Ferguson teen's parents will sue officer

Darren Wilson, Michael Brown, Ferguson
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The family of Ferguson, Mo., teenager Michael Brown intends to sue Darren Wilson, the police officer who killed him in a shooting that attracted national attention, they said Thursday.

“You will get a more clear, a more accurate picture, of what took place that day,” said Anthony Gray, one of the lawyers who represents the family.

The suit will be filed against Wilson and the city of Ferguson, lawyers said, adding that more parties may be named. It will cover “wrongful death” and may include “other actions.”

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Leslie McSpadden and Michael Brown Sr., Michael Brown’s parents, did not take questions. But their attorneys said they believe that they can win a civil case even though federal and state investigators did not bring criminal charges against the officer.

“I think that the standard that we have is totally different,” said Daryl Parks, another lawyer.

The standard of proof required to win a civil case is lower than the one needed to file criminal charges, they said.

Federal authorities said Wednesday that they had not found enough evidence to prove Wilson had known he was in the wrong when he shot the unarmed Brown — the particularly high standard of proof required for federal civil rights charges. They said they could not disprove his assertion that he feared for his life at the time of the shooting. The family's lawyers said they disagreed with the finding.

Along with its decision not to charge Wilson, the Justice Department announced on Wednesday that investigators had found evidence of civil rights violations committed by the Ferguson Police Department. The family’s lawyers hinted that they will take advantage of the findings as they lay out their case.

“Probably the only encouraging part of it was the things that they have found within the city of Ferguson,” Parks said.

He said that the findings will show that the police culture described in the report is “the same culture that existed” when Brown was shot.

The report found that that police were driven in part by racial bias when they disproportionately stopped, arrested and cited black residents. Investigators found police and court officials made racist jokes in email threads and were not disciplined on multiple occasions.  

The release of the report, which Attorney General Eric HolderEric H. HolderLawyer claims death threats after anti-Black Lives Matter lawsuit Adviser: Obama can’t ‘erase decades’ of racism Airbnb enlists civil rights leaders in discrimination fight MORE called “searing,” ends the official investigation into a case that has been closely watched around the country. Brown's shooting ignited a national debate over the way police officers treat minorities and how officers who shoot civilians are prosecuted.

The case, along with the death of Eric Garner at the hands of New York City police officers, has led to more widespread calls for criminal justice reform.