ST. LOUIS (AP) – The Missouri police chief whose officer fatally shot an unarmed 18-year-old last month released a video Thursday apologizing to the family and the community, saying Michael Brown’s body remained on the street for too long after he was killed.
The video featuring Ferguson Police Chief Tom Jackson was released by a public relations agency on the same day Brown’s parents were in Washington pressing for criminal charges to be filed against the officer, who has been on leave since the Aug. 9 shooting. A grand jury is investigating, but a decision isn’t expected for several weeks.
“I’m truly sorry for the loss of your son,” Jackson, dressed casually in a red polo shirt instead of his police uniform, said on the video. “I’m also sorry that it took so long to remove Michael from the street.”
Brown’s parents declined comment when told about Jackson’s video during a news conference with civil rights leaders at the National Press Club. Their attorney, Benjamin Crump, said later that they hadn’t heard about the video but would review it.
Brown, who was Black, was unarmed when he was fatally shot during a confrontation with Officer Darren Wilson, who is white, and his body remained in the street for more than four hours. At the time, police said they needed the time to gather evidence from the street, Canfield Drive, which is lined with apartment buildings.
“But it was just too long and I’m truly sorry for that,” Jackson said. “Please know that the investigating officers meant no disrespect to the Brown family, to the African-American community or the people of Canfield (Drive). They were simply trying to do their jobs.”
The shooting sparked racial unrest and numerous protests in Ferguson, including some that turned violent and involved looting. Some residents and civil rights activists have said officers responding to the protests were overly aggressive, including the use of tear gas and military-style vehicles and gear. The responding officers included Ferguson police and St. Louis County police.
In the video, Jackson apologized to peaceful protesters who felt their rights were violated. He also acknowledged that “pain and mistrust” existed between the African-American community and police.
“It is clear that we have much work to do,” Jackson said.
The U.S. Department of Justice is looking into possible civil rights violations. On Wednesday, investigators with the agency’s Civil Rights Division hosted a meeting in Ferguson to allow residents to express concerns about police. About 300 people attended the meeting, including many who met individually with investigators. Many said afterward that they shared stories of police brutality and harassment.
Associated Press reporter Jesse Holland contributed to this report from Washington.