Brown family attorney blasts St. Louis paper for 'gossip and racist speculation'

Story highlights

  • Attorney Benjamin Crump says the newspaper has been biased in its quest for records
  • Crump says the St. Louis Post-Dispatch hasn't dug into Officer Darren Wilson's past
  • But it has chased Michael Brown's juvenile records, he says
  • He accuses the newspaper of pursuing "gossip and racist speculation"
The attorney for the family of slain Ferguson, Missouri, teenager Michael Brown is coming down hard a local newspaper, accusing the St. Louis Post-Dispatch of reporting "gossip and racist speculation" instead of news surrounding the 18-year-old's death.
Attorney Benjamin Crump is upset about the newspaper's pursuit of juvenile records on Brown, accusing its reporters of failing to apply the same zeal to obtaining background information on the police officer who killed Brown, Darren Wilson.
"In this new age, where there is a war being waged for clicks and eyeballs, it appears the Post-Dispatch has chosen to forgo its duty to report facts and provide meaningful context and has instead opted to pursue gossip and racist speculation," Crump said in an open letter to the newspaper's editor. "This is deeply disappointing."
Telephone messages and emails from CNN to the newspaper's public relations office and editor were not immediately returned Friday afternoon.
Brown died on August 9 in an encounter with Wilson that set off days of sometimes violent protests in the St. Louis suburb. The Brown family believes the teenager was unfairly killed. Wilson has not publicly given a statement, but police have said the two struggled over the officer's gun.
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Race has been at the heart of the case. Brown was black, like two-thirds of his neighbors in Ferguson. Wilson is white, like most of the city's police department.
Crump's letter follows a decision Tuesday by a St. Louis County Family Court judge to deny the newspaper's request to obtain any juvenile court records related to Brown.
Judge Ellen Levy Siwak did not explain her decision, the newspaper reported.
A juvenile court official later told reporters that Brown had never been found delinquent on juvenile charges that would equate to the state's most serious felonies and was not facing any such charges at the time of his death.
That revelation, the Post-Dispatch said Tuesday, "put to rest claims by a California-based blog and others that Brown was facing a murder charge at the time he was shot to death."
However, Crump said the newspaper continued to press the case despite statements by police and in court that Brown was facing no charges.
After Brown's death, police controversially issued documents alleging that he was a suspect in the theft of cigars from a convenience store shortly before he died, but he was not charged in that incident.
Meanwhile, Crump said, the Post-Dispatch "hasn't offered us a single new fact on Darren Wilson's behavior as a police officer."
"Where is the petition for his employment records? Why stop there? Where are the lawsuits in pursuit of his employment records, police reports, memos and e-mails for the city and county police?" Crump wrote.