Ferguson grand jury documents contain inconsistencies, fabrications and provably wrong claims
FERGUSON, Mo. (AP) — Some witnesses said Michael Brown had been shot in the back. Another said he was lying face-down when Officer Darren Wilson finished him off. Still others acknowledged changing their stories to fit published details about the autopsy, or admitted that they didn't see the shooting at all.
An Associated Press review of thousands of pages of grand jury documents reveals numerous examples of statements made during the shooting investigation that were inconsistent, fabricated or provably wrong. For one, the autopsies ultimately showed Brown wasn't struck by any bullets in his back.
Prosecutors exposed these inconsistencies before the jurors, which likely influenced their decision not to indict Wilson in Brown's death.
Bob McCulloch, the St. Louis County prosecutor, said the grand jury had to weigh testimony that conflicted with physical evidence and conflicting statements by witnesses as it decided whether Wilson should face charges.
"Many witnesses to the shooting of Michael Brown made statements inconsistent with other statements they made and also conflicting with the physical evidence. Some were completely refuted by the physical evidence," McCulloch said.
Ferguson begins cleanup after 2 nights of unrest, hopes for continued calm, return to normal
FERGUSON, Mo. (AP) — Business owners and residents boarded up windows and cleared away debris Wednesday as Ferguson sought a tentative return to normal after two nights of unrest over the grand jury decision in the Michael Brown case.
Protesters continued to hold scattered demonstrations, including a group that rushed into St. Louis City Hall screaming "Shame, shame." Police locked down the building and called in more than a hundred extra officers. Three people were arrested.
About 200 demonstrators marched through downtown St. Louis and held a mock trial of Darren Wilson, the white police officer who shot and killed the unarmed Brown, who was black, during an Aug. 9 struggle.
Meanwhile in Ferguson, many residents hoped that the relative calm of the daylight hours would last through the night and into the Thanksgiving holiday.
About a dozen people painted over boarded-up windows on businesses in the St. Louis suburb's historic downtown, where National Guardsmen were stationed every few feet and some looked down from rooftops.
Obama defends his legal authority — to take executive action to pardon Thanksgiving turkeys
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama has issued an executive action that some of his Republican opponents may be hard-pressed to disagree with — sparing Thanksgiving turkeys from the dinner table.
In the spirit of the holiday, Obama on Wednesday took "action fully within my legal authority, the same kind of action taken by Democrats and Republican presidents before me," to pardon the National Thanksgiving Turkey, a 49-pound bird named Cheese. He also spared an alternate turkey, a 47-pounder named Mac. Both came from Cooper Farms in Oakwood, Ohio.
"If you're a turkey, and you're named after a side dish, your chances of escaping Thanksgiving dinner are pretty low," Obama said at the annual event, which drew international media coverage. He was accompanied by his daughters, Malia and Sasha, who declined his invitation to pet the birds. "No," Malia said.
The ceremony was moved indoors because of cold, wet weather that blanketed Washington.
"So these guys are well ahead of the curve. They really beat the odds," he said of Mac and Cheese.
Snow and rain ground flights, make Thanksgiving driving 'a little hairy' in the Northeast
MINEOLA, N.Y. (AP) — A sloppy mix of rain and snow rolled into the Northeast on Wednesday just as millions of Americans began the big Thanksgiving getaway, grounding hundreds of flights and turning highways hazardous along the congested Washington-to-Boston corridor.
By early evening, more than 700 flights had been canceled, the bulk of them in the Northeast, during what is typically one of the busiest travel periods of the year. Thousands of flight delays were also expected as the snow from the nor'easter piled up.
Some travelers tried to change their plans and catch earlier flights to beat the storm, and major airlines waived their re-booking fees. But most planes were already filled.
Numerous traffic accidents were reported across the Northeast, where by midafternoon the line between rain and snow ran roughly along Interstate 95, the chief route between Washington and Boston.
Schools and businesses also closed in some areas, and state government offices let workers go home early.
Ferguson case, moment by moment: A morning shaped by chance and choices set a path to tragedy
The two friends' morning intersected by chance in the parking lot of the Canfield Green apartment complex. Dorian Johnson had been up since 7 a.m. on this overcast August Saturday and after getting dressed, he was ready for a smoke — on any other morning a carefree ritual for easing into his day's routine in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson.
Heading out in search of a cigarillo to roll some marijuana, Johnson spotted 18-year-old Michael Brown on the walkway threading the cluster of three-story brick buildings. "Big Mike" had just finished helping a woman get her children into a car. Now the two men, who'd met just a few months earlier, fell into easy conversation.
"When I told him I was going to get cigarillos, he was like 'I need one, too. Let's walk to the store,'" Johnson recalled. It was the most mundane of decisions, of seemingly little consequence. But in that moment, Brown set off down a path that by a few minutes past noon would lead to his death in a burst of police gunfire, and a conflagration that upended his community and challenged many Americans' conceptions of justice.
