FERGUSON, Mo. — A group of African-American attorneys called Tuesday for St. Louis County Prosecutor Robert McCulloch to remove himself from the investigation of the shooting death of Michael Brown and let the U.S. Department of Justice take over the case.
Separately, federal law-enforcement officials said a U.S. military medical examiner has concluded a federal autopsy of Brown and it will show six gunshot wounds, according to a government source who asked not to be identified.
The federal autopsy was the third postmortem to be performed on the body of the 18-year-old African American, who was unarmed when a white police officer in Ferguson, Mo., fatally shot him Aug. 9. A private autopsy commissioned by the Brown family also showed six gunshot wounds.
At a news conference on the steps of the courthouse in downtown St. Louis, Kendra Howard, leader of the Mound City Bar Association, said residents of nearby Ferguson and elsewhere are “gravely concerned about the lack of transparency and lack of candor” of McCulloch’s office since Brown’s death.
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Last week, McCulloch spokesman Ed Magee said his office was hoping to take evidence to a grand jury this week.
But the delay in releasing details of the shooting, including the name of the police officer involved — Darren Wilson — and the revelation that Brown was shot at least six times, has angered the community and led to allegations of an attempted cover-up.
U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, who requested the federal autopsy, has said a separate Department of Justice civil-rights investigation of the shooting will review the county-performed autopsy. Holder is scheduled to visit Ferguson on Wednesday to meet with federal and community officials.
On Tuesday morning, after peaceful protests in Ferguson devolved into the ninth night of unrest, with at least 31 arrests and two shootings, residents gathered to clean up debris from embattled West Florissant Avenue, and the parents of Michael Brown said they are planning a public memorial for their son on Monday.
The clashes led to the arrests of people from as far away as California and New York, underscoring what Missouri State Highway Patrol Capt. Ron Johnson said is a small number of outsiders stirring up trouble.
Officers came under “heavy gunfire” overnight, he said, requiring the use of tear gas to disperse unruly crowds. He emphasized that police did not fire a single bullet.
A curfew that had been in effect Saturday and Sunday nights was lifted, but officials had the authority to close streets and required that protesters stay in motion — not stop walking or congregate.
Brown’s parents, Michael Brown and Lesley McSpadden, said Tuesday morning that the prosecution of the officer who shot their unarmed son is the only way to bring peace to the streets of Ferguson.
“Justice will bring peace,” McSpadden told the “Today” show’s Matt Lauer.
“We need to keep the focus on Michael Brown Jr.,” Brown’s father said.
Anthony Gray, an attorney for the family, said the parents are devastated by the nightly clashes, which they feel “divert all of the attention from honoring their child and allowing him to begin the process to rest in peace. That’s not how they want him to be remembered. They do not want that to be their son’s legacy.”
Gray, who was out with protesters on West Florissant late Monday, did not fault police, calling their approach “experimental.” He praised Johnson, chosen by the governor to take over control of the effort from local police last week.
Johnson has called on protesters to stay inside after dark, and while Gray wasn’t sure if that was the solution to the violence, he said the dynamic needs to change.
“Everybody needs to take a break,” Gray said. “We’ve got a big memorial service that needs to be planned,” he said.
He said the family was encouraged that President Obama is sending Holder to Ferguson.
Meanwhile, an emotionally disturbed 23-year-old black man was shot and killed by St. Louis police officers Tuesday, authorities said.
Sam Dotson, the chief of the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department, said two officers encountered a man behaving “erratically” and brandishing a knife when they arrived.
The officers repeatedly warned: “Stop, drop the knife,” but he refused, Dotson said.
The man approached the officers, knife raised, and was shot and killed after he came within three or four feet, the chief said.