Holder, who has made police misconduct cases a priority, will travel to Ferguson
Posted Aug 19, 2014 12:22 pm CDT
Attorney General Eric Holder travels to Ferguson, Missouri, on Wednesday where he will meet with community members and FBI agents conducting a civil-rights investigation.
President Obama announced Holder’s plans on Monday, report the New York Times, the Washington Post and the National Law Journal. Holder’s visit comes after National Guard troops failed to quell another night of unrest on Monday. Thirty-one people were arrested and two men were shot, but not by police. Some of the arrestees came from other states, including New York and California.
“Our officers came under heavy fire,” Missouri Highway Patrol Capt. Ronald Johnson said at an early morning press conference. “Not a single bullet was fired by officers.”
Holder released a statement on Monday saying “the full resources of the Department of Justice are being committed to our federal civil-rights investigation into the death of Michael Brown,” the 18-year-old man fatally shot by a Ferguson police officer.
Holder said more than 40 FBI agents canvassed the neighborhood where the shooting occurred, and several new interviews have been conducted as a result of the investigative work.
The Justice Department under Holder’s lead has made police misconduct cases a priority. In congressional testimony in April, he said the Justice Department’s civil rights division has filed a record number of criminal police misconduct cases, according to the National Law Journal account.
He has asked for an additional $1.9 million in the fiscal 2015 budget to address police misconduct.
American University law professor William Yeomans, a former lawyer in the civil rights division, told the National law Journal that the government faces a difficult standard if it were to prosecute the Ferguson officer, identified as Darren Wilson.
The government would have to show the officer acted with the specific intent to use more force than was reasonably necessary in the circumstances, Yeomans told the publication. Jurors can be reluctant to convict when an officer believes he is in danger, Yeomans said.