St. Louis County prosecutors must step up their investigations into the death of 18-year-old Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, Governor Jay Nixon said.
St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Robert McCulloch is “an experienced prosecutor and this is his opportunity to step up,” the 58-year-old Democrat said today on CNN’s “State of the Union.”
There have been calls to put a special prosecutor on the case instead of McCulloch because of criticism that he hasn’t been tough on law enforcement officers in the past, according to the New York Times. He was 12 in 1964 when his father, a police officer, was shot and killed by kidnapper Eddie Glenn, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
Nixon’s comments follow an eighth day of unrest that included tear gas, gunfire and arrests in Ferguson, the mostly black St. Louis suburb that has become a powder keg since Brown, a black teenager, was shot and killed while unarmed by police Aug. 9.
Authorities on Aug. 15 identified the officer who shot Brown as Darren Wilson, a six-year veteran with no disciplinary record.
About 40 Federal Bureau of Investigation agents came to Ferguson yesterday to interview witnesses of Brown’s shooting death, according to Capt. Ron Johnson of the Missouri State Highway Patrol. He said anyone with information about the shooting should cooperate with investigators.
“We don’t have any confidence in the St. Louis County prosecuting attorney’s office,” said U.S. Representative William Lacy Clay, a Democrat from St. Louis, according to a Post-Dispatch article dated yesterday. “I have no faith in him, but I do trust the FBI and the Justice Department.”
Federal officials, who are completing a parallel investigation alongside county officials, “help tremendously to make sure that all the information is getting out,” Nixon said.
Members of the Ferguson community, including Brown’s family, have criticized how local officials are handling the investigation. They’ve complained about the decision by Ferguson police to release documents describing Brown as a suspect in a “strong-arm” robbery at a convenience store recorded by a security camera shortly before his death.
“The police strategy of attempting to blame the victim will not divert our attention,” Brown’s family said in an Aug. 15 statement. “There is nothing based on the facts that have been placed before us that can justify the execution-style murder.”
Nixon said on CBS’s “Face the Nation” that he was unaware the video would be released and disagreed with the decision to do so, saying it “had an incendiary effect.”
“To attempt to, in essence, disparage the character of this victim in the middle of a process like this is not right, it’s just not right,” he said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “It did put the community and, quite frankly, the region and the nation on alert again.”
Police have said Brown attacked Wilson before he was shot to death. Residents say Brown raised his hands in surrender before he died.