More than three months later, the world knows all about Ferguson, about the weeks of protests and rioting that followed the brief, but explosive encounter between a white police officer, Darren Wilson, and the black 18-year-old, and the deep veins of mistrust it exposed. But with a grand jury's decision this week not to indict Wilson for Brown's killing, prosecutors released thousands of pages of testimony, interviews and documents that shine new and often harsh light on the events that unfolded in this suburb's darkest hours.
There are still parts of the story the public may never fully understand. Key facts about who did what remain clouded in conflicting narratives that nevertheless highlight a cascading series of poor choices. But the new information, taken together with what we already know, reveals lives and actions whose seeming ordinariness contrasts jarringly with the tragedy and turmoil unleashed when, by chance, they intertwined.
Supreme Court Justice Ginsburg, 81, has heart stent inserted, reviving talk of retirement
WASHINGTON (AP) — Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg had a heart stent implanted on Wednesday, reviving talk about how long the 81-year-old liberal jurist will be staying on the court.
Ginsburg was expected back at work on Monday, but her hospitalization — just three weeks after elections handed Republicans control of the Senate — raised anew the question whether President Barack Obama would be able to appoint a like-minded replacement.
The situation "sends many, particularly on the left of the political spectrum, into a tizzy," said Jonathan Turley, a professor at George Washington University Law School.
Ginsburg's procedure came after a blockage was discovered in her right coronary artery, said court spokeswoman Kathy Arberg. The justice was taken to the hospital by ambulance at about 10 p.m. Tuesday after she "experienced discomfort" during routine exercise at the court with her personal trainer, Arberg said. The justice was expected to leave the hospital within 48 hours.
"She expects to be on the bench on Monday" when the court next hears oral arguments, Arberg said.
There's no free lunch — or breakfast or dinner — for Obama on Thanksgiving or any other day
WASHINGTON (AP) — There's no free lunch — or breakfast or dinner — for President Barack Obama on Thanksgiving Day. Or any other day for that matter.
He has to dig into his pocket to pay for his holiday feast of turkey, ham, two kinds of stuffing, sweet and regular potatoes, and six different kinds of pie. It's a longstanding practice that a president pays for meals for himself, his family and personal guests.
Obama also pays for other basics — everything from toothpaste to dry cleaning.
WHY IS THAT?
To help quell riots, Israeli police deploy sophisticated spy balloons over Jerusalem
JERUSALEM (AP) — Israeli police are watching from above in their attempts to keep control in Jerusalem in the face of the city's worst wave of violence in nearly a decade.
Police have been flying surveillance balloons over the city's eastern sector and Old City — the location of its most sensitive holy sites — to monitor protests and move in on them quickly. They say the puffy white balloons, which carry a rotating spherical camera pod, have greatly helped quell the unrest. But the eyes in the sky are unnerving Palestinians.
"They want to discover everything that's going on. (They see) who is going, who is coming, who is that person," said Imad Muna, who works at a local bookstore.
The Israeli company that makes the Skystar 180 aerostat system says the balloons can stay in the air for 72 hours and carry highly sensitive cameras.
Rami Shmueli, the CEO of RT LTA Systems Ltd, said his company gives police a "third dimension" in their quest to quell tensions in east Jerusalem, where they have been clashing regularly with masked youths hurling rocks and firebombs.
Thanksgiving travelers thankful for cheaper gas, some scramble to beat a path around storms
Some holiday travelers are giving thanks for the cheapest gas prices in years. But that's cold comfort to those beating a path through stormy weather, including a nor'easter affecting a wide swath of the East Coast.
Alas, the yearly Thanksgiving trek, be it across the country or across town, may be a mixed bag of the usual travel headaches with a little extra pocket money as a consolation prize. A snapshot of what it's like out there:
IT'S ALL ABOUT AUNT BO
No nor'easter was going to keep the Beardslees from making the 600-mile pilgrimage from home in Charlotte, North Carolina, to a family gathering in Chatham, New Jersey — especially given that Bill Beardslee's 94-year-old great-aunt Bo was going to be there.
Our plans to serve a farm-fresh turkey are foiled when she makes a great escape
PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Two Sundays before Thanksgiving, my farming partner and I brought a live turkey in a burlap sack to our urban farm on the outskirts of Portland. The lanky brown-feathered bird quietly took her place in our chicken coop.
The turkey was intended to become Thanksgiving dinner, but she had other plans.
It was unusually cold, and in our haste we forgot to clip the turkey's feathers. So one day last week, Turkey escaped the coop and flew above our suburban street to the top of a tree in the neighbor's backyard. Our attempts to shoo her from the branches could not convince Turkey to come down.
My partner and I have raised chickens, goats, and ducks in Portland for the past five years. We keep animals because we love interacting with them, eggs and milk being added benefits. Occasionally we've made chicken soup out of a rooster, but we rarely eat our flock.
Still, I'd much rather eat a happy turkey that lived its life out on a small farm than a frozen industrial turkey deprived of space and sunlight.