 feet from the patrol car.

The official autopsy released this week said at least one bullet struck Brown’s hand at close range, suggesting that Brown’s hand was near Wilson’s weapon at some point. It also showed Brown tested positive for marijuana.

St. Louis County’s medical examiner office verified the autopsy report but said it did not release it.

Some activists have said the leak seemed aimed at bolstering support for Wilson and has further strained the community.

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An attorney for Brown’s parents has said the autopsy was not surprising given witnesses accounts of an altercation at the patrol car.

Brown’s family released a preliminary private autopsy findings in August. The Justice Department also ordered its own autopsy but has not yet released its report.

(Reporting by Julia Edwards in Washington, Curtis Skinner in San Francisco and Carey Gillam in Kansas City, Mo.; Writing by Susan Heavey; Editing by Bill Trott)

Report typos and corrections to [email protected].
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Virginia Democrats are so fired up that the party chair had to scold them: ‘Sit down — be quit’

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Democrats in Virginia are fired up as they gathered in Richmond for their annual gala dinner.

Political analysts believe the Democratic Party of Virginia has a good chance to win control of the state legislature in 2019's election, before setting their sights on the Commonwealth continuing its recent trend of voting Democratic in presidential elections.

Patrick Wilson, a political reporter for the Richmond Times-Dispatch, attended the event.

He reported that Democrats were so "noisy" that it was hard to hear the speakers, which include presidential candidates Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg.

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‘Everyone knows what to expect’ at Trump’s Amway Center re-election kickoff

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Donald Trump considers himself a legendary salesman, but can he really sell America on giving him four more drama-filled years at the White House?

Tuesday, he'll make his big pitch.

The 2020 reelection kickoff rally is being held in Orlando, Florida and campaign operations chief Michael Glassner says the "historic" event "has already generated tens of thousands of ticketing requests."

There's little mystery about how the night will go down.

Expect Trump, the self-promoting hero of his ghost-written book "The Art of the Deal," to claim the US economy is richer, the military stronger, and the country more respected than ever in history.

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Florida man’s own family blasts him after he was arrested for racist threats: ‘This isn’t how we were raised’

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After a Florida man was arrested for trying to start a race war, a member of his own family slammed his values.

"A Florida man’s social media posts that threatened violence against African-Americans, Jews and homosexuals and that urged his followers to start a race war netted him a $1 million bond," the Miami Herald reported Saturday. "And then there’s another $100,000 bond he would have to pay to get out of Lee County Jail because of a weapons charge."

Joshua Leff, 40, is being held in the Lee County Jail.

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