The parents of slain 18-year-old Michael Brown said Saturday that, almost two months after his shooting, they remain deeply skeptical that they will receive justice for their son through the local prosecutor, and they have more faith in the federal probe into the circumstances surrounding his death.
Members of Brown’s family said they have still had almost no interaction with the Ferguson Police Department or St. Louis County Prosecutor Bob McCulloch.
Two days after Ferguson Police Chief Tom Jackson released a video apologizing to the family for the fact that Brown’s body lay in the street for several hours after he was shot on Aug. 9, Brown’s parents said they have not watched it.
“I haven’t seen the apology,” said Michael Brown Sr., during a broad and at-times emotional interview with several members of the family and their attorneys at The Washington Post on Saturday.
“For me, I’ve seen … another interview that he’s done,” said Lesley McSpadden, Brown’s mother, when asked about Jackson’s apology. “And it just comes off very incompetent.”
In the two months since Brown was shot and killed by Officer Darren Wilson in Ferguson, Mo., his parents have been vocal in their demands for more information about the shooting – during which their son, who was unarmed, was shot multiple times by the white officer – as well as for McCulloch, who is distrusted by many in Ferguson’s black community, to step aside.
McCulloch has repeatedly insisted that he will not step aside, and has proceeded with grand jury proceedings – undertaking an unorthodox method in which his office’s prosecutors are not recommending any specific charges and rather are presenting all facts to the grand jury members and allowing them to independently determine what if any charges to pursue against Wilson.
“They’re not trying to prosecute, they don’t want to indict him.” said Benjamin Crump, the family’s lead attorney. “They are doing everything they can not to indict him.”
But while they said they are still deeply skeptical of the likelihood that Wilson will be indicted by the grand jury, the Brown family and their attorneys remain encouraged by the Justice Department conducting multiple probes related to the case – one into the shooting and a second into the Ferguson Police Department more broadly.
“The family has been fighting for justice, they weren’t fighting for an apology,” Crump said. But he and partner Daryl Parks said that the family may receive justice for their son through the federal probe currently being conducted into the shooting. He later added, “The attorney general meeting with the parents … was encouraging.”
Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. traveled to Ferguson and met with Brown’s mother and assured the family that the Justice Department would conduct a fair and extensive probe. Since that August meeting, Holder has referenced the shooting and the ongoing clashes between police officers and protesters in Ferguson during multiple speeches and public appearances.
On Thursday, Holder announced that he is resigning as attorney general, which worried some supporters of the Brown family that the Justice probe might lose focus or get sidetrack as the department undergoes a shift from Holder to whomever its next leader is. But the Browns said Holder vowed to bring them a fair federal investigation, and that they trust him to be true to his word even as he transitions out of office.
“It was a parent talking to another parent in consoling our feelings,” McSpadden said of her initial meeting with Holder. “He did reassure me that it would be fair and transparent. … I do feel a way about him resigning, but I don’t feel like he’s going to exit and not do what he set out to do.”
The Browns were in Washington for meetings with lawmakers during the Congressional Black Caucus’s annual conference, lobbying for legislation that would require police officers to wear body cameras while on duty. That push comes as civil rights groups, including the NAACP, have seized on the Brown case and several other prominent police shootings this summer to renew their decades-long push for legislation to address racial profiling in law enforcement.