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Prosecutor: Some Ferguson witnesses lied, but no charges

ST. LOUIS, Mo. - Some witnesses who testified before the grand jury that investigated the shooting death of 18-year-old Michael Brown obviously lied under oath, the prosecutor said Friday.

St. Louis County Prosecutor Bob McCulloch, who convened the grand jury in August, was interviewed by KTRS Radio in St. Louis. It was his first interview since he announced on Nov. 24 that the grand jury would not indict Ferguson officer Darren Wilson in the fatal shooting of Brown, who was black and unarmed.

"Clearly some were not telling the truth," McCulloch said.

He made reference to one woman who claimed to have seen the shooting. McCulloch said she "clearly wasn't present. She recounted a story right out of the newspaper" that backed up Wilson's version of events, he said. McCulloch did not return messages left with his office by The Associated Press on Friday.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports McCulloch added he doesn't plan to pursue perjury charges.

"Early on I decided that anyone who claimed to have witnessed anything would be presented to the grand jury," McCulloch told the radio station, according to the paper.

The shooting by a white police officer on Aug. 9 spurred unrest in St. Louis, and the subsequent decision not to indict triggered nationwide protests and debates about race relations and police departments that patrol minority neighborhoods.

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In the radio interview, McCulloch also defended the decision to make the announcement at night, saying it was best for schools and allowed business owners time to decide whether to open the next day.

"There was no good time to make the announcement," he said, according to the Post-Dispatch. "Whatever was going to happen was going to happen."

Congresswoman Karla May is pushing for a state investigation of McCulloch, and whether he "manipulated" the grand jury into the decision.

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A joint Missouri House and Senate committee is already investigating why Gov. Jay Nixon did not use National Guard troops in Ferguson on Nov. 24. May, a St. Louis Democrat, sent a letter Thursday to committee chairman Sen. Kurt Schaefer, urging that the investigation expand to look at whether McCulloch committed prosecutorial misconduct.

She said in an interview that McCulloch should have removed himself from the case at the outset.

Critics had called for McCulloch to either step aside or for Nixon to appoint a special prosecutor, citing concerns about whether McCulloch could fairly oversee the case. McCulloch's father was a police officer killed in the line of duty by a black assailant in the 1960s.

Ferguson Mayor James Knowles III and others expressed anger that of the hundreds of National Guard troops dispatched to the St. Louis region on Nov. 24, none were in Ferguson as the announcement was made.

No timetable has been set for the legislative committee's investigation, and it wasn't clear if the committee would consider investigating McCulloch. A message left with Schaefer was not immediately returned.