Timing of leaked Ferguson details could be ‘strategic’

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FERGUSON, Mo. — This is the new normal in Ferguson: Protests, day and night, for more than 70 days now.

Sometimes it’s hundreds of demonstrators, sometimes just a handful. But they’re always outside the Ferguson Police Department, clamoring for the indictment of Officer Darren Wilson in the shooting death of unarmed teenager Michael Brown.

And with new details about the investigation leaked, tensions are escalating.

On Monday night, two protestors were detained by St. Louis County police — including Missouri State Sen. Jamilah Nasheed. She was detained as she blocked traffic in the middle of the street while protesting outside the Ferguson police department.

Now, there are fears about what could happen next.

“Everybody is planning for whatever the grand jury decides,” said Amy Hunter, racial justice director at the YWCA. “Certainly there are lots of us that planning peaceful protests for should it not be indicted. Certainly there are other people that have other ideas at hand.”

One protester put it succinctly:

“If there is not an indictment, excuse my French, all hell is going to break loose.”

New details revealed

Brown’s blood was found on the officer’s uniform and inside his police car, law enforcement sources told CNN. Those sources corroborated details first reported by The New York Times.

“That tends to support any testimony that there was some kind of scuffle in the police car,” said CNN legal analyst Danny Cevallos. “And if so, that tends to support Officer Wilson’s testimony and his justification for using deadly force.”

At least one of the wounds Brown suffered is consistent with a struggle and appeared to be fired at close range, according to a different source with first-hand knowledge of the investigation.

At least six shots

A private autopsy conducted for the Brown family showed that Brown had been shot at least six times, including twice in the head.

But Cevallos said the newly released details about Brown’s blood in the officer’s gun and on his uniform might only go so far in helping the officer’s case.

“Ultimately, that officer will have to come up with justification not for firing his gun the first time, but for each and every bullet that came out of his firearm — whether at the car or away from the car,” he said.

Brown’s death is the subject of two inquires: one by a St. Louis County grand jury considering whether Wilson should be charged, and the other by federal investigators looking into whether any civil rights violations occurred.

Timing of the leak

As anticipation mounts over the grand jury’s decision, the new details leaked by a federal source to The New York Times could be strategic, a former FBI official told CNN.

“It could be really for, in part, a beneficial purpose, to start leading those community leaders and those leading the protests to believe that there won’t be an indictment,” said Ron Hosko, former assistant director of the FBI Criminal Division.

“It may be over time, that will have a beneficial effect of no riots, no battles in the streets again.”