NAACP: DOJ Involvement in Ferguson Case Is 'Incredibly Encouraging'

August 18, 2014 - 7:02 AM

APTOPIX Police Shooting Missouri

A law enforcement officer watches Sunday, Aug. 17, 2014, as tear gas is fired to disperse a crowd protesting the shooting of teenager Michael Brown last Saturday in Ferguson, Mo.  (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

(CNSNews.com) - Cornell William Brooks, the new president of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, says it's "incredibly encouraging" that the Justice Department will conduct its own autopsy on the body of Michael Brown, the unarmed  teenager shot and killed by a white police officer on Aug. 9 in Ferguson, Missouri.

"I think it's incredibly encouraging," Brooks told CBS' "Face the Nation" with Bob Schieffer. "At this point in our nation's racial history, and particularly in Ferguson, Missouri, we have people on the ground who want to know that there are people in the White House who are listening to them, because they don't trust local authorities."

Brooks said the people he's spoken to "are looking for a president and an attorney general who are responsive to what is happening on the ground. And the fact that you have an army of FBI agents, the fact that there's been ordering of this second autopsy, all of this will be met with appreciation by folks who are looking for accountability."

Attorney General Eric Holder on Sunday ordered a federal medical examiner to perform another autopsy on Brown. According to the New York Times, a preliminary private autopsy found that Brown was shot six times -- in the front -- and at least twice in the head, in circumstances that have not yet been fully explained.

Justice Department spokesman Brian Fallon said in a news release on Sunday that Holder had requested the additional autopsy because of the "extraordinary circumstances involved in this case" and at the request of Brown's family.

Fallon said the autopsy by a federal medical examiner will take place as soon as possible. He also said the Justice Department will take into account the state's autopsy.

"The attorney general has been very engaged. The president has been engaged," NAACP President Brooks told "Face the Nation." "I have received calls from the White House late at night, early in the morning. They want to see justice served here. I think it speaks well of the president and the attorney general that the Justice Department is on the ground."

Brooks said the NAACP "has been working with FBI agents" -- 40 of them -- in the effort to get statements from witnesses. "That says to me that the Justice Department is not operating from Washington, but in Ferguson, Missouri. That speaks well of the potential for this investigation to result in justice."

Brooks said problem in Ferguson stems from the heavy use of police force that left an unarmed teenager dead in the street, followigned by a police response with "armored vehicles, with with militarization, as opposed to explanation, conversation, community engagement..."

(The Associated Press contributed some of the information used in this report.)