Michael Brown’s par­ents sue over son’s death


Michael Brown’s par­ents filed a wrong­ful- death law­suit against the city of Fer­gu­son on Thurs­day, open­ing a new chap­ter in the legal battle over the 18- yearold’s fa­tal shoot­ing by a white of­fi­cer that sparked a protest move­ment about the way po­lice in the U. S. treat blacks.

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

Brown was un­armed and walk­ing in the street with a friend on Aug. 9 when of­fi­cer Dar­ren Wil­son told them to move to the side­walk. That led to a heated con­fronta­tion and a scuf­fle be­tween Wil­son and Brown in­side Wil­son’s squad car.

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

Brown’s shoot­ing led to some­times- 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 Wil­son, who has re­signed from the po­lice force.

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

“It’s all part of the jour­ney,” she said.

Mes­sages seek­ing com­ment from Fer­gu­son city of­fi­cials were not im­me­di­ately re­turned.

For­mer Po­lice Chief Tom Jack­son, who was named in the com­plaint along with Wil­son, de­clined to dis­cuss the law­suit, telling The As­so­ci­ated Press that he was un­aware of it un­til a re­porter told him.

Civil suits of­ten un­fold much dif­fer­ently than crim­i­nal mat­ters.

Two decades ago, foot­ball star O. J. Simp­son was ac­quit­ted of the killings of his ex- wife, Ni­cole Brown Simp­son, and her friend, Ron­ald Gold­man. But a civil jury awarded the Brown and Gold­man fam­i­lies US$ 33.5 mil­lion in wrong­ful- death dam­ages.

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