He also said federal authorities want to calm any public fears that no action will be taken on the case.
President Barack Obama, who has been getting regular briefings on the situation in Ferguson while on vacation, also was to be briefed by Holder upon returning to the White House today.
The Justice Department’s latest announcement followed the first night of a state-imposed curfew in Ferguson, which ended with tear gas and seven arrests after police dressed in riot gear used armored vehicles to disperse defiant protesters.
Missouri State Highway Patrol Capt. Ron Johnson said protesters weren’t the reason for the escalated police reaction early Sunday after the midnight curfew took effect, but rather a report of people who had broken into a barbecue restaurant and taken to the roof, and a man who flashed a handgun in the street as armored vehicles approached the crowd of protesters.
Also overnight, a man was shot and critically wounded in the same area, but not by police; authorities were searching for the shooter. Someone also shot at a police car, officials said.
The protests have been going on since Brown’s death heightened racial tensions between the predominantly black community and mostly white Ferguson Police Department, leading to several run-ins between police and protesters and prompting Missouri’s governor to put the Highway Patrol in charge of security.
Ferguson police waited six days to publicly reveal the name the officer involved was Darren Wilson, a six-year police veteran who had no previous complaints against him. At the same time, they released documents alleging Brown robbed a convenience store before he was killed, though Chief Thomas Jackson said Wilson did not know Brown was a suspect when he encountered him walking in the street with a friend.
Gov. Jay Nixon, who imposed the curfew after declaring a state of emergency as protests turned violent to start the weekend, said Sunday morning on ABC’s “This Week” that he was not aware the police were going to release surveillance video from the store where Brown is alleged to have stolen a $49 box of cigars.
“It’s appeared to cast aspersions on a young man that was gunned down in the street. It made emotions raw,” Nixon said.
Police have said little about the encounter between Brown and the officer other than that a scuffle ensued after the initial stop, the officer was injured and Brown was shot. Witnesses say the teenager had his hands in the air as the officer fired multiple rounds.
As the curfew deadline arrived early Sunday, most protesters left the streets, but some refused to leave the area as officers spoke through a loudspeaker: “You are in violation of a state-imposed curfew. You must disperse immediately.”
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. Highway Patrol Spokesman Lt. John Hotz initially said police only used smoke, but later said they also used tear gas canisters.