Attorney General Eric Holder says that he is beyond exasperated — he is “mad,” in fact — at the leaks pouring out of the investigation into the police shooting death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri.
Holder even went so far as to advise those responsible for leaking the information to “shut up” in a public interview at the Washington Ideas Forum on Wednesday.
“I think that somebody, these leakers, have made the determination that they’re trying to somehow shape public opinion about this case,” Holder told The Washington Post’s Jonathan Capehart.
“And that’s inconsistent with the way in which we conduct investigations, and especially grand jury investigations which are supposed to be secret.”
The leaks include claims that the grand jury weighing whether to press charges against Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson has been provided with evidence that the officer fired two shots inside of his car during a struggle with Brown and that blood was found on Wilson’s gun. That would seem to support Wilson’s claim that Brown attacked him.
Another leaker claimed that seven or eight African-American witnesses have provided testimony to the grand jury that supports Wilson’s version of events. Those witnesses are reportedly afraid to come forward publicly with their information. (REPORT: Witnesses Support Wilson’s Claims But Are Afraid To Come Forward)
Brown’s official autopsy was also leaked to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Two forensic pathologists who analyzed the results told the paper that the autopsy appeared to support Wilson’s claims. They said that Wilson had shot Brown in the hand, a finding which led one examiner to suggest that Brown migh have been reaching for Wilson’s weapon. The same examiner also said that the autopsy results suggested that Brown was not holding his hands up in a surrender position, as some witnesses have claimed.
“This notion of leaking out selective information, which started as early as release of that tape…the convenience store. And then these leaks about what happened in the car. These are all the kinds of things that I think are inappropriate. I’ve said I’m exasperated. That’s a nice way of saying it. I’m mad,” said Holder, who recently announced that he will leave the Department of Justice.
Holder also appeared to put the blame for the leaks on local law enforcement agencies rather than federal authorities.
“We’ve not seen any leaks there. Whoever the sources of the leaks are need to shut up,” he said.
At Wednesday’s event, Holder also addressed a recent report that Ferguson chief Tom Jackson would be replaced with St. Louis County police chief Jon Belmar. Holder refused to comment on the matter, but did indicate that he would support the ouster.
“I think it’s pretty clear that the need for wholesale change in that department is appropriate,” he said.
The Department of Justice is currently investigating not only the shooting but also the Ferguson police department in what is called a “patterns and practices” inquiry to determine if the police department has engaged in systematic racism.
Chief Jackson and Ferguson mayor James Knowles denied the reports that Jackson was leaving his post. Knowles also told The Daily Caller on Tuesday that he was informed by CNN — which first aired the report that Jackson was being removed — that the DOJ was the source of their information.