(Reuters) - Michael Brown’s parents will file a wrongful death civil lawsuit against Ferguson, Missouri and the white police officer who shot dead the unarmed 18-year-old black man last August in the St. Louis suburb, a family attorney said on Thursday.
“There were other alternatives available to him. He did not have to kill Michael Brown,” attorney Daryl Parks said of Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson.
The announcement came a day after the U.S. Justice Department cleared Wilson of any civil rights violations in the shooting but said it found racial bias and a pattern of discriminatory and illegal actions against African-Americans by the Ferguson Police Department.
Attorney Anthony Gray said the lawsuit is being prepared now and will be filed soon.
“Wilson did not have to shoot and kill Mike Brown Jr. in broad daylight in the manner that he did,” Gray said. “The choice to use deadly force was unreasonable and unnecessary.”
A grand jury in Missouri decided in November not to bring criminal charges against Wilson in the shooting. Wilson has since left the police department.
The attorneys for Brown’s family said they did not accept Wilson’s claim of self defense, and said that the standard of proof in a civil lawsuit is different than in criminal prosecutions.
Brown’s killing touched off a national debate on race relations and triggered months of street protests over complaints across the country about police treatment of minorities.
The report released on Wednesday said police in Ferguson overwhelmingly arrested and issued citations to blacks as a way to boost city revenues through fines and court fees. The actions created a culture of distrust that exploded on Aug. 9 when Wilson killed Brown, the Justice Department said.
Brown and a friend were walking down a street through a residential neighborhood on a Saturday afternoon when Wilson encountered the pair and asked them to move out of the roadway.
Wilson told investigators he then heard a report of a robbery, identified Brown as a suspect and stopped his vehicle. Wilson and Brown had an angry and violent encounter, causing Wilson to fear for his life and leading him to shoot Brown multiple times, according to investigative reports.
A Ferguson city spokesman did not respond to a request for comment on the lawsuit. (Additional reporting by Mary Wisniewski in Chicago)