Protesters take their pictures in front of the burning Juanita’s Fashion R Boutique on West Florissant Avenue in St. Louis, Mo. early Tuesday, Nov. 25, 2014. Protesters set fire to buildings and cars and loot businesses in the area where Michael Brown was fatally shot after a grand jury declined to indict white police officer Darren Wilson in the death of the unarmed, black 18-year-old. (AP Photo/St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Robert Cohen)
FERGUSON, Mo. (AP) — Missouri’s governor ordered more National Guardsmen into Ferguson on Tuesday to keep order after a night of violence over the grand jury decision in the police shooting of Michael Brown, as attorneys for the Brown family lashed out at the authorities’ handling of the case.
Smoke billowed from the blackened shells of burned-out Ferguson businesses on Tuesday, and glass littered the sidewalks in front of stores whose display windows were smashed during the protests that erupted after it was announced that police Officer Darren Wilson wouldn’t be indicted for killing Brown on Aug. 9.
Smoldering remains is all this left of a beauty supply that burned to ground Tuesday, Nov. 25, 2014, in Dellwood, Mo. The building and several others in and around Ferguson were burned during protests after a grand jury decided not to indict a white police officer in the killing of unarmed black 18-year-old Michael Brown. (AP Photo/St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Cristina Fletes-Boutte)
Monday night’s protests were far more destructive than any of those that followed Brown’s death, with more than a dozen businesses badly damaged or destroyed. Authorities reported hearing hundreds of gunshots, which for a time prevented fire crews from fighting the flames.
There were 61 arrests in Ferguson overnight, many for burglary and trespassing, St. Louis County Police spokesman Brian Schellman said. There were 21 arrests in St. Louis, where protesters broke some store windows along South Grand Avenue, St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay said.
J Jones, a barber at Queen’s Royal Touch Salon & Spa at the corner of Chambers Rd. and West Florissant Ave., sweeps away glass from broken windows, Tuesday, Nov. 25, 2014, in Ferguson, Mo., after overnight protests following a grand jury’s decision not to indict a white police officer in the killing of unarmed black 18-year-old Michael Brown.(AP Photo/St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Cristina Fletes-Boutte)
Gov. Jay Nixon issued a statement saying he was calling in more National Guard troops to assist law enforcement in Ferguson, but he didn’t say how many additional troops or how long they would remain.
Jon Belmar, chief of the St. Louis County police, said that unless his agency could bring in 10,000 officers, “I don’t think we can prevent folks who really are intent on destroying a community.”
At least 18 people were injured and sought treatment at area hospitals. One person was shot and was recovering Tuesday at SSM DePaul Health Center. The hospital didn’t give any details about the shooting. Two other people were admitted to Barnes-Jewish Hospital for undisclosed injuries. Everyone else was treated and released.
Meanwhile, many area districts cancelled classes out of concern for the safety of students traveling to and from school.
Attorney Benjamin Crump speaks during a news conference at Greater St. Mark Church Tuesday, Nov. 25, 2014, in St. Louis County, Mo. Rioting broke out Monday after a grand jury decided not to indict a white Ferguson police officer in the shooting death of the unarmed, black 18-year-old Michael Brown. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)
The grand jury’s decision means that Wilson, who is white, will not face any state criminal charges for killing Brown, whose death inflamed deep racial tensions between many black Americans and police.
Attorney Benjamin Crump said at a news conference Tuesday that he and the rest of the Brown family’s legal team objected to St. Louis County Prosecutor Bob McCulloch’s decision to call a grand jury and to not appoint a special prosecutor.
“We could see what the outcome was going to be, and that is what occurred last night,” Crump said.
Wilson’s lawyers issued a statement praising the decision and saying the officer, who has remained out of the public eye since the shooting, is grateful to his supporters.
“Law enforcement personnel must frequently make split-second and difficult decisions,” the lawyers wrote. “Officer Wilson followed his training and followed the law.”
McCulloch said the jury of nine whites and three blacks met on 25 separate days over three months, hearing more than 70 hours of testimony from about 60 witnesses, including three medical examiners and experts on blood, toxicology and firearms.
Lesley McSpadden, Michael Brown’s mother, is comforted outside the Ferguson police department as St. Louis County Prosecutor Robert McCulloch conveys the grand jury’s decision not to indict Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson in the shooting death of her son, Monday, Nov. 24, 2014 in Ferguson, Mo. (AP Photo/The St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Robert Cohen)
In the first flash of unrest after the grand jury announcement, Belmar said he told officers to back off, suggesting they handle the situation as if it were a festival or baseball game. But the situation quickly “spun out of control,” as protesters looted businesses and set fire to numerous vehicles, including at least two police cars. Officers eventually lobbed tear gas from inside armored vehicles to disperse crowds.
As McCulloch read his statement, Michael Brown’s mother, Lesley McSpadden, sat atop a vehicle listening to a broadcast of the announcement. When she heard the decision, she burst into tears and began screaming before being whisked away by supporters.
