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Michael Brown Family Sues For Wrongful Death

Lesley McSpadden, the mother of 18-year-old Michael Brown, wipes away tears as Brown’s father, Michael Brown Sr, holds up a family picture of himself, his son, top left, and a young child. Photograph: Jeff Roberson/AP

The family of Michael Brown, the unarmed black 18-year-old whose fatal shooting by police led to months of unrest last year, are suing the city ofFerguson, Missouri, their lawyers said on Wednesday evening.

Relatives of Brown will announce their filing of a civil lawsuit against the St Louis suburb at a press conference on Thursday morning, attorneys Benjamin Crump and Daryl Parks said in a statement.

The lawsuit will accuse city authorities of liability for “the wrongful death of Michael Brown Jr”, the statement said. A city spokeswoman did not respond to a request for comment.

Their civil action, which will almost certainly seek financial damages, is likely to be the Brown family’s final opportunity to hold authorities responsible for the death of their son.

It follows decisions by state and federal authorities not to bring criminal charges against Darren Wilson, the former Ferguson police officer who killed Brown last year, prompting protests and intense clashes between demonstrators and police.

Brown was shot dead by Wilson, who is white, on 9 August after a struggle that followed the officer stopping Brown and a friend for jaywalking in a residential side street.

Demonstrations that broke out on the streets of Ferguson over perceived police brutality were met with a crackdown by riot police who shot teargas and rubber bullets into the crowds.

Wilson testified to a grand jury that he fired repeatedly at Brown when the 18-year-old turned and charged at him after fleeing a scuffle at the officer’s patrol car. Some witnesses told police that Brown was surrendering with his hands up when he was shot. But this account was ultimately rejected by a grand jury in St Louis and civil rights officials in the US Department of Justice.

Further protests, along with a night of rioting and arson, developed after the state grand jury declined to recommend charges against Wilson in November. Brown’s death served as a flashpoint, reviving a national debate over the police’s use of force – particularly against African Americans – and leading to protests over other deaths at the hands of law enforcement around the US.

While declining to prosecute Wilson, justice officials published a scathing report on the criminal justice system of Ferguson, which was accused of systematically mistreating the African Americans who make up more than two-thirds of the town’s population.

Senior officials, including the city manager, stepped down from their jobs along with two senior police officers and a senior court official following the publication of the report, which detailed racist emails some exchanged. Others were found fixing traffic tickets for colleagues and friends while inflicting a punishing regime on
low-income residents.

Justice department officials are negotiating a so-called “consent decree” with Ferguson city leaders, demanding that they make a series of reforms to the criminal justice system or face being sued by the government.

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