WASHINGTON – The family of Michael Brown, the unarmed 18-year-old black man fatally shot last August by a white police officer, filed a wrongful-death lawsuit Thursday against the city of Ferguson, Missouri.
The suit seeks $75,000 in compensation and an unspecified amount in punitive damages, as well as a court order banning the use of police techniques “that demean, disregard, or underserve its African-American population,” attorneys for the family said in a press conference outside the St. Louis County Courthouse.
Besides the city government, the suit names the officer who fired the fatal shots, Darren Wilson, and former Ferguson police chief Tom Jackson.
A St. Louis County grand jury voted last November not to indict Wilson for killing Brown.
The U.S. Department of Justice issued a report in early March accusing the nearly all-white Ferguson police department of a pattern of unconstitutional conduct and of engaging in racial profiling against the town’s overwhelmingly African-American population.
At the same time, federal prosecutors declined to bring federal civil rights charges against Wilson for Brown’s death.
“We expect to put on evidence that you never heard about before, that you have never seen,” one of the Brown family’s lawyers, Anthony Gray, said at Thursday’s press conference.
Brown’s parents, Lesley McSpadden and Michael Brown Sr., were present on the courthouse steps, but remained silent while their attorneys talked to reporters.
“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,” attorney Benjamin Crump said. “But time and time again, the objective evidence contradicts the standard police narrative.”
Brown’s case spurred nationwide protests and a renewed debate over police treatment of black people.
Anger has been fueled by a half-dozen police killings of unarmed African-Americans in the months following Brown’s death.
In Ferguson, meanwhile, the fallout from the case had led to the resignations of police chief Jackson, the city manager and the municipal judge.