Expect many, many lawsuits from Ferguson

“It seems like new problems and new situations are arising every day, and we don’t know what they’re all going to be, yet, I don’t think,” he said on Sunday afternoon. Less than 12 hours later, Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon called up the National Guard — adding another element to the picture of what’s happening to the town in St. Louis County. On Monday afternoon, President Obama said he had spoken with Nixon earlier in the day and announced that Attorney General Eric Holder would be going to Ferguson on Wednesday.

With concurrent local and federal investigations into the death of Brown, there could be state and/or federal criminal charges filed in the case against Darren Wilson, the Ferguson police officer identified by the police as the shooter. The federal civil rights investigation could lead to charges against others, as well. In additional to criminal matters, Brown’s family has retained the services of civil rights lawyer Ben Crump, the Florida lawyer who has represented Trayvon Martin’s family. “When you’re hearing the family has hired an independent coroner to conduct an autopsy, you know you’re looking at a wrongful death lawsuit,” Arnwine said. “They clearly are thinking about the intentional infliction of emotional distress. You had a body in the street for four hours — where in the world is that accepted police practice? Find me one manual, one training book that says that that’s allowed,” she noted, adding that police statements about Brown could be a part of any lawsuits by the family.”

A step removed from the shooting itself is the access to records relating to the shooting. “We’ve already filed some lawsuits about access to public records,” Rothert said, noting litigation the ACLU has brought on behalf of journalists in the state. “There are a number of issues regarding transparency that are out there that could lead to litigation.” Specifically, Arnwine pointed to the failure of the Ferguson Police Department thus far to release relevant public records — especially the incident report.

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