The lawyers for the family of Mike Brown formally announced Thursday the filing of a civil lawsuit against Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson, the city of Ferguson, Missouri, and the Ferguson Police Department that they said would introduce new evidence to prove Wilson didn’t have to shoot the unarmed teen last August. Brown family attorney Anthony Gray said the lawsuit, which seeks monetary damages but does not specify an amount, will be the first time that Wilson will be cross-examined over his version of events in the shooting that spurred national protests.
“We’re hopeful that our presentation of the evidence through this case will highlight the facts that nobody has seen, the physical evidence that nobody has talked about,” Gray said on the steps of St. Louis County Court as Brown’s family looked on during a news conference. “Not only should [Wilson] have been indicted from the very beginning, but he should be held responsible for the killing of Michael Brown Jr. on Aug. 9, 2014.”
The previously unseen evidence includes bullets lodged in nearby buildings, which Gray said proves Wilson shot at Brown as the 18-year-old was fleeing the officer. Wilson has maintained that he shot Brown during a struggle for his gun. A grand jury chose not to indict Wilson late last year, which set off a wave of sometimes violent protests in Ferguson.
Besides Wilson, the suit names the city of Ferguson and former Ferguson Police Chief Tom Jackson as defendants. “They cultivated the mindset” that led to the shooting, Gray said. “They fostered the environment that made the gunning down of Michael Brown Jr. effortless for Darren Wilson. He did it without compunction.” The city declined to comment on the lawsuit, according to NBC News.
Gray was referring to a scathing Justice Department report that found the Ferguson police force systematically discriminated against the city’s black residents, using them as revenue generators through excessive fines that put some citizens into deep debt. But the report also concluded that federal civil rights charges weren’t warranted in the Brown shooting.
Benjamin Crump, an attorney and Brown family spokesman, said the culture in Ferguson and the Brown shooting couldn’t be separated. “We believe that a culture existed that forecast something like this would happen in Ferguson, Missouri, and when you think about that Justice Department that revealed this cesspool of racism, how [do] you try to distinguish that overwhelming assortment of evidence from what happened on that Saturday afternoon to Mike Brown?” he asked. “How are individual officers not supposed to be affected by the things that existed on those emails?” he continued, referring to messages where President Barack Obama was characterized as a baby ape, among other racist missives.
Gray said the grand jury didn’t have the experience or the training to ask tough questions of Wilson, but that Brown’s legal team will be able to cross-examine the former officer at a civil trial. “How could a layperson know what to scrutinize in terms of a police officer’s behavior?” he asked.