By RYAN GORMAN
An explosive new lawsuit filed in St. Louis seeking the release of Michael Brown's juvenile criminal record alleges the slain teen was a gang member and faced a second degree murder charge.
The citizen journalism website GotNews took St. Louis County authorities to court Wednesday to secure the release of the records because it believes they do not need to be kept private since he is no longer alive.
The unarmed Brown was fatally shot earlier this month by white Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson. He has no criminal record as an adult, but only because he had recently turned 18, claims GotNews Editor-in-chief Charles Johnson.
The citizen journo wrote in a Wednesday afternoon post to his site and on Twitter that he was told by law enforcement sources the black teen has a juvenile arrest record that is being kept private.
- Charles C. Johnson (@ChuckCJohnson) August 20, 2014
Johnson also claims cops told him that Brown's juvenile arrest record contains a second-degree murder charge and there are rumors he is a member of the notorious Crips street gang.
"To find out if those police officers are correct requires seeing Brown's juvenile arrest record, which ought to be freely available given that he is dead and therefore has no right to privacy remaining," insists Johnson.
"Knowing the truth about Brown's past will help us gauge the credibility of his parents and family who have called him a 'gentle giant.'"
Attorney Johnathon Burns, who is arguing the case, told KMOX that since the teen is deceased, his records are no longer sealed.
"Missouri common law applies, and under Missouri common law, court records and virtually all other documents are open to the public," said Burns.
Saint Louis University Associate Law Professor Tricia Harrison disagreed in comments to the station, saying that "to suggest that the general public has a right to know what any juvenile does in any situation is ludicrous."
Courts normally only give up a juvenile's right to privacy to schools and counselors, she added.
Johnson cites the previous instance of William L. Halstead, a white 18-year-old who stole a packet of cigarettes.
- Charles C. Johnson (@ChuckCJohnson) August 18, 2014
Halstead was beaten by a security guard until his neck was broken and he was paralyzed, Johnson recalls. The teen died 19 days later.
"Halstead's juvenile arrest record was released as part of a wrongful death suit filed by his family, much to their protestation."
AOL News was not immediately able to reach St. Louis County authorities for comment on the lawsuit or its claims.
Brown was laid to rest Monday after a nationally televised funeral.
A court hearing is set for September 3.
Timeline: Michael Brown's death, the Ferguson protests and his funeral
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