After hinting at it for months, the parents of slain teen Michael Brown filed a wrongful-death lawsuit Thursday against the city of Ferguson, which may give them a chance to get a measure of justice for their son and bring to light the many rumors and innuendo about what truly happened on that Ferguson, Missouri, street Aug. 9.
Though a grand jury in St. Louis County declined to indict police officer Darren Wilson in Brown’s death, igniting outrage across the country and months of protests, the family will have a lower standard of proof in the civil case. If the case manages to reach the trial stage and the sides don’t come to a settlement, the family’s attorneys will only need to convince a jury that a preponderance of evidence points to Brown’s wrongful death — not the proof beyond a reasonable doubt that is needed to convict in a criminal trial.
At a press conference, family attorney Benjamin Crump promised that they would be able to raise doubts about the police version of events and introduce new forensic evidence.
“The narrative of the law enforcement all across the country for shooting unarmed people of color is the same: That they had no other choice,” Crump said. “But time and time again, the objective evidence contradicts the standard police narrative.”
The news conference was also attended by Michael Brown’s parents, Michael Brown Sr. and Lesley McSpadden, who wasn’t able to hold back her tears, according to an Associated Press account.
“It’s all part of the journey,” she said.
The suit accuses Wilson of causing the entire conflict by using “unnecessary and unwarranted profane language” when he told Brown and his companion to “get the (expletive) out of the street.” Without the profane language causing tension to escalate, the suit says the encounter would have been “uneventful.”
The attorneys said they planned to use Wilson’s comments against him, when he told a supervisor that Brown had his arms raised right before Wilson shot him.
Crump said they would also use evidence that was ignored by the grand jury and the Justice Department, such as bullets from Wilson’s gun that were found in buildings.