A Missouri man pleaded guilty on Friday to starting a fire in a grocery store during racial unrest in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson last year after a grand jury decision not to indict a white police officer for killing an unarmed black 18-year-old.
Antonio Whiteside, 26, of St. Louis County, admitted to the federal charge of attempted arson inside the Ferguson Supermarket on Nov. 24 during riots that damaged the store and other buildings, according to U.S. Attorney Richard Callahan.
The riots followed the announcement that a state grand jury would not indict Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson, who fatally shot Michael Brown in a confrontation on Aug. 9.
Whiteside, who is to be sentenced on July 23, faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000, Callahan said in a statement.
Brown’s death prompted nationwide demonstrations and sparked a debate about police treatment of minorities.
Brown’s family filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the city of Ferguson, former Ferguson Police Chief Tom Jackson and Wilson on Thursday, seeking unspecified damages.
The lawsuit also seeks a court order prohibiting the use of police techniques “that demean, disregard, or under serve its African-American population.”
(Reporting by Kevin Murphy in Kansas City, Mo.; editing by Carey Gillam)