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Updated: Sun, 17 Aug 2014 16:27:51 GMT | By The Associated Press, cbc.ca

Michael Brown federal autopsy ordered after more violence in Missouri



Tensions remain high in Ferguson, Missouri after police fired tear gas during a sixth straight night early Sunday (© Aug. 16, 2014)

Tensions remain high in Ferguson, Missouri after police fired tear gas during a sixth straight night early Sunday (Aug. 16, 2014) of protests against the fatal shooting by police of Michael Brown, a black, unarmed teenager. Facebook

The U.S. Justice Department will arrange a second autopsy of Michael Brown, the teen from Ferguson, Mo., who was shot and killed by police last week.

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder asked federal authorities Sunday to have a federal medical examiner do the autopsy as soon as possible because of "extraordinary circumstances involved in this case and at the request of the Brown family," department spokesman Brian Fallon said.

"This independent examination will take place as soon as possible," Fallon said in a statement. "Even after it is complete, Justice Department officials still plan to take the state-performed autopsy into account in the course of their investigation."

The St. Louis County Medical Examiner's office performed a preliminary autopsy on Aug. 10, but Brown's family asked the U.S. Department of Justice this week to oversee a second autopsy.

The family's lawyer, Ben Crump, told The Associated Press Thursday that a second autopsy overseen by the federal agency would better ensure objectivity.

He said funeral arrangements for the slain 18-year-old are on hold until a second autopsy can be performed.

David Weinstein, a former federal prosecutor who supervised the criminal civil rights section of Miami's U.S. Attorney's office, said a federally conducted autopsy "more closely focused on entry point of projectiles, defensive wounds and bruises" might help that investigation, and that the move is "not that unusual."​

Ferguson has been the scene of looting and street battles between police and protesters since Brown was shot by a white police officer while walking down a street of the St. Louis suburb on Aug. 9. The shooting fuelled racial tension in the mostly black community.

Seven people were arrested early Sunday morning as police used smoke and tear gas against protesters who defied a curfew.

Police deployed armoured vehicles in the streets just after the start of the overnight five-hour curfew. They used smoke and tear gas on protesters who refused to move back, essentially ending the confrontation nearly an hour after the midnight curfew. 

In one tense situation late Saturday, a man with a handgun went into the street as police were nearing a restaurant but soon ran from the scene. A man was shot and critically wounded in the same area. Police were searching for the shooter. Someone shot at a police car — it wasn't clear if it was hit.

Hundreds of other protesters left peacefully before the curfew took effect. But remaining protesters — chanting "No justice! No curfew!" — refused to leave the area.

As officers put on gas masks, a chant from the distant crowd emerged: "We have the right to assemble peacefully." A moment later, police began firing canisters into the crowd of protesters.

Highway Patrol Spokesman Lt. John Hotz initially said police only used smoke, but later told The Associated Press that they also fired tear gas canisters.

Jayson Ross, who was leading the protesters toward police before the canisters were fired, said: "They got guns. We got guns. We are ready."

Gov. Jay Nixon on Saturday declared a state of emergency in Ferguson.

The length of the curfew would be "judged by the community," Nixon said on CNN's State of the Union. He said Saturday's curfew helped maintain peace.

Curfew extended for 2nd night

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch newspaper, quoting Missouri Highway Patrol spokesman Al Nothum, says the curfew will be extended for a second night.

The initial curfew announcement came after tensions again flared in Ferguson late Friday night. Earlier that day, local police identified the officer who shot Brown as Darren Wilson and released documents and video footage alleging that Brown had robbed a convenience store just before he was shot. Police said Wilson was unaware Brown was a suspect when he encountered him walking in the street with a friend.

Nixon said the U.S. Department of Justice is widening its civil rights investigation of the shooting.

Missouri State Highway Patrol Capt. Ron Johnson, who is in charge of security in Ferguson, said 40 FBI agents were going door-to-door in the neighbourhood starting Saturday, talking to people who might have seen or have information about the shooting.

In announcing the curfew, Nixon said that though many protesters were making themselves heard peacefully, the state would not allow looters to endanger the community.

Darrell Alexander, 57, worried Saturday night that the curfew might spur anger and more violence.

"I think it's an antagonistic decision to not allow people to express their freedom of speech. It's an overreaction," he said.

On Saturday, some residents said it appeared the violent acts were being committed by people who came from other suburbs or states.

Wilson is a six-year police veteran who had no previous complaints against him, the local police chief has said.

The Ferguson Police Department has refused to say anything about Wilson's whereabouts, and Associated Press reporters were unable to contact him at any addresses or phone numbers listed under that name in the St. Louis area.

Wilson has been on paid administrative leave since the shooting. St. Louis County prosecutor Bob McCulloch said it could be weeks before the investigation wraps up.

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