- Associated Press - Wednesday, August 19, 2015

ST. LOUIS (AP) - St. Louis County faces sharp criticism from several organizations over belatedly filing criminal cases against protesters arrested in Ferguson last year following the shooting death of 18-year-old Michael Brown.

The action is a “blatant violation” of constitutional rights and an “appalling misuse of our already overburdened court system,” said the American Civil Liberties Union in Tuesday statement released jointly with the St. Louis University Law Litigation Clinic and the lawyer group, ArchCity Defenders.

St. Louis County Counselor Peter Krane acknowledged his office reviewed approximately 100 reports documenting arrests in Ferguson between August and December 2014, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch (https://bit.ly/1NkwEqh ) reported. He expects the county will ultimately issue fewer than 100 warrants in connection with the Ferguson disruptions.

The unrest in Ferguson followed the Aug. 9, 2014, fatal shooting of Michael Brown by Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson, who has since resigned from the department. A grand jury has declined to indict Wilson in Brown’s death.

Krane defended the one-year delay, saying the staff review of the Ferguson files didn’t begin until after he was appointed chief legal counsel in January. His staff reviewed the reports of arresting officers along with video and evidence gathered from social media websites before deciding to issue citations.

“If the facts did not support a charge, a summons was not issued,” Krane said. “If the facts supported a charge, then a summons was issued.”

The ACLU and the other organizations maintain the county is pursuing charges in cases previously rejected by St. Louis County Prosecutor Robert McCulloch and municipal prosecutors in Ferguson and Dellwood.

“It is unclear why the St. Louis County Counselor has reached a different conclusion from other local prosecutors who have rightly decided not to pursue charges,” the statement said. “But, it is clear that many individuals will not receive notice of these delayed charges and will ultimately be issued arrest warrants.”

Krane disputed the advocates’ version of events.

“Any inference or suggestion that any other jurisdiction reviewed these charges or events that led to charging these people before we did is inaccurate,” he said. “These charges came to my office and my office only.”


Information from: St. Louis Post-Dispatch, https://www.stltoday.com

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