Holder: DOJ probe to focus on civil rights violations in Ferguson

Attorney General Eric Holder told FBI officials in Missouri on Wednesday that his department is investigating whether local police violated civil rights law in connection with the death of Michael Brown.

Holder said the Justice Department will focus on possible civil rights crimes and leave the regular investigation into the Aug. 9 shooting of the unarmed black teenager to state and local law enforcement.

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Brown was shot six times by officer Darren Wilson, who is white. The incident sparked riots and days of protests.

Holder said he has assembled a "very experienced" team of prosecutors and agents, according to a pool report.

"Our investigation is different," Holder told federal officials. "We're looking for possible violations of federal civil rights statutes."

He promised a "thorough and fair" investigation.

The FBI agent in charge, William Woods, and U.S. attorney Rich Callahan were in attendance at the investigative briefing.

Holder met earlier in the day with more than 50 community leaders from Ferguson, where Brown died, and surrounding localities.

He also met with a group of students at Florissant Community College to hear their views of how the local police treat young African-Americans.

At that meeting he recounted his own humiliating brush with racial profiling when he was pulled over as a young man on the New Jersey Turnpike.

Earlier this week, Republican Sen. Roy Blunt (Mo.) pressed Holder not to take over the regular criminal investigation from Missouri law enforcement. Blunt later described Holder as receptive to his concerns.