MO Gov.: 'Vigorous prosecution' needed after death of Brown

MO Gov. Nixon: 'Vigorous prosecution' needed after death of Michael Brown

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Police make an arrest at the McDonald's in Ferguson, MO, on Monday. (Source: Mike Mohundro/KFVS12) Police make an arrest at the McDonald's in Ferguson, MO, on Monday. (Source: Mike Mohundro/KFVS12)
The funeral for Michael Brown, the unarmed man shot and killed by a Ferguson, Mo, police officer, has been scheduled for Monday. (Source: Facebook) The funeral for Michael Brown, the unarmed man shot and killed by a Ferguson, Mo, police officer, has been scheduled for Monday. (Source: Facebook)

FERGUSON, MO (RNN) - Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon made his boldest statement in the shooting death of an unarmed black man on Tuesday, saying a "vigorous prosecution must now be pursued."

In the statement, Nixon said,"The democratically elected St. Louis County prosecutor and the Attorney General of the United States, each have a job to do. Their obligation to achieve justice in the shooting death of Michael Brown must be carried out thoroughly, promptly, and correctly; and I call upon them to meet those expectations."

Nixon said the calming of tensions in Ferguson, MO and the resolution of Brown's death is what's now needed the most. 

"So I ask that we continue to stand together as we work to achieve justice for Michael Brown, restore hope and peace to the streets of Ferguson, and march together toward a future of greater opportunity and understanding for all of us,” Nixon said. 

The protest scene on Tuesday was calm throughout the day. But as midnight struck on Wednesday, and with the majority of protesters gone home, there was a scuffle between some individuals and authorities, with a water bottle and more arrests, media on the scene reported.

Some on the scene said that when the scuffle broke out, there were more media on the scene than protesters. 

Missouri Highway Patrol Capt. Ron Johnson said 47 arrests were made overnight, but there were fewer incidents overall, and no Molotov cocktails or shootings, though urine was thrown at police

"I believe there was a turning point made," he said. "And I think that turning point was made by the clergy, the activists, the volunteers, and the men and women of law enforcement who partnered together to made a difference."

A grand jury is set to begin in Brown's death on Wednesday. Nixon did say, however, that he would not removed St. Louis County Prosecutor Bob McCulloch from the case. 

“From the outset, I have been clear about the need to have a vigorous prosecution of this case, and that includes minimizing any potential legal uncertainty. I am not asking St. Louis County Prosecutor Bob McCulloch to recuse himself from this case. There is a well-established process by which a prosecutor can recuse themselves from a pending investigation, and a special prosecutor be appointed. Departing from this established process could unnecessarily inject legal uncertainty into this matter and potentially jeopardize the prosecution,” the statement said. 

Community activists in Ferguson, MO called for a night to "let peace sit in," but protesters still walk the streets in the St. Louis suburb on Tuesday night. 

Benjamin Crump, who is representing Brown's mother and father, announced on Tuesday that Brown's funeral will be held on Monday. The services will be held at the Friendly Temple Missionary Baptist Church in St. Louis. Rev. Al Sharpton announced that he would give Brown's eulogy. No time has been announced.

The Justice Department's autopsy of Brown's body has been completed. Results have not been released.

The analysis, ordered by Attorney General Eric Holder, was the third done on the 18-year-old killed Aug. 9 by a police officer. Brown's parents had a private autopsy performed in addition to the one by officials in the Ferguson area.

Crump held a news conference Monday with the examiners to give the preliminary findings. They reported Brown had been shot at least six times, most of the bullets striking him as he faced the officer, Darren Wilson. One hit him in the top of the head and another above his left eye.

Holder announced he would visit the St. Louis suburb this week as the federal investigation continues.

Tear gas wafted again through the streets Monday evening, bringing a halt to marches calling for justice in the death investigation.

Capt. Ron Johnson of the Missouri Highway Patrol called the night "another step forward in restoring order to the city of Ferguson" and praised the peaceful protesters during an early Tuesday morning news conference. He blamed clashes on "violent agitators (who) hide the crowd and attempt to create chaos."

Agitators came from across the country, Johnson said, and among more than 30 arrested were people from New York and California.

More than 20 people became "loud and quite aggressive," he said.

"Several of the protesters encouraged the crowd to turn around," he said.

Two people were reported shot, one in the hand, Johnson said, and officers came under fire, with "not a single bullet fired by officers despite coming under heavy attack."

Johnson also reported two fires were lit, one at a business and one in an unoccupied home, and there were two guns confiscated at a car stop near a media staging area.

He concluded Tuesday morning's news conference with a message to those wanting to take back their community.

"And I am telling you, we're going to make this neighborhood whole, and we are going to do it together," Johnson said.

Ferguson has seen protests that have sometimes devolved into violence and looting since the shooting. Witnesses who came forward described Brown, who was unarmed, as a victim of excessive force who was holding his hands up when Wilson opened fire.

An account supplied by an anonymous caller on a radio show stated Brown fought with the officer and charged at him before getting shot. CNN reported that matched the story supplied by the officer.

The police department released surveillance video Friday of a man reported to be Brown stealing cigars from a convenience store and shoving the clerk shortly before the shooting. Critics questioned the timing and relevance of the video, although the radio caller claimed that incident was involved in the confrontation. 

The situation has turned the town upside-down, with schools canceled for the week and a curfew put in place over the weekend.

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