August 20, 2014 in Nation/World

Missouri governor won’t ask prosecutor to step down from shooting investigation

Nigel Duara Associated Press
 

McCulloch
(Full-size photo)

FERGUSON, Mo. – Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon said Tuesday that he would not seek the removal of the county prosecutor overseeing the investigation into the fatal police shooting of Michael Brown, which has sparked more than a week of nightly clashes between protesters and police.

St. Louis County Prosecutor Bob McCulloch’s deep family connections to police have been cited by some black leaders who question his ability to be impartial. McCullouch’s father, mother, brother, uncle and cousin all worked for the St. Louis Police Department, and his father was killed while responding to a call involving a black suspect.

Nixon said he would not ask McCulloch to leave the case, citing the “well-established process” by which prosecutors can recuse themselves from pending investigations to make way for a special prosecutor.

Departing from that process, Nixon said in a statement, “could unnecessarily inject legal uncertainty into this matter and potentially jeopardize the prosecution.”

McCulloch, a Democrat, was elected in 1991 and has earned a reputation for being tough on crime.

After sundown Tuesday, the streets of Ferguson filled once more with protesters, but the scene was much more subdued than recent nights, with somewhat smaller crowds. There were no immediate reports of clashes with police, who stood by with batons and gas masks.

Earlier in the day, Ferguson city leaders urged people to stay home after dark Tuesday to “allow peace to settle in” and pledged to try to improve the police force in the St. Louis suburb.

Benjamin Crump, an attorney for Brown’s family, said the 18-year-old’s funeral and memorial service would be Monday. The time and location had not been finalized.

Earlier Tuesday, a large crowd gathered in nearby St. Louis after officers responding to a report of a store robbery shot and killed a knife-wielding man. Police Chief Sam Dotson said the suspect acted erratically and told responding officers to “kill me now.”

Some members of the crowd shouted, “Hands up, don’t shoot,” a phrase that has been a refrain of protests since Brown’s death on Aug. 9. Like Brown, the 23-year-old suspect killed Tuesday was black.

A grand jury could begin hearing evidence today to determine whether the officer, Darren Wilson, should be charged in Brown’s death, said Ed Magee, spokesman for St. Louis County’s prosecuting attorney.

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