WASHINGTON -- Attorney General Eric Holder is upset at recent leaks from the ongoing state investigation into the Ferguson, Mo., police shooting of Michael Brown.
Holder on Wednesday told Justice Department lawyers, who are conducting a separate federal inquiry of the shooting and a probe of the Ferguson police department, that he is "exasperated" at the "selective flow of information coming out of Missouri," a Justice official said.
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch published accounts of testimony presented to a St. Louis County grand jury and the state's autopsy report showing Brown suffered a gunshot wound in a struggle inside the officer's squad car.
The information appears to bolster at least part of the account of Officer Darren Wilson, who has told investigators he fatally shot Brown because he feared for his life.
Holder called the leaks "inappropriate and troubling" because the federal investigation is still ongoing and the grand jury is still convening to hear evidence, the Justice official said. Holder said he is highly suspect of local authorities, the Justice official said, because the autopsy and grand jury testimony leaks are similar to the decision by local police to release surveillance video showing Brown stealing cigars from a convenience store just before the deadly police confrontation.
Holder, at the time, denounced the release of the video as intended to skew perception of the case.
Ferguson is the scene of regular protests, and demonstrators demand an indictment of Wilson. Local authorities are concerned that if the Grand Jury doesn't return an indictment there could be a repeat of street disturbances, as happened in August after the shooting.
In part to avoid such a public reaction, St. Louis County prosecutors have asked the Justice Department to announce the results of the federal probe at the same time as the local investigation, people familiar with the discussions say. Justice officials haven't said whether they plan to go along with the request. The county Grand Jury could complete its work in mid-November.
In an interview with CNN this week, Holder tried to temper expectations on the streets of Ferguson. He noted that when he traveled to Ferguson to try to calm tensions, he promised two things: a fair investigation and reform of the Ferguson police. He added that when the state probe is done, the federal government can review the findings to make sure it was done properly.