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Federal civil rights charges called 'unlikely' in Ferguson shooting

| Friday, Oct. 31, 2014, 9:18 p.m.

Justice Department investigators have all but concluded they do not have a strong enough case to bring civil rights charges against Darren Wilson, the white police officer who shot and killed an unarmed black teenager in Ferguson, Mo., according to law enforcement officials.

When racial tension boiled over in Ferguson after the Aug. 9 shooting, Attorney General Eric Holder traveled to the St. Louis suburb to meet with city leaders and protest organizers in an effort to bring calm. He assured them that the federal government would open a civil rights investigation into the fatal shooting of Michael Brown, but that investigation seems unlikely to result in any charges.

“The evidence at this point does not support civil rights charges against Officer Wilson,” said one person briefed on the investigation, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the case.

Justice Department officials are loath to acknowledge publicly that their case cannot meet the high legal threshold for a successful civil rights prosecution. The timing is sensitive: Tensions are high in greater St. Louis as people await the results of a grand jury's review of the case.

Many supporters of Brown say they are convinced there will be no state-level indictment of Wilson. Federal officials have wanted to show that they are conducting a full and fair review.

Justice Department spokesman Brian Fallon said the case remains open and any discussion of its results is premature.

Other law enforcement officials interviewed by The Post said it was not too soon to say how the investigation would end. “The evidence we have makes federal civil rights charges unlikely,” one said.

A lawyer for Brown's family, Benjamin Crump, said he would not comment “on something that is not official.”

James Towey, Wilson's attorney, did not return calls or emails seeking comment.

The Justice Department is continuing its broad investigation of the policing practices of the Ferguson Police Department, which could result in wholesale reforms and reorganization.

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