UK & World News

  • 21 August 2014, 6:17

Holder: I See Why People Don't Trust Police

The US Attorney General met the parents of an unarmed black teenager shot dead by police and pledged a thorough probe into the killing, during a visit to Ferguson, Missouri.

Amid continuing tensions in the town following a series of racially charged protests sparked by the shooting of Michael Brown, Eric Holder told community leaders he understands why black people do not trust police, 

He delivered a briefing on the Justice Department investigation into the killing and held a private meeting with the 18-year-old's parents.

President Barack Obama's administration hope the trip will demonstrate its commitment to civil rights in general and the Ferguson case in particular.

Mr Holder told community leaders at a St Louis Community College campus about how he was stopped twice on a New Jersey highway and accused of speeding.

He said police searched his car, going through the trunk and looking under the seats.

"I remember how humiliating that was and how angry I was and the impact it had on me," he said.

Meanwhile, a grand jury investigating the death began hearing evidence in the case, while protesters stepped up their demands that the local criminal inquiry be handed over to a special prosecutor.

Mr Holder said the thrust of his department's probe differed from the investigation conducted by local authorities.

"We are looking for violations of federal, criminal civil rights statutes," he said.

The Justice Department is seeking to establish whether federal prosecutors can bring criminal charges against Darren Wilson, the officer who shot Mr Brown, for violating the teenager's civil rights by use of excessive force.

Witnesses say Mr Brown was surrendering and had his hands raised when he was fatally shot.

Dozens of protesters were arrested hours earlier in the latest street disturbances.

Many of the demonstrations have been peaceful, although a small number have descended into looting, vandalism and clashes with police.