The crowd with her erupted in anger, converging on the barricade where police in riot gear were standing. They pushed down the barricade and began pelting police with objects, including a bullhorn. Officers stood their ground.
Speaking for nearly 45 minutes, a defensive McCulloch repeatedly cited what he said were inconsistencies and erroneous witness accounts. When asked by a reporter whether any of the accounts amount to perjury, he said, “I think they truly believe that’s what they saw, but they didn’t.”
McCulloch never mentioned that Brown was unarmed when he was killed.
Brown’s family released a statement saying they were “profoundly disappointed” but asked that the public “channel your frustration in ways that will make a positive change. We need to work together to fix the system that allowed this to happen.”
Shortly after the announcement, authorities released more than 1,000 pages of grand jury documents, including Wilson’s testimony.
Wilson told jurors that he initially encountered Brown and a friend walking in a street and, when he told them to move to a sidewalk, Brown responded with an expletive. Wilson then noticed that Brown had a handful of cigars, “and that’s when it clicked for me,” he said, referring to a radio report minutes earlier of a robbery at a nearby convenience store.
This undated photo released by the St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney’s office on Monday, Nov. 24, 2014, shows Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson during his medical examination after he fatally shot Michael Brown, in Ferguson, Mo. According to a medical record released as part of the evidence presented to the grand jury that declined to indict Wilson in the fatal shooting, doctors diagnosed Wilson with a facial contusion. (AP Photo/St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office)
Wilson said he asked a dispatcher to send additional police, and then backed his vehicle up in front of Brown and his friend. As he tried to open the door, Wilson said Brown slammed it back shut.
The officer said he pushed Brown with the door and Brown hit him in the face. Wilson told grand jurors he was thinking: “What do I do not to get beaten inside my car.”
“I drew my gun,” Wilson told the grand jury. “I said, ‘Get back or I’m going to shoot you.’”
“He immediately grabs my gun and says, ‘You are too much of a pussy to shoot me,’” Wilson told grand jurors. He said Brown grabbed the gun with his right hand, twisted it and “digs it into my hip.”
Asked why he felt the need to pull his gun, Wilson told grand jurors he was concerned another punch to his face could “knock me out or worse.”
After shots were fired in the vehicle, Brown fled and Wilson gave chase. At some point, Brown turned around to face the officer.
Witness accounts were conflicted about whether Brown walked, stumbled or charged back toward Wilson before he was fatally wounded, McCulloch said. There were also differing accounts of how or whether Brown’s hands were raised. His body fell about 153 feet from Wilson’s vehicle.
President Barack Obama speaks to the media in the briefing room of the White House, Monday, Nov. 24, 2014, in Washington, after the Ferguson grand jury decided not to indict police officer Darren Wilson in the shooting death of Michael Brown. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
Thousands of people rallied — mostly peacefully — in other U.S. cities on Monday night, and President Barack Obama appealed for calm and understanding, pleading with both protesters and police to show restraint.
“We are a nation built on the rule of law, so we need to accept that this decision was the grand jury’s to make,” Obama said. He said it was understandable that some Americans would be angered, but echoed Brown’s parents in calling for peaceful protests.
About 10 St. Louis-bound flights were diverted or canceled Monday night because of concern about gunfire being aimed into the sky, a Lambert-St. Louis International Airport spokesman said, but the restrictions expired at 3:30 a.m.
The Justice Department is conducting a separate investigation into possible civil rights violations that could result in federal charges, but investigators would need to satisfy a rigorous standard of proof in order to mount a prosecution. The department also has launched a broad probe into the Ferguson Police Department, looking for patterns of discrimination.
Regardless of the outcome of those investigations, Brown’s family could also file a wrongful-death lawsuit against Wilson.
The August shooting heightened tensions in the predominantly black suburb that is patrolled by an overwhelmingly white police force. As Brown’s body lay for hours in the center of a residential street, an angry crowd of onlookers gathered. Rioting and looting occurred the following night, and police responded with armored vehicles and tear gas.
Protests continued for weeks — often peacefully, but sometimes turning violent, with demonstrators throwing rocks and Molotov cocktails and police firing smoke canisters, tear gas and rubber bullets. Nixon briefly summoned the National Guard.
Ron Johnson, the Missouri State Highway Patrol captain who oversaw Ferguson security during the summer protests, said the community must take some responsibility for the looting that took place Monday night. There were about 25 fires set overnight, and 10 cars burned at a dealership, Ferguson Assistant Fire Chief Steve Fair told local media. A pizza shop, beauty supply store and two auto parts stores were among those burned.
“Those are dreams,” Johnson said. “Those are small-business owners, and we’ve torn those dreams away.”
Link to grand jury documents: http://hosted.ap.org/specials/interactives/_documents/ferguson-shooting/.
Associated Press writers Alan Scher Zagier in Clayton, Andale Gross and Jim Suhr in Ferguson and Catherine Lucey in Des Moines, Iowa, contributed to this report. Follow David A. Lieb at: https://twitter.com/DavidALieb.