published Wednesday, August 20th, 2014

Grand jury hears evidence in Ferguson case as stun gun death cited in lawsuits

Police guard the entrance to the Buzz Westfall Justice Center in Clayton, Mo., on Aug. 20, 2014.
Police guard the entrance to the Buzz Westfall Justice Center in Clayton, Mo., on Aug. 20, 2014.
Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

CLAYTON, Mo. — A grand jury has begun hearing evidence as it weighs possible charges against the Ferguson police officer who fatally shot 18-year-old Michael Brown.

St. Louis County prosecutor's spokesman Ed Magee confirmed the panel heard evidence Wednesday but offered no other details. Officials have vowed not to release any information about the grand jury's proceedings in order to avoid compromising the case.

During the day, a small group of protesters gathered outside the suburban St. Louis building where the grand jury was meeting. About 20 police officers stood outside the building's front entrance, which was also blocked off by yellow police tape.

It could be weeks before the grand jury decides whether Officer Darren Wilson should stand trial for Brown's Aug. 9 death.


Stun gun death cited in Ferguson lawsuits

ST. LOUIS — The mother and wife of a man killed by a Ferguson officer in 2011 have filed separate lawsuits with new allegations against a police department already under criticism for the death of Michael Brown.

Jason Moore died of a heart attack on Sept. 17, 2011, after a Ferguson officer repeatedly used a stun gun on him, according to lawsuits filed separately Tuesday by Moore's mother, Delores Moore, and his wife, Tina Moore. Both lawsuits, which name the city and Ferguson leaders, along with the police department, the chief and two officers, seek damages of $75,000 or more.

The suits filed in federal court say Jason Moore, 31, was suffering from a psychological disorder. Police were called after he ran naked down the street, yelling "God is good," ''glory to God" and "I am Jesus" at passing vehicles.

Both lawsuits claim that a police officer used excessive force by repeatedly using a stun gun on Moore. A message left with the attorney for Ferguson was not returned. An attorney for Tina Moore declined comment. A message seeking comment from Delores Moore's attorney was not returned.

The lawsuit comes less than two weeks after Brown was shot to death by Ferguson officer Darren Wilson, raising concerns about police brutality in the St. Louis suburb.

A police report shows that the first officer responding to the 2011 incident advised Moore to put up his hands and walk toward the officer. That officer's report said the man came at him aggressively and refused commands to stop, swinging his fists.

The officer said he used a five-second burst from the stun gun on Moore, who went down but tried to get up. He said he deployed two additional five-second bursts when Moore refused orders to stay on the ground.

Moore became unresponsive as a second officer tried to speak with him. That officer began chest compressions until a medical crew arrived and took Moore to a hospital, where he died.

The lawsuit said the officer "used more force than a reasonable police officer at the scene would have used under the circumstances." It said that if the officers should have treated Moore like a mentally ill person, not like a criminal.

The suit by Tina Moore accused police of conspiring "to cover for and protect one another from criminal and/or civil sanctions ..."

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