Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
February 7, 2016

CBC Members Call for Full DOJ Investigation Into Ferguson Shooting (Updated)

(CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Fudge and other members call on the Justice Department to look at the police shooting of an unarmed African-American teen in Ferguson, Mo. (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated: 12:18 p.m. | The chairwoman of the Congressional Black Caucus and two of her colleagues are calling on the Justice Department to probe deeply into the Aug. 9 fatal shooting of an unarmed African-American teenager by a police officer in Ferguson, Mo.

Chairwoman Marcia L. Fudge, D-Ohio, co-signed a letter Monday evening addressed to Attorney General Eric. H. Holder Jr., with Judiciary ranking member John Conyers Jr., D-Mich., and the Democratic lawmaker who represents the Ferguson area, Rep. William Lacy Clay.

The letter acknowledged and expressed gratitude for the DOJ investigation already underway regarding the incident, in which a Ferguson policeman shot and killed 18-year-old Michael Brown. Police have said the teen tried to take an officer’s gun, but at least one witness said the teen was shot without cause.

“The St. Louis County Police Department, which is currently investigating the shooting, claims that the shooting occurred after Mr. Brown assaulted the officer and the two men struggled for the officer’s gun,” the members wrote, “but local community members have expressed strong skepticism and outrage about this explanation. According to one eye witness account, several shots hit Mr. Brown as he attempted to flee with his hands in the air … More broadly, press reports suggest that Mr. Brown’s shooting may be symptomatic of larger racial tensions in Ferguson.”

The members of the CBC are also urging the Justice Department to conduct a complete, stand-alone investigation into the shooting, as the current DOJ probe is intended to only, according to a Monday statement from Holder, “supplement, rather than supplant, the inquiry by local authorities.”

“We ask the Department to dedicate sufficient resources to investigate the legal and civil rights ramifications of the shooting and surrounding circumstances,” they wrote. “We urge the Department to examine both the facts of the specific incident as well as the potential for any pattern or practice of police misconduct by the Ferguson Police Department.

“First, the St. Louis County Police Department may not be the most objective or credible body to investigate civil rights matters involving law enforcement given evidence of racial profiling in the past year, which Congressman Clay has asked the Department of Justice to investigate,” they continued. “Second, only the federal government has the resources, the experience, and the independence to give this case the close scrutiny that the citizens of Ferguson and the greater St. Louis area deserve.”

Other members of Congress weighed in as well:

Missouri Sen. Roy Blunt, a Republican, in a statement on the shooting, said: “Everyone deserves a transparent understanding of what happened here. I am fully supportive of County Executive Charlie Dooley and St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar calling for DOJ and the FBI to take a careful, open review of the events that led to this tragedy for everyone involved.”

Missouri’s junior senator, Democrat Claire McCaskill, said in a statement: “As a mother, I grieve for this child and his family. I pray that the wonderful, hardworking, and God-loving people of Ferguson will find peace and patience as we wait for the results of what will be numerous and thorough investigations of what happened. I, like so many other Missourians, will not be satisfied until we have a complete and transparent understanding of all the facts and circumstances that led to this young man’s death.”

The shooting of Brown — who was bound for college at the end of the summer — is reminiscent of the circumstances surrounding the shooting of another black and unarmed teenager, Trayvon Martin, by a neighborhood watch coordinator, George Zimmerman, in Florida in 2012. Zimmerman claimed self-defense and gave an account suggesting that Martin was threatening him. Others described an interaction that would not have warranted gunshots.

The letter requests that further correspondence on the issue be directed to Conyers in his capacity as the top Democrat on the Judiciary panel.

Read the full letter to Holder on the Brown matter here.

  • Jack Everett

    It’s about time the storm troopers were brought to account.

  • A Semper Fi Marine

    There can be a “full investigation” of the Ferguson shooting, when there is FIRST a full investigation into the BLACKS COWARDS who come up behind WHITE’s and knock them out.

    • A Semper Fi Marine

      Hey Charles – SO – I’m “racist” because I call for EQUAL responses to attacks on Whites by Cowards? IF a Whitey attacks a a Black from behind – They are Cowards too. The difference is how the actions are handled. EQUAL justice and outcry – can’t have it both ways and not expect a degree of cynicism.

  • Scoop Jaxson

    In this related video, yet another reminder of why armed self-defense and the 2nd Amendment are so important:

  • Guest

    I believe it’s time a Congressional White Caucus (CWC) come together to ensure the rights and equality of Whites are upheld and that justice remains equal, regardless of Race, Creed or National Origin – You know – Kinda like like what the Constitution ALREADY states.

    Just my Take

  • kbrumskill

    Federal prosecutors declined to charge New York police officers who killed the unarmed Sean Bell in a 50-shot barrage hours before his 2006 wedding. The four New York officers who in 1999 fired 41 shots at Amadou Diallo, an unarmed West African immigrant, after they said they mistook his wallet for a gun were acquitted during a state trial and never faced federal prosecution for his killing.

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