By Jim Salter, AP
CLAYTON, Missouri–Michael Brown’s parents filed a wrongful-death lawsuit against the city of Ferguson on Thursday, opening a new chapter in the legal battle over the 18-year-old’s fatal shooting by a white officer that sparked a protest movement about the way police in the U.S. treat blacks.
Attorneys for Brown’s parents promised the case would bring to light new forensic evidence that would raise doubts about the police version of the events.
Brown was unarmed and walking in the street with a friend on Aug. 9 when officer Darren Wilson told them to move to the sidewalk. That led to a heated confrontation and a scuffle between Wilson and Brown inside Wilson’s squad car.
Wilson shot Brown after the scuffle spilled into the street. Some witnesses said Brown was trying to surrender, but Wilson said Brown was moving toward him aggressively, forcing him to shoot.
Brown’s shooting led to sometimes-violent demonstrations and spawned a national ��Black Lives Matter�� movement calling for changes in how police deal with minorities. In the end, local and federal authorities ruled that the shooting was justified.
Civil cases generally require a lower standard of proof than criminal cases. Jurors must find a preponderance of evidence, not proof beyond a reasonable doubt needed to convict in a criminal trial.
The civil case had been expected for months. If it comes to trial, the lawsuit could force a full review of all the evidence in the shooting and bring key witnesses to be questioned in open court, including Wilson, who has resigned from the police force.
Brown’s parents, Lesley McSpadden and Michael Brown Sr., attended a news conference announcing the lawsuit. A tear rolled down McSpadden’s cheek as attorney Benjamin Crump spoke.
��It’s all part of the journey,�� she said.
Messages seeking comment from Ferguson city officials were not immediately returned.
Former Police Chief Tom Jackson, who was named in the complaint along with Wilson, declined to discuss the lawsuit, telling The Associated Press that he was unaware of it until a reporter told him.
Civil suits often unfold much differently than criminal matters.
Two decades ago, football star O.J. Simpson was acquitted of the killings of his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend, Ronald Goldman. But a civil jury awarded the Brown and Goldman families US$33.5 million in wrongful-death damages.