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Two lawsuits in the fatal police shooting of Michael Brown last summer in Ferguson, Missouri, have been moved to federal court at the request of the former officer who killed Brown and the town's ex-police chief.
The suits — a wrongful death action by Brown's parents and a personal injury action by Dorian Johnson, who was walking with Brown when they were approached by former Ferguson police Officer Darren Wilson — were filed against Wilson and former Police Chief Thomas Jackson. They asked to move the cases to federal court, which they argued was a better forum to deal with the constitutional issues underlying the claims, according to court documents filed Tuesday.
The suit by Brown's parents seeks compensation of $75,000 or more for "medical treatment for psychological damages," an order requiring Ferguson to treat African-Americans fairly and five years of court monitoring of the police department.
Johnson, whose suit also names Ferguson as a respondent, contends that Wilson initiated the confrontation that ended in Brown's death in August, used excessive force and "acted with deliberate indifference or reckless disregard" for Johnson's rights. He's seeking $25,000 or more in damages on each of four claims.
A grand jury and the Justice Department declined to charge Wilson, who has left the police force, as has Jackson.
Johnson's attorney, James Williams, characterized the suits as a coordinated effort "to bring Darren Wilson to justice through the civil justice system" because "the criminal justice system would not bring Darren Wilson to justice."
The lawsuits are similar in their allegations and wording. Williams told NBC station KSDK of St. Louis that he has been in regular contact with the attorneys for Brown's parents.
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— M. Alex Johnson