U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said Monday evening that he was troubled by the amount of “sensitive” information pertaining to the fatal Aug. 9 shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown that he said has been “selectively released” over the past week.
Holder’s sentiment came as part of a lengthy statement updating the status of the federal civil rights investigation into the shooting, which took place in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson, Missouri. He urged patience from the public on the federal investigation, which he said would take time to complete.
“I realise there is tremendous interest in the facts of the incident that led to Michael Brown’s death, but I ask for the public’s patience as we conduct this investigation. The selective release of sensitive information that we have seen in this case so far is troubling to me,” said Holder, who President Barack Obama announced would travel to Ferguson on Wednesday.
“No matter how others pursue their own separate inquiries, the Justice Department is resolved to preserve the integrity of its investigation. This is a critical step in restoring trust between law enforcement and the community, not just in Ferguson, but beyond.”
Ferguson has been the site of racially charged protests since the Aug. 9 shooting of Brown by Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson. Clashes between protesters and police had calmed as the week progressed but ramped up again over the weekend.
Holder said the Justice Department began conducting its federal autopsy of Brown’s body on Monday, which he said was being performed by “one of the most experienced medical examiners in the United States military.” Holder announced Sunday that the federal government would conduct its own autopsy, hours before Brown’s family released an autopsy conducted on their behalf. That autopsy showed Brown was shot at least six times, including at least twice in the head.
Holder also said that as part of the investigation, more than 40 FBI agents continued conducting new interviews and canvassing the neighbourhood where Brown was shot. Holder said that as part of his trip to Ferguson on Wednesday, he intends to meet with FBI investigators and other federal law-enforcement officials.
Two days ahead of his trip, Holder urged calm from both law-enforcement officials and protesters in Ferguson.
“In order to truly begin the process of healing, we must also see an end to the acts of violence in the streets of Ferguson,” Holder said. “Those who have been peacefully demonstrating should join with law enforcement in condemning the actions of looters and others seeking to enflame tensions.”
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