ST. LOUIS -- A prominent civil rights organization, citing "grave legal concerns," is asking a Missouri judge to convene a new grand jury to consider charges against the white police officer who fatally shot unarmed black 18-year-old Michael Brown.
The NAACP's Legal Defense and Educational Fund submitted a letter Monday to St. Louis County Circuit Judge Maura McShane. It also asks for a special prosecutor to oversee the case and an investigation of the grand jury proceedings that ended in November with a decision not to charge Officer Darren Wilson.
Wilson fatally shot Brown on Aug. 9 in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson. The shooting led to sometimes-violent protests that escalated again on Nov. 24 after St. Louis County Prosecutor Bob McCulloch announced the grand jury decision.
Protests also erupted following a similar grand jury decision in the police chokehold death of Eric Garner, an unarmed New York City black man. The demonstrations spread to cities around the country and stoked fierce debates about the relationship between law enforcement and black men in America.
Lawyers and other experts who analyzed the Missouri grand jury transcripts for the fund raised concerns about the decision to allow a witness to provide false testimony, erroneous legal instructions to grand jurors, and "preferential treatment of Mr. Wilson by the St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney's Office," said Sherrilyn Ifill, the fund's president.
Ed Magee, a spokesman for McCulloch, declined to comment Tuesday. Messages were left with Wilson's attorney and the clerk for McShane.
Nine white and three black jurors heard more than 70 hours of testimony from about 60 witnesses.
McCulloch said he assigned prosecutors in his office to present evidence, rather than doing it himself, because he was aware of "unfounded but growing concern that the investigation might not be fair."
McCulloch's father was a police officer killed by a black suspect. He did not recuse himself from the investigation despite some calls for him to do so.