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Michael Brown Family Files Wrongful-Death Suit Against Ferguson, Darren Wilson

The family is suing the St. Louis suburb and ex-officer Wilson following the 18-year-old's death last August, which set off a wave of protests.
/ Source: NBC News

The family of Michael Brown filed a civil lawsuit Thursday against the city of Ferguson, Missouri, former officer Darren Wilson and former police chief Thomas Jackson.

In announcing the wrongful-death suit, lawyers for Brown's family said they plan to show that Wilson "unjustifiably shot and killed" the teen and used "unnecessary and unreasonable" force when he shot the unarmed 18-year-old at least six times.

The suit did not specify how much money the family is seeking, but it includes at least $75,000 for compensatory damages, such as for psychological treatment.

The lawsuit said that Brown's parents, Michael Brown Sr. and Lesley McSpadden, loved their son and "have suffered extreme and severe mental anguish and pain and have been injured both in mind and in body."

Attorneys for the family said at a news conference that they have evidence not before heard or seen in the case, but didn’t specify what it was. “It's not Michael Brown's parents filing the lawsuit, it's forensic evidence filing this lawsuit," said attorney Benjamin Crump.

Brown Sr. and McSpadden declined to address reporters. Ferguson city officials, meanwhile, said they would not comment on pending litigation, and Wilson's attorney could not immediately be reached for comment.

A grand jury and the Justice Department declined to prosecute Wilson, who is white, after the Aug. 9 encounter with Brown, who was black. Wilson, who has since resigned from the Ferguson police, said Brown reached for his police gun during a tussle in broad daylight and that he feared for his life.

The Brown family's lawyers have said they can win the civil suit because the burden of proof is lower. They plan to revisit evidence already scrutinized in the case and give a "much clearer picture" of what took place on the day Brown was killed.

The suit also cited the Justice Department's findings that Ferguson police have engaged in a pattern of biased policing, with black citizens bearing the brunt.

Brown's death led to weeks of unrest in the St. Louis suburb as well as nationwide protests against excessive police force. Several city officials have also resigned.

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— Erik Ortiz