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Wednesday, July 17, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Leak Claims Miss Mark, Ferguson Prosecutor Says

CLAYTON, Mo. (CN) - Reports of leaks by the grand jury investigating the Ferguson police shooting of Michael Brown had the prosecutor spitting fire Thursday.

"A tweet several weeks ago claimed the author talked to a friend who is serving on the GJ about the case," St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Bob McCulloch said in a statement. "That did not happen. An investigation revealed that the account had, indeed, been hacked and the origin/author of the tweet is unknown. The owner of the account has no connection with any member of the grand jury."

No member of the grand jury provided the details of the investigation as recounted in recent New York Times and St. Louis Post-Dispatch articles, McCulloch said.

He pointed out an acknowledgement from the Times that it got its information from a federal government official who was briefed on the case, while the Post-Dispatch conceded that its information did not come from the grand jury.

"As exasperating as I and others find the piecemeal release of information and documents, no information or evidence has been released by the grand jury, any individual juror or anyone associated with the grand jury," McCulloch said in the statement. "Whoever is releasing this information is doing a great disservice to the grand jury process. Additionally, anyone suggesting that the 'integrity of the entire grand jury process has been destroyed' is wrong, irresponsible and does a great disservice to the public."

The St. Louis County Prosecutor's Office began investigating the grand jury for leaks earlier this month after court personnel were alerted to a post on Twitter from someone claiming to know someone on the grand jury.

"I know someone sitting on the grand jury of this case There isn't enough at this point to warrant an arrest," a person using the Twitter handle @thesusannichols wrote.

McCulloch has been constantly under fire from Brown supporters who want him removed from the investigation. Calling for an independent federal investigation, these detractors claim that McCulloch cannot run an unbiased investigation because his father, a police officer, was killed by a black man in the line of duty.

Brown, an unarmed 18-year-old black man, was fatally shot by white Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson on Aug. 9. The shooting sparked months of sometimes violent protests against excessive force and racial profiling by police.

McCulloch convened the grand jury to hear evidence on whether to indict Wilson criminally in the Brown shooting. The grand jury has until Jan. 7 to reach a decision, but one is expected to come sometime in November.

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder added more fuel to the debate while speaking about the Ferguson police department Wednesday at an event in Washington, D.C.

"It's pretty clear that the need for wholesale change in that department is appropriate," Holder said. "The exact form of that change, I think we'll wait until we complete our inquiry."

A Justice Department spokesman told The New York Times that Holder wasn't arguing for replacing Ferguson Police Chief Thomas Jackson, but instead was referring to structural problems within the department.

Jackson has refuted a report from CNN earlier this week that he is preparing to resign amid the dissolution of the entire Ferguson police department, with operations taken over by St. Louis County.

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