St. Louis County Prosecutor Robert McCulloch says the grand jury currently hearing evidence in the shooting death of unarmed black teen Michael Brown by a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri, is not the source of recent leaks to the media.
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In a statement released on Thursday morning, McCulloch said the grand jury has released no information or evidence from the case, and refuted speculation that information recently published in The New York Times and the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, that seemed to support Wilson’s narrative of the Aug. 9 killing, came from the grand jury.
“Even a cursory reading of the news articles reporting the information refutes that claim,” McClloch said. “As exasperating as I and others find the piecemeal release of information and documents, no information or evidence has been released by the grand jury, any individual juror or anyone associated with the grand jury.
“Whoever is releasing this information is doing great disservice to the grand jury process,” McCulloch continued. “Additionally, anyone suggesting that the integrity of the entire grand jury process has been destroyed is wrong, irresponsible and does a great disservice to the public.”
A New York Times story published earlier this month quoted an anonymous government official briefed on the civil rights investigation into the shooting, laying out for the first time what is alleged to be Wilson’s narrative of the shooting.
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Days later the St. Louis Post-Dispatch published an official autopsy and report conducted by the St. Louis County Medical Examiner’s office, in which experts say a gunshot wound to Brown’s hand suggested, as Wilson and the police claim, that Brown was reaching for Wilson’s gun shortly before being killed.
One of the experts, forensic pathologist Dr. Judy Melinek, later told msnbc that the Dispatch had taken her words out of context and that there were many possible scenarios that could have led to Brown suffering the kind of hand wound he suffered that day.
The many official leaks, all of which have tended to support Wilson’s claims of self-defense, trouble many of Brown’s supporters and local residents who believe the leaks are paving the way for a decision by the grand jury not to indict Wilson.
The grand jury is expected to return a decision on whether or not to charge Wilson by mid-November.
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Meanwhile, local and state officials have prepared for a decision by purchasing additional riot gear including tear gas and percussion grenades and other equipment and weaponry. Local business owners have been urged for a contingency plan in case of mass protests and violence in the wake of a decision, and school superintendents have written McCulloch to request that he announce the grand jury’s decision after school hours because of safety concerns for school children.
Attorney General Eric Holder has also weighed in, calling the leaks inappropriate and expressing his discontent with what he described as an attempt to shape public opinion in the case.
“I’ve said I’m exasperated. That’s a nice way of saying I’m mad, because that’s just not how things should be done,” Holder said on Wednesday. “Whoever the sources of the leaks are need to shut up.”