By Brandie Piper
ST. LOUIS COUNTY – An attorney for the family of Mike Brown announced Thursday morning intent to file a civil lawsuit against the City of Ferguson and former police officer Darren Wilson.
Anthony Gray says the wrongful-death lawsuit will “demonstrate to reasonable-minded people” that Wilson did not need to use deadly force against 18-year-old Mike Brown, and give “a more clear, a more accurate picture of what took place that day.” Attorney Daryl Parks says the city and Wilson will be named in the lawsuit, but declined to elaborate about other possible defendants.
“We feel and we’ve always felt from the very beginning that Officer Darren Wilson did not have to shoot and kill Mike Brown Jr. in broad daylight in the manner that he did, that he had other options available to him, and that he chose deadly force as his option. And we plan to demonstrate in a court of law to reasonable-minded people that the choice to use deadly force was unreasonable and unnecessary under those circumstances,” said Gray.
Brown’s parents, Lesley McSpadden and Michael Brown Sr., were at the news conference but did not speak because of the stress they have been under during the last 24 hours.
On Wednesday, the Department of Justice released two reports; one details the result of an investigation into the Ferguson Police Department which found numerous instances of racial bias, and a second into the shooting death of Michael Brown, which resulted in the decision not to file civil rights charges against Wilson.
“Obviously, we disagree with those findings,” said Gray. “While at the same time we realize that it appears as though a lot of effort and a lot of work was invested in both the federal investigation and the state-wide investigation. At the end of the day, we think that those conclusions were in many ways not in line with our expectations, what we viewed as the evidence on August 9, 2014.”
The DOJ’s inquiry into the Ferguson Police Department found evidence of racial bias throughout the department, including the statistic that in 90 percent of cases where the use of force was documented, those actions were used against African Americans.
“Probably the only encouraging part of it was the things that they have found in the City of Ferguson,” said Parks. “If nothing else, it clearly lays out why this family had such distrust for law enforcement in this agency.”
Also on Thursday, the NAACP released a statement saying they plan to seek justice for victims who were discriminated against by the Ferguson Police Department and Municipal Court.
“We will seek legislation to set the pace for measured movement and steps toward reconciliation for the victims of the Ferguson’s Police and Court discriminatory practices. The time for silence, compromise, and meaningless moderation is over,” said Adolphus M. Pruitt, II, president of the St. Louis NAACP.
The mentioned legislation will be called the “Ferguson Civil Rights Reconciliation Act” and would create an expungement docket within St. Louis County for the discrimination victims named in the DOJ report so their cases can be reviewed and arrest records cleared if appropriate. The NAACP says the docket would be paid for with revenue from Missouri for noncompliance with the state’s Mack Creeks Law.
On Wednesday afternoon Ferguson Mayor James Knowles III said changes have already been implemented within the department, including the suspension of three employees who displayed racial bias in emails. One of those employees has been fired, the status of the other two are pending.
Brown’s family was not surprised by the outcome of the DOJ investigation, but says they have accepted Wilson’s testimony about self-defense after weighing the evidence, Parks said. But, he stressed again that the family believes Wilson had other options available to him.
The news conference was held which was held at Greater St. Mark Family Church. Pastor Tommie Pierson called the church “the home of the justice movement” because it has been the hub for news conferences and rallies related to the unrest in Ferguson, including an event held in late August hosted by Rev. Al Sharpton.
A timetable for the lawsuit filing was not given.