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Police officer in Ferguson shooting case cleared

The US Justice Department will not prosecute the police officer who shot unarmed black teenager Michael Brown last year. It also released a report criticizing the Ferguson police department for racial discrimination.

In a decision released Wednesday, the US Justice Department confirmed it would not charge former Ferguson, Missouri police officer Darren Wilson with federal civil rights violations for the August 9, 2014 shooting of teenager Michael Brown.

"Because Wilson did not act with the requisite criminal intent, it cannot be proven beyond reasonable doubt to a jury that he violated (Brown's civil rights) when he fired his weapon at Brown," it said, adding "for the reasons set forth above, this matter lacks prosecutive merit and should be closed." Such a decision had been expected as a federal civil rights prosecution requires a high legal standard.

The killing of the unarmed Brown, an 18-year-old black resident of Ferguson, by Wilson, a white police officer, sparked weeks of protests which at times escalated into rioting. The nationwide outrage centered on the use of force by law enforcement and the

state of race relations in the US.

A grand jury also cleared Wilson in November. The police officer

has since resigned.

Ferguson police criticized

Alongside the decision regarding Wilson, the US Justice Department on Wednesday also

released a scathing report

in which it criticized Ferguson's police department for patterns of racial bias and routine discrimination against African-Americans.

According to the Associated Press (AP) news agency, the report said blacks in Ferguson were disproportionately subject to excessive police force, baseless traffic stops and citations for petty infractions such as walking down the middle of the street.

The Justice Department issued a long list of recommendations to improve the police department and court system of Ferguson.

se/lw (AP, AFP, Reuters)

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