UPDATE: 2:00 PM EST
Attorneys for Darren Wilson spoke out for the first time since the investigation into Michael Brown’s shooting began, releasing a statement absolving them from leaking information regarding the case.
“We were not responsible for any leaks to any media including those published in the NY Times and the St. Louis Post Dispatch. Further, we are not in possession of any of the disclosed reports or the investigative report. Finally, as long as the Grand Jury continues to meet and the Department of Justice continues to investigate, any commentary on this matter should only be done in the appropriate judicial venue and not through the media.”
We’ll keep you updated with the latest.
The Justice Department condemned the release of information into the shooting death of unarmed Ferguson, Mo. teenager Michael Brown Jr. this week, calling the leaks “irresponsible and highly troubling.”
Those leaks include an account of the incident given by Brown’s shooter, Officer Darren Wilson, including details that suggest Brown struggled with Wilson in his police cruiser, causing the gun to go off. A delayed autopsy report, released more than two months after Brown’s death, indicates the teenager was shot at close range during a struggle in the police cruiser. Unidentified government officials also told the New York Times that Brown’s blood was found on Wilson and the police vehicle.
And just Wednesday, unnamed sources told the Washington Post that a handful of black witnesses that testified before a grand jury gave accounts “consistent” with Wilson’s.
The details from the inquiry into Brown’s death were all provided by unidentified sources and seem to support Wilson’s story of what happened on Aug. 9.
“There seems to be an inappropriate effort to influence public opinion about this case,” a Justice Department spokesperson said.
The leaks seemed to create a fresh rupture in trust with black St. Louis-area officials and protesters, who said Wednesday that they were upset with what they saw as another breakdown in the justice system because information from the supposedly secret grand jury continued to appear in the media. The grand jury’s decision is expected in November.
“There is no way there should be reports from all these anonymous sources and these ‘leaks’ ….This is supposed to play out in the courts and the justice system, and not the media,” said Patricia Bynes, a Ferguson resident and prominent voice in the protest movement. Quoting a popular chant, she added, “The whole damn system is guilty as hell.”
According to the Huffington Post, an unidentified Justice Department official told the publication that Attorney General Eric Holder is exasperated by the apparent “selective leaks,” in the case.
From the Los Angeles Times:
Other activists and St. Louis-area officials saw the leaks as the crux of the matter, deriding news outlets for reporting the leaked information and investigative officials for leaking it.
“A non-transparent grand jury process and a leaky investigation is not the way the outcome of this important case should be determined,” tweeted St. Louis Alderman Antonio French, who participated in many Ferguson demonstrations. “These leaks do not help restore people’s faith in the justice system. Quite the opposite.”
St. Louis County prosecutor’s office spokesman Ed Magee said his office probably wouldn’t investigate the leaks because prosecutors could not force journalists to divulge their sources and because the information could be coming from federal officials in Washington.
“There’s really nothing to investigate,” Magee said Wednesday. “We don’t have control over anybody leaking anything. All we can control is people in our office and the grand jury, and it’s not coming from us or the grand jury.”
Earlier this week, former St. Louis County Police Chief Tim Fitch suggested the leaks are a way to “let people down slowly” if Wilson isn’t apprehended. A grand jury is expected to determine if Wilson will be indicted by mid-November. We’ll keep you updated with the latest.
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