White House sending 3 officials to Michael Brown’s funeral
(CNN) — The White House is sending three officials to Michael Brown’s funeral Monday, including one who attended high school with his mother.
Brown,18, was fatally shot on August 9 by officer Darren Wilson while walking down the streets of Ferguson, Missouri.
His death sparked days of violent protests in the St. Louis suburb. In the past three days, things have calmed down, and the town is slowly coming back to life.
The officials attending the funeral are Broderick Johnson, who leads the White House’s My Brother’s Keeper Task Force. He’ll be joined by Marlon Marshall, a St. Louis native who attended high school with Brown’s mother, and Heather Foster. Both Marshall and Foster are part of the White House Office of Public Engagement.
Brown will be eulogized at the Friendly Temple Missionary Baptist Church in St. Louis.
Two weeks after the shooting sparked violent protests, the mood turned more tranquil Saturday with smaller crowds and lots of music. Gone were police in riot gear glaring at defiant protesters. The tear gas, rubber bullets and Molotov cocktails were nowhere to be seen, either.
In their place were clusters of officers, hanging around businesses, chatting with one another.
Race has been at the forefront of the tensions; Brown was African-American and the officer who shot him is white.
St. Louis authorities released details of the racial and gender makeup of the grand jury, which started hearing testimony on Wednesday.
It comprises six white men, three white women, two black women and one black man, said Paul Fox, the administrator for the St. Louis County Circuit Court.
St. Louis County is 70% white and 24% black, according to last year’s estimate by the U.S. Census Bureau.
Crucial grand jury
Unlike a jury in a criminal case, which convicts someone if jurors are convinced of guilt “beyond a reasonable doubt,” a grand jury decides whether there is “probable cause.” They decide whether to charge someone with a crime based on testimony and evidence presented in the absence of a judge.
In Missouri, they don’t have to be in unanimous agreement to press such an indictment, as long as nine of the 12 agree on a charge.
The federal government is conducting a separate investigation.
FBI agents interviewed more than 200 people as part of the U.S. Justice Department’s civil rights investigation, according to law enforcement sources.
The federal probe must prove there was an element of “racial hostility” in the shooting. That’s a higher standard than the one before the St. Louis County grand jury.
The 12 members of the grand jury are crucial. They may be the first to reach a decision on whether the case will be defined as a murder charge, a lesser charge or no charge at all.