Michael Brown’s stepfather apologizes for comments
FERGUSON, Missouri (AP) — The stepfather of Michael Brown has apologized for angry comments he made after the grand jury decided not to indict the police officer who killed his unarmed 18-year-old stepson, but said his remarks had nothing to do with the arson and looting that ravaged Ferguson and the surrounding area.
Police said Tuesday they are investigating Louis Head’s comments as part of a broader inquiry into the arson, vandalism and looting that followed the announcement of the grand jury decision on Nov. 24. Brown’s death inflamed racial tensions in the Missouri city of Ferguson and fueled a debate over relations between law enforcement and black communities across the country.
Head said Wednesday in a statement that he was full of emotion when he yelled “Burn this bitch down!” in a crowd of protesters.
Head does not have a listed phone number, and there was no answer when an Associated Press reporter knocked at his listed address Wednesday. Attorneys for Brown’s family did not respond to several messages seeking comment.
Brown, who was black, was shot and killed by Ferguson officer Darren Wilson on Aug. 9. Wilson, who is white, told the grand jury he fired because his life was in danger, but some witnesses said Brown was trying to surrender.
Brown’s mother, Lesley McSpadden, was on top of a car on a Ferguson street in front of the police station, surrounded by protesters, when she heard the grand jury announcement. She began sobbing. Her husband jumped on top of the car and hugged her, then yelled out.
The street was already noisy and grew louder as Head hugged his wife. He yelled without a microphone or any amplification. Some people who were close by couldn’t hear what he said.
Still, video of the comments immediately spread on Twitter, YouTube and other social media.
“I was so angry and full of raw emotions, as so many others were, and granted, I screamed out words that I shouldn’t have screamed in the heat of the moment,” Head said.
But Head said to it’s unfair to place blame solely on him for the violence that transpired.
Remy Cross, a criminologist at Webster University in suburban St. Louis, said he would be surprised if Head is criminally charged, especially considering the emotional distress he was under at the time.
And Cross wondered why police would want to stir up emotions again, especially now that protests have died down to the point that police and the National Guard have scaled back their patrols. There have been no nighttime arrests at Ferguson protests since Friday.
Associated Press writers Alan Scher Zagier in Ferguson and Jim Suhr in St. Louis contributed to this report.