Forensic evidence shows Michael Brown's blood on the gun, uniform and inside the car of Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson, law enforcement officials said, information they believe potentially corroborates the officer's account that the unarmed 18-year-old tried to take his gun.
The evidence will make it harder for the Justice Department to prosecute Wilson on federal charges that he violated Brown's civil rights, said the officials, who asked their names be withheld because of the sensitivity of the case. Such evidence also would make it difficult for a county grand jury to indict Wilson on state charges, such as murder or manslaughter, said county sources who are prohibited from talking about the pending case.
The St. Louis County police, the FBI and a county grand jury are investigating the shooting.
The Justice Department is investigating policing practices in Ferguson and St. Louis County.
Wilson, who is white, fatally shot Brown, who is African-American, on Aug. 9 in Ferguson, Missouri. The New York Times first reported the forensic evidence Friday.
Officials told The Washington Post yesterday that the forensic evidence supports Wilson's account that a scuffle occurred at the police vehicle, that Wilson feared for his life and that Brown went for, or lunged for, his gun. There were two shots fired in the vehicle, including one that hit Brown's arm, an official said.
Wilson's attorney, James Towey Jr., did not return a call seeking comment yesterday.
Benjamin Crump, an attorney for Brown's family, also could not be reached for comment. He told The New York Times that Wilson's word isn't "gospel."
It has never been in question that there was an altercation.
St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar had said Brown "allegedly pushed" Wilson into the car after Wilson tried to open the door. Brown, police said, then "physically assaulted" Wilson, and went for the gun. Wilson fired inside the vehicle, police said. Wilson then got out and killed Brown, Belmar said.
But Dorian Johnson, 22, who was with Brown, gave another version: After ordering both men onto the sidewalk, Wilson opened the car door so forcefully that it bounced against the two men. Wilson, still in the car, grabbed Brown by his collar. Brown was trying to free himself and never tried to get the gun. Wilson drew his gun and threatened to shoot, then it went off.