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NAACP calls for special prosecutor in Michael Brown shooting case

NAACP President Cornell William Brooks. (Bill O’Leary/The Washington Post)

The NAACP has joined a chorus of voices saying that a special prosecutor, rather than St. Louis County Prosecutor Robert McCulloch, should investigate the shooting of Michael Brown.

“We need to talk about justice for Michael Brown,” Cornell William Brooks, the organization’s new president and chief executive, said in a statement sent out on Thursday afternoon. “Justice rests in the hands of one person: St. Louis County Prosecutor Bob McCulloch, a man with deep personal, family, and professional ties to the local police department.”

McCulloch has said he will not step down from the case, despite similar calls from elected leaders and activists in the days since Officer Darren Wilson shot and killed Brown.

Brooks had told CBS News over the weekend that it is “critically important” for a special prosecutor to be appointed. But the NAACP is now actively pushing for such an appointment, creating a page on its site to let people send pre-written e-mails to Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon (D) and Attorney General Chris Koster (D) saying that special prosecutor is needed “to restore trust in this investigation.”

Those calling on McCulloch to step aside have pointed to his history, arguing that he cannot be impartial. McCulloch’s father, a white police officer in St. Louis, was shot and killed by a black man in the line of duty when McCulloch was 12. In 2000, he oversaw an investigation into two white police officers who shot and killed two black men; after a grand jury declined to indict them, McCulloch said he agreed with that decision.

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And more recently, McCulloch lambasted Nixon (D) for putting the State Highway Patrol in control of Ferguson’s security last week, saying the move could “put a lot of people in danger.”

Nixon said Tuesday that he would not ask McCulloch to recuse himself, though he did not offer the prosecutor an endorsement. Instead, he said that the process exists for McCulloch to recuse himself, and the governor could “inject legal uncertainty” into the situation if he stepped in.

McCulloch said during a radio interview Wednesday that he has “absolutely no intention” of recusing himself. He also said during this interview that prosecutors, who began presenting evidence to a grand jury on Wednesday, could need another two months.

Mark Berman covers national news for The Washington Post and anchors Post Nation, a destination for breaking news and stories from around the country.
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