Ferguson Riot Probe Focuses on Victim’s Stepfather

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The stepfather of Michael Brown, the black Missouri teenager whose August killing by a white policeman led to protests across the U.S., is being investigated for comments he made that may have helped incite a riot.

A St. Louis County grand jury last week declined to charge Ferguson, Missouri, police officer Darren Wilson with any crime related to his fatal shooting of the unarmed Brown, 18, in an Aug. 9 street encounter.

That decision, announced by St. Louis County Prosecutor Robert McCulloch on the evening of Nov. 24, touched off immediate protests, riots and looting, first in Ferguson and later in the wider St. Louis-metropolitan area. The protests spread quickly to other U.S. cities.

St. Louis County police are now investigating crimes related to the unrest including arson, robbery and destruction of property, department spokesman Shawn McGuire said yesterday in a statement. Brown’s stepfather, Louis Head, was heard in televised broadcasts exhorting those angry with the grand jury’s decision to burn down the Ferguson police headquarters.

“The statements made by Louis Head are also under investigation,” McGuire said. Results of those inquiries will be turned over to McCulloch’s office, he said.

Wrenching News

Head today apologized for his outburst in a statement issued by Parks & Crump LLC, the Tallahassee-based law firm representing the Brown family. While it relayed Head’s statement, the firm isn’t representing him in relation to the current probe, Adner Marcelin, a Parks & Crump spokesman, said by e-mail.

“Something came over me as I watched and listened to my wife, the mother of Michael Brown, Jr., react to the gut-wrenching news that the cop who killed her son wouldn’t be charged with a crime,” Head said in the statement. “I screamed out words that I shouldn’t have screamed in the heat of the moment.”

“It was wrong and I humbly apologize to all of those who read my pain and anger as a true desire for what I want for our community,” he said. “It wasn’t.”

Head criticized the grand jury’s determination as well as Missouri Governor Jay Nixon’s declaration of a state of emergency prior to that announcement saying “it set the stage” for his outbursts.

Facebook Threats

In Seattle yesterday, federal criminal charges were unsealed against Jaleel Tariq Abdul-Jabbaar, a Kirkland, Washington, resident, who is accused of using his Facebook account to urge readers to kill Wilson and harm his family.

Abdul-Jabbaar, who allegedly started posting threats on Aug. 14 just five days after Brown was shot, is charged with three counts of making interstate threats, each punishable by as long as five years in prison.

He made an initial appearance yesterday before federal Magistrate Judge Brian Tsuchida, who scheduled a bail hearing for Dec. 5, said Emily Langlie, a spokeswoman for the Seattle U.S. Attorney’s office.

Assistant Federal Public Defender Kyana Givens, Abdul-Jabbaar’s attorney, declined to comment on the case.

The Seattle case is U.S. v. Abdul-Jabbaar, 14-mj-00467, U.S. District Court, Western District of Washington (Seattle).