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DOJ Orders Second Autopsy Of Teen Shot By Ferguson Police

Update at 3:30 p.m. ET

The Justice Department has ordered a second autopsy of Michael Brown, the black teen who was fatally shot by police last week in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson, sparking off a week of angry and frequently violent protests.

Justice, which is leading an independent investigation into the shooting of the unarmed black teen, issued a statement saying that due to "the extraordinary circumstances involved in the case" Attorney General Eric Holder had arranged for a second autopsy on the victim to be performed by a federal medical examiner.

"This independent examination will take place as soon as possible," the DOJ said. "Even after it is complete, Justice Department officials still plan to take the state-performed autopsy into account in the course of their investigation."

The announcement followed another night of confrontations between protesters and law enforcement in Ferguson, Mo., when some people defied a state-imposed midnight to 5 a.m. curfew.

One person was also shot and critically wounded in the mayhem, and a suspect was being sought, Missouri State Highway Patrol Capt. Ron Johnson said. In an early morning news conference, he said a total of seven people had been arrested overnight, all for "failure to disperse."

St. Louis Public Radio's Stephanie Lecci says: "The violence erupted after another night of peaceful protests that turned, once [the] curfew was broken."

Many people, she reports, resented the curfew, ordered Saturday by Gov. Jay Nixon after Friday night's violence and looting, but most protesters did leave before it went into effect.

However, "a group of about 50 people made clear they weren't moving — despite the pleas of organizers. By 1 a.m., the scene had turned violent," Lecci reports.

Some of them chanted: "No justice! No curfew!"

Police confronted the protesters, who gathered in the same neighborhood where Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson shot and killed 18-year-old Michael Brown on Aug. 9. Authorities ordered the crowd to disperse, and when they refused, the police fired smoke and tear gas.

Police said the protesters tossed at least one bottle rocket. The Associated Press, quoting Johnson, said authorities:

"Received a report that people broke into Red's Barbecue and some were on the roof — creating a potential danger for officers trying to disperse the protesters. Police were responding to that report — not the fact that protesters were still on the street after curfew, Johnson said.

"Things got worse when a man with a handgun went into the street as police were nearing the restaurant. He ran away, but there was plenty of violence."

The New York Times says the standoff between protesters and police began about 12:30 a.m. CT and ended about 45 minutes later.

But hundreds of protesters, such as Orie Hood of St. Louis, said they'd heed the warning to get off the streets.

"I'm going to obey the curfew," Hood told NPR's Cheryl Corley. "I can't fight them. I don't have any bullets. I don't have any guns. I don't want to get shot. I have something to live for. But at the same time, I want to be heard."

Nixon, appearing on CNN today, said the local community had asked for the curfew.

"When we saw that second night" of looting and violence, "we knew we had to protect people's property," the governor said.

He said he was pleased that in the first night of the curfew "not a single shot was fired by law enforcement."

Asked how long the curfew would go on, he said there would be a meeting with leaders today, but "that will be judged by the people."

Later, appearing on ABC's This Week, Nixon said he was unaware that the Ferguson police department planned to release a surveillance video showing Brown purportedly robbing a convenience store, which reportedly took place minutes before the fatal shooting.

"We were unaware they were going to release it," he said. "We certainly were not happy with that being released, especially in the way that it was.

"It made emotions raw," he said.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Scott Neuman is a reporter and editor, working mainly on breaking news for NPR's digital and radio platforms.

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