US clears officer in Ferguson case, criticizes police force
WASHINGTON - A Justice Department report says blacks in Ferguson, Missouri, are disproportionately subjected to excessive police force, baseless traffic stops, and citations for petty infractions -- like walking down the middle of the street.
The department today issued more than two dozen recommendations to improve the city's police department and court system. They include training officers to de-escalate confrontations. And the report also calls for better oversight of Ferguson's recruiting, hiring and promotion procedures.
Federal officials say city leaders in Ferguson are cooperative and open to change, and that there are already signs of improvement.
The investigation began weeks after the shooting death of unarmed black 18-year-old Michael Brown by Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson. The killing set off weeks of protests, and sparked a national dialogue about police use of force and their relations with minority communities.
As it released the recommendations today, the Justice Department also announced that it won't prosecute the former officer in the shooting death. Officials concluded that there's no evidence to disprove Wilson's testimony that he feared for his safety, and that there's no reliable evidence that Brown had his hands up when he was shot.