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Prosecutor will release audio of Michael Brown grand jury if Ferguson officer isn't indicted

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ST. LOUIS — A prosecutor says he'll immediately release transcripts and audio recordings of a grand jury investigation into the death of Michael Brown if the panel doesn't indict the suburban St. Louis police officer who shot him.

Spokesman Ed Magee on Wednesday said St. Louis County prosecutor Bob McCulloch has ordered that the proceedings be transcribed and audio-recorded, an unusual step for grand juries in Missouri. The story was first reported by St. Louis Public Radio.

Magee said the decision was spurred by the high-profile nature of the case.

"We just want to be more open," he said.

Brown was shot by Ferguson, Missouri, police officer Darren Wilson on Aug. 9. Police said the shooting happened after a scuffle inside Wilson's squad car spilled out into the street. The shooting of the unarmed, black 18-year-old by Wilson, who is white, spurred massive protests and several days of unrest.

If Wilson is indicted, the testimony and recordings will become potential evidence for trial and will not be released. McCulloch has said the grand jury investigation is expected to last into mid-October.

PHOTO: Protesters chant at a meeting of the St. Louis County Council on Tuesday, Sept. 16, 2014, in Clayton, Mo. Protesters, seeking the immediate arrest of Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson who fatally shot unarmed 18-year-old Michael Brown, disrupted a government meeting Tuesday, renewing calls to remove the county prosecutor investigating the case. (AP Photo/St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Robert Cohen)
Protesters chant at a meeting of the St. Louis County Council on Tuesday, Sept. 16, 2014, in Clayton, Mo. Protesters, seeking the immediate arrest of Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson who fatally shot unarmed 18-year-old Michael Brown, disrupted a government meeting Tuesday, renewing calls to remove the county prosecutor investigating the case. (AP Photo/St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Robert Cohen)

Magee said Wilson has been offered the chance to testify before the grand jury, "and it will be up to him whether he testifies or not."

Critics have questioned whether McCulloch should be removed from the case given his family history. McCulloch's father was a St. Louis police officer killed in the line of duty by a black assailant in the 1960s. McCulloch declined to step aside, and Gov. Jay Nixon declined to appoint a special prosecutor.

Others have questioned McCulloch's decision to present evidence and let the grand jury decide on charges, rather than make a recommendation. Dana Milbank wrote a column in the Washington Post claiming the decision was proof of a "fix" to clear Wilson of any wrongdoing.

"He's completely wrong," Magee said of the assertion. Magee said his office is preparing a response to Milbank's column. He wasn't sure when the response would be made public.

In addition to the grand jury investigation into whether use of lethal force was justified, the Justice Department is investigating to determine if there were any civil rights violations. Wilson is on paid administrative leave pending the investigations. His whereabouts, and the name of his attorney, have not been disclosed.

On Wednesday, the city of Ferguson announced the schedule for a series of town hall meetings on topics such as racial diversity, growth and civic engagement. The first three neighborhood meetings on Monday will cover what the city called "misperceptions about the city of Ferguson."


Associated Press reporter Alan Scher Zagier contributed to this report.

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