Ferguson Grand Jury Decision on Cop Who Killed Mike Brown to be Announced Soon

Ferguson
The grand jury's decision will be announced soon. Reuters

(Reuters) - A Missouri grand jury has made a decision on whether to indict a white police officer in the fatal shooting of an unarmed black teenager in Ferguson, a killing that sparked angry protests in the St. Louis suburb, the Washington Post reported on Monday.

St. Louis County Prosecutor Bob McCulloch's office was due to make an announcement on the grand jury, the Post and CNN reported, citing sources.

A spokesman for McCulloch did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Activist groups have pledged fresh street protests if officer Darren Wilson is not indicted in the Aug. 9 shooting death of Michael Brown, 18, while the state has been planning a massive police presence to quell violence.

President Barack Obama urged protesters to remain peaceful following the grand jury announcement, a White House spokesman said. Brown's parents, ministers and community leaders have urged sympathizers to remain peaceful, whatever the outcome.

Ferguson, a predominantly black town with a white-dominated power structure, has been on edge for weeks as residents await the grand jury's decision. Shop owners in the city, which faced weeks of sometimes violent protests following Brown's death, have boarded up their windows, and students in one area school district began an extended early Thanksgiving break on Monday.

Protesters have said they plan to demonstrate at the Ferguson Police Department and at the county courthouse in Clayton, about 8 miles (13 km) to the south, following the grand jury's decision.

Police in Clayton have placed large barricades around the courthouse and placed locks on mailboxes to prevent them being opened ahead of the announcement.

Lawyers for Brown's family say the teen was trying to surrender when he was shot, while Wilson's supporters say he feared for his life and opened fire in self-defense.

Missouri Governor Jay Nixon has declared a state of emergency in anticipation of the ruling and called in the National Guard, a move that some activists called unnecessarily heavy-handed.

Nixon was en route to St. Louis on Monday afternoon, a spokesman confirmed. The spokesman declined to comment on the reasons for Nixon's trip.

NATIONAL SPOTLIGHT

The August shooting touched off a national debate about race relations and ignited nightly street demonstrations where police in riot gear, flanked by armored vehicles, fired rubber bullets and deployed tear gas to break up crowds.

Obama in the aftermath of the shooting dispatched Attorney General Eric Holder to Ferguson to investigate and try to restore calm in the community, where much of the population is black and the police force is mostly white.

Local and state authorities scrambled to keep a lid on the protests in the face of criticism their heavy-handed tactics were only making the situation worse.

McCulloch declined to file charges directly and instead had a grand jury hear evidence over recent months, which kept tensions simmering. In a move aimed at transparency, the prosecutor's office has pledged to release publicly evidence heard by the grand jury, where proceedings are usually kept secret.

Three autopsies were performed on Brown, who was shot at least six times. A private autopsy indicates Brown was trying to surrender, lawyers for Brown's family said. The St. Louis County autopsy indicated a gunshot wound at close range to Brown's hand.

The Justice Department has yet to release the findings of its autopsy.

Ferguson Grand Jury Decision on Cop Who Killed Mike Brown to be Announced Soon | U.S.