By James Queally
An online fund created to raise money for the Ferguson, Mo., police officer who killed Michael Brown has amassed more than $150,000, outpacing a similar account for the slain man's family.
The GoFundMe.com account for Officer Darren Wilson reached that total in just three days, according to the website. About 3,900 people had donated $156,276 as of about 5 p.m. Central time on Thursday.
The Brown fund, also on GoFundMe.com, has raised $133,783 in eight days from more than 4,900 people.
The Wilson page's mission statement says: "We stand behind Officer Darren Wilson and his family during this trying time in their lives. All proceeds will be sent directly to Darren Wilson and his family for any financial needs they may have including legal fees."
The shooting touched off nearly two weeks of racial strife in this mostly black St. Louis suburb of 21,000 people. Wilson is white; Brown was black.
Some of the contributors described themselves as fellow law enforcement officers. Along with money, they have sent messages of support to Wilson and decried the actions of the federal government and the news media in response to the Aug. 9 shooting.
"The rush to judgment on this man is un-American. We have both the president and the attorney general of the United States prejudging him and putting the weight of the entire government into the prosecution of Officer Wilson," wrote one man who identified himself as Michael Donovan. "He deserves his chance to tell his side of the story."
Actually, Obama has avoided taking sides.
"I have to be very careful about not prejudging these events before investigations are completed because ... the DOJ works for me," Obama said, referring to the Justice Department. "When they're conducting an investigation, I've got to make sure that I don't look like I'm putting my thumb on the scales one way or the other."
The Justice Department is investigating whether Brown's civil rights were violated. Local authorities are investigating the killing itself. A St. Louis County grand jury began hearing evidence on the case Wednesday.
Brown family attorney Benjamin Crump says on GoFundMe that the money raised will go directly to the Brown family, not for legal fees.
"These funds will assist his family with costs that they will acquire as they seek justice on Michael’s behalf," Crump says.
Many of the donations to Brown's family have been accompanied by messages offering condolences.
An email to the person behind the Wilson support page was not immediately returned. A call to Crump's office seeking comment was also not immediately returned.
Wilson shot the unarmed Brown several times after an altercation near the Canfield Green apartments. Nearly a week later, police said Brown, 18, was a suspect in a convenience store strong-arm robbery that happened moments before the shooting. Police say Brown assaulted Wilson and tried to snatch his firearm.
However, Ferguson Police Chief Thomas Jackson has said Wilson stopped Brown and his friend, Dorian Johnson, because they were "walking down the middle of the street." Jackson told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that Wilson did not know Brown was a robbery suspect until after he had shot Brown.
Several witnesses contend that Wilson shot Brown as the young man ran away and held his hands up to surrender.