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No ‘excuse for violence’ in Ferguson, Obama says

Protestors defy policePresident Barrack Obama joined the call for calm with word a Missouri grand jury considering whether to indict Officer Darren Wilson in the death of Michael Brown was close to making a decision.

“This is a country that allows everybody to express their views. Allows them to peacefully assemble, to protest actions that they think are unjust,” the President told ABC News in an interview excerpt broadcast on Friday.

“But using any event as an excuse for violence is contrary to rule of law and contrary to who we are.”

The President’s comments came as the grand jury considers whether to bring charges against Wilson, who is in the final stages of negotiations with Ferguson city officials to resign, sources close to the talks told CNN.

Wilson has maintained he’s done nothing wrong, and the resignation talks have hinged on whether he is indicted, the sources said. While Wilson has told associates he would resign to help ease pressure and protect his fellow officers, he has expressed concern about resigning while the grand jury was still hearing evidence for fear it would appear he was admitting fault.

The talks could still collapse, the sources close to the talks said. Wilson doesn’t know what the grand jury will do and, if they opt to charge him, he could change his mind. Wilson, who has six years on the force with no disciplinary issues on his record, is currently on paid administrative leave. If he returns to duty, he will have to undergo two psychological evaluations, authorities have said.

What is known, what is not

The basic facts of the case — Wilson, a white police officer, fatally shot Brown, a black 18-year-old who was unarmed, on August 9 — are not in dispute. Most everything else about the case is, leading to emotionally and racially charged divisions about what should happen next.

The officer’s supporters have claimed Wilson fired only in self-defense, pointing to witness testimony and leaked grand jury documents that suggest Brown might have attacked Wilson, struggled for his gun and perhaps charged the officer moments later.

Brown’s backers have been likewise adamant in blaming Wilson, claiming the officer shot a young man who, according to some accounts, was holding up his hands in surrender.

This dispute as to what happened at that crucial moment, the handing of the investigation from the outset and the fact that charges were not brought against Wilson sparked days of protests on the streets of Ferguson. The ensuing police response, which many have called heavy-handed, and the violence, property damage and looting of some during the protests only deepened the sense of mistrust.

Police: 3 more arrested in Ferguson

Once the grand jury decision is made, prosecutors are expected to provide law enforcement with 48 hours notice before making a public announcement.

The current plans could still change and prosecutors could shift the planned grand jury session.

Meanwhile, authorities are on guard for a repeat of large-scale demonstrations and possibly violence — as happened in the days after the shooting, when heavily armed police came face to face with angry protesters.

 

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