Thursday 18 January 2018

Shooting victim's parents sue city

Michael Brown's mother Lesley McSpadden is launching a wrongful death case against the city of Ferguson (AP)
Michael Brown's mother Lesley McSpadden is launching a wrongful death case against the city of Ferguson (AP)

Michael Brown's parents have filed a wrongful-death lawsuit against the city of Ferguson opening a new chapter in the legal battle over the 18-year-old's fatal shooting by a white officer that sparked a protest movement about the way police in the US treat black people.

Lawyers for Mr Brown's parents promised the case would bring to light new forensic evidence that would raise doubts about the police version of the events.

Mr Brown was unarmed and walking in the street with a friend on August 9 when officer Darren Wilson told them to move to the pavement. That led to a heated confrontation and a scuffle between the officer and Mr Brown inside the police car.

The officer shot Mr Brown after the scuffle spilled into the street. Some witnesses said Mr Brown was trying to surrender, but the officer said Mr Brown was moving toward him aggressively, forcing him to shoot.

The shooting led to violent demonstrations and spawned a national "Black Lives Matter" movement calling for changes in how police deal with minorities. In the end, local and federal authorities ruled that the shooting was justified.

Civil cases generally require a lower standard of proof than criminal cases. Jurors must find a preponderance of evidence, not proof beyond a reasonable doubt needed to convict in a criminal trial.

The civil case had been expected for months. If it comes to trial, the lawsuit could force a full review of all the evidence in the shooting and bring key witnesses to be questioned in open court, including Mr Wilson, who has resigned from the police force.

Mr Brown's parents, Lesley McSpadden and Michael Brown Sr, attended a news conference announcing the lawsuit. A tear rolled down Ms McSpadden's cheek as lawyer Benjamin Crump spoke.

"It's all part of the journey," she said.

Former Police Chief Tom Jackson, who was named in the complaint along with Mr Wilson, declined to discuss the lawsuit.

Press Association

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