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US Town Braces for Grand Jury Decision in Brown Case

  • VOA News

Benjamin Crump, left, and Anthony Gray, attorneys for the family of shooting victim Michael Brown, speak about the grand jury process in Clayton, Missouri, Nov. 13, 2014.

Benjamin Crump, left, and Anthony Gray, attorneys for the family of shooting victim Michael Brown, speak about the grand jury process in Clayton, Missouri, Nov. 13, 2014.

The parents of a black man killed by a white police officer in the Midwestern state of Missouri are calling on their son's supporters as well as law enforcement to remain "peaceful, calm and dignified" as a grand jury prepares to announce whether to charge the officer with a crime.

The family's attorneys held a news conference Thursday, echoing Missouri Governor Jay Nixon, who called on protesters to avoid rioting, looting and violence. But the attorneys faulted him for not also calling on police to exercise restraint.

Michael Brown was shot in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson on August 9, after Officer Darren Wilson ordered Brown and a friend to stop walking in the street. The incident has been racially charged because Wilson is white and Brown was black.

The grand jury was set to hear from Dr. Michael Baden, a private forensic pathologist hired by the victim's family, who performed an autopsy on Brown.

Brown's supporters want Wilson charged with murder, but the grand jury could choose manslaughter or no charges at all.

The grand jury's decision has the potential to inspire public outbursts no matter which way it rules. But officials are particularly concerned that no indictment could trigger a renewal of the violent protests that wracked Ferguson earlier this year.

Missouri officials have said they expect the grand jury to reach a decision by late November.

Businesses on the Ferguson street that saw the heaviest rioting following the shooting have boarded up their windows.

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder spoke with Missouri officials Wednesday about preparations for possible demonstrations. He called on the area's predominantly white law enforcement officials to "respect the rights of protesters," while acknowledging that any violence by the demonstrators would be "unacceptable."

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