Ferguson grand jury has reached decision

Updated: 2014-11-25 09:57


Ferguson grand jury has reached decision

A protester holds his hands in the air outside the Ferguson Police Department in Ferguson, Missouri, November 24, 2014. [Photo/Agencies]

FERGUSON, Missouri - A grand jury has reached a decision about whether to indict a white police officer in the shooting death of Michael Brown, an unarmed black 18-year-old, a spokesman for St. Louis County's top prosecutor said Monday.

The panel has been considering charges against Darren Wilson, the suburban St. Louis officer who fatally shot Brown after a confrontation in August. In a brief email to reporters, spokesman Ed Magee said the decision would be announced later Monday. He offered no immediate details

The St. Louis County prosecutor's office said the decision will be announced after 9 p.m. (0100 GMT).

The Aug. 9 shooting inflamed tensions in the predominantly black St. Louis suburb that is patrolled by an overwhelmingly white police force. As Brown's body lay for hours in the center of a residential street, an angry crowd of onlookers gathered. Rioting and looting occurred the following night, and police responded with armored vehicles and tear gas.

Brown's killing reignited a debate over how police treat young black men in the US. It drew attention to racial tensions simmering in Ferguson and other US communities four decades after the civil rights movement of the 1960s. The tensions have evoked other racially charged cases, including the riots that rocked Los Angeles in 1992 after the acquittal of white police officers in the videotaped beating of black motorist Rodney King.

More recently, peaceful protests followed the 2013 not-guilty verdict in the Florida slaying in unarmed black teenager Trayvon Martin by George Zimmerman, who was not a police officer but coordinated the local neighborhood watch.

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon traveled to St. Louis from the Capitol and held a news conference, asking for "peace, respect and restraint."

Barricades have been erected around the courthouse where the decision will be announced, and more than 20 Missouri state troopers were seen silently assembling with rifles, 3-foot (0.91-meter) batons, riot shields and other equipment. Some nearby businesses boarded up their windows, just as many shops have already done near the site of Brown's death in Ferguson.

Largely peaceful protests took place during the weekend after the grand jury met Friday but apparently did not reach a decision.

Many had thought a grand jury decision would be announced Sunday, based partly on a stepped-up police presence in the preceding days.

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