|Dan Weisman |||Nov 24, 2014 03:45 PM EST|
(Photo : REUTERS/ADREES LATIF) Protesters, demanding the criminal indictment of a white police officer who shot dead an unarmed black teenager in August, shout slogans while marching through a suburb in St. Louis, Missouri November 23, 2014.
A 12-member St. Louis County grand jury has reached a decision in the Michael Brown shooting death by Ferguson, Missouri police officer Darren Wilson on Monday.
A tense Ferguson awaited release of the grand jury's decision that was expected to be announced by the St. Louis prosecutors office later in the afternoon or early evening.
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The grand jury examining the shooting by a white police officer of the African-American youth was composed of nine white and three African-American jurors. The decision had been expected this week, but rumors and innuendos had proliferated recently ratcheting up tensions in this controversial case.
The grand jury can charge Wilson with murder or manslaughter or decline to file charges at all. Wilson, 28, who got married last month to a fellow officer, 38-year-old Barbara Spradling, according to court records, testified earlier this month that the shooting was in self-defense.
Should no charges be filed, Wilson still could face federal charges and civil lawsuits over the Aug. 9 shooting of the unarmed 18-year-old in the predominantly black St. Louis suburb.
The announcement represented another potential hurdle for the tense town where protestors have marched and chanted for months demanding justice for the Brown while authorities tried to keep the peace.
"Law enforcement and the community has been preparing for this decision for a long time," said Daniel Isom, director of the Missouri Department of Public Safety.
"Law enforcement operations are all set," Isom said, "and, more importantly than that, there is so much dialogue that has gone on between law enforcement and all sectors of the community that we are prepared for any decision that comes down."
Schools were closed, stores boarded up and barricades in place as the tense community got ready to deal with reaction to the decision.
Lawyers for the Brown family say the teen was trying to give himself up when shot by Wilson. Supporters of the Ferguson police officer say Brown tried to take his gun and the officer feared for his life when he pulled the trigger.
Jay Nixon, the Missouri governor, declared a state of emergency in advance of the grand jury decision and called out the National Guard to assist in peacekeeping. Brown's parents and local political and religious leaders also have urged for calm whatever the jury's decision.
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