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Missouri National Guard arrives in Ferguson to quell unrest

August 18, 2014 at 6:02 PM EST
The Missouri National Guard arrived in Ferguson on the orders of Gov. Jay Nixon a night after police again used tear gas and rubber bullets to break up a crowd that was reportedly throwing Molotov cocktails and shooting at police. Nixon also lifted a two-day curfew. A private autopsy of slain teenager Michael Brown concluded he had been shot six times. Judy Woodruff reports.
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JUDY WOODRUFF: The violence plaguing Ferguson, Missouri, sparked new initiatives today. The governor deployed the National Guard, and President Obama announced he’s sending in Attorney General Eric Holder.

It’s all aimed at restoring calm after the shooting of an unarmed black teenager by a white policeman. The decision to call out the National Guard was the latest effort to quell the violence in Ferguson.

Last night, police again used tear gas and rubber bullets to break up a crowd after reports of gunfire, firebombs and looting.

Highway Patrol Captain Ron Johnson:

RON JOHNSON, Captain, Missouri State Highway Patrol: There were multiple additional reports of Molotov cocktails being thrown. Police were shot at. Makeshift barricades were set up to block police. Bottles and rockets were thrown at police. Based on these conditions, I had no alternative to elevate the level of our response.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Hours later, in his statement deploying the Guard, Missouri Governor Jay Nixon condemned the unrest, saying: “These violent acts are a disservice to the family of Michael Brown and his memory and to the people of this community.”

This afternoon, as Guard members arrived, Governor Nixon announced their role will be limited. He also lifted the two-day-old curfew.

Meanwhile, attorneys for Michael Brown’s family released the results of a privately conducted autopsy.

BENJAMIN CRUMP, Lawyer for victim’s family: They didn’t want to be left having to rely on the autopsy done by the Saint Louis law enforcement agencies, the same individuals they feel are responsible for executing their son in broad daylight.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Former New York City Chief Medical Examiner Michael Baden and forensic pathologist Shawn Parcells found the 18-year-old was shot six times.

SHAWN PARCELLS, Forensic Pathologist: We have got one to the very top of the head, the apex. We have got one that entered just above the right eyebrow. We have got one that entered the top part of the right arm. We have got a graze wound, a superficial graze wound, to the middle part of the right arm. We have got a wound that entered the medial aspect of the right arm, and we have got a deep graze wound that produced a laceration to the palm of the right hand.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Police officer Darren Wilson fired those shots during a confrontation on August 9. Parcells could not say with certainty if the wounds indicated Brown was facing Wilson or if he had his hands raised, as witnesses have said, but he did say this:

SHAWN PARCELLS: Dr. Baden and I do feel, because of the two gunshot wounds to the head, indicating that Mr. Brown was bending over as they were coming down, that those two shots were most likely the last two to occur to him.

JUDY WOODRUFF: The autopsy also found no gunshot residue, indicating the gun was fired from more than two feet away. Police have said Brown initially struggled with officer Wilson in his police car. Later, local officials released partial results of the initial autopsy. It, too, found Brown was shot six to eight times, all this as U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder met with President Obama at the White House this afternoon to discuss the situation in Ferguson.

Later, the president spoke in the White House Briefing Room.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: The attorney general himself will be traveling to Ferguson on Wednesday to meet with the FBI agents and DOJ personnel conducting the federal criminal investigation and he will receive an update from them on their progress. He will also be meeting with other leaders in the community whose support is so critical to bringing about peace and calm in Ferguson.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Holder has ordered a third federally supervised autopsy as part of a civil rights investigation.

We will return to Ferguson to hear what community leaders are saying about the situation right after the news summary.