Attorneys for the family of Michael Brown announced Thursday that they are “officially in the process” of filing a wrongful death civil lawsuit against the City of Ferguson and former Officer Darren Wilson, just one day after the Department of Justice concluded there was not enough evidence to charge Wilson for civil rights violations in the shooting death of the unarmed black teen.
“One of the things that was said yesterday was that they couldn’t meet the federal requirement” to press charges, Brown family attorney Daryl Parks said in a Thursday morning press conference. “[That’s] totally different than in the case we intend to make.”
Although the DOJ did not find enough evidence to charge Wilson with a crime, the department did release a damning report – the culmination of a months-long investigation following Brown’s death last summer – that indicated the Ferguson Police Department and courts fostered a culture of racial hostility, repeatedly violating the constitutional and civil rights of the city’s black residents.
“There’s obviously a rampant, wholesale, systemic problem in that department,” Parks said, pointing to the results of the DOJ investigation as necessary context for understanding Brown’s Aug. 9 death.
Brown’s parents, Lesley McSpadden and Michael Brown Sr. did not take questions during the brief press conference. “The last 24 hours have been very tough for them, and we have advised them not to talk,” one of the family’s attorneys said.
Asked how they would respond to the fact that both a St. Louis County grand jury and federal prosecutors declined to bring charges against Wilson, Parks argued that both decisions were reached in the context of state and federal law, respectively. “A civil standard is a different standard,” Parks said, “And we’ll deal with that in the proper place.”
“The standard we are now facing is not a reasonable doubt standard. There are other facts that demonstrate [Officer Wilson] did not have to kill Michael Brown.”