Grand Jury Declines To Indict Darren Wilson In Michael Brown's Murder
By Chuck Sudo in News on Nov 25, 2014 2:40AM
A grand jury found no probable cause to charge Ferguson, Missouri police officer Darren Wilson in the August shooting death of unarmed 18-year-old Michael Brown. Prosecuting attorney Robert McCulloch, in an epic case of mansplaining, announced the decision a few moments ago. The jury of nine white and three black jurors were tasked with determining if Wilson was culpable for Brown's death.
Only nine of the 12 grand jury's 12 members need to agree on whether to indict Wilson and investigated charges ranging from unlawful discharge of a firearm to first-degree murder. Unlike a criminal jury which has to determine beyond a reasonable doubt a crime has been committed, the burden of proof with a grand jury is lower. Wilson faced sentences ranging from four years in prison for a second-degree involuntary manslaughter conviction, to either life in prison or death by lethal injection for a first-degree murder conviction.
McCulloch, in his announcement, credited the "unprecedented" cooperation between local and federal officials during the grand jury investigation, and said the grand jury worked thoroughly despite calls from an "insatiable" 24-hour news cycle and social media for Wilson to be held accountable. McCulloch added testimony from eyewitnesses varied from the crime scene from the grand jury.
Prior to the release of the grand jury's report, Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon said "our shared hope and expectation is that regardless of the decision, people on all sides show tolerance, mutual respect, and restraint." Nixon said he visited with faith leaders and Ferguson residents earlier in the day and "we are all focused on making sure the necessary resources are at hand to protect lives, protect property and protect free speech." Nixon noted the National Guard would be on the ground in a support capacity, providing security at places like police stations, firehouses and utility substations, and would provide transportation and logistical support as needed. When asked why the report was released so late, Nixon said the call rested with St. Louis County prosecutors.
Michael Brown’s family released a statement calling for a 4-½ minute moment of silence and peaceful protests regardless of the grand jury’s decision.
”We are not here to be violent. We are here in memory of our son. We are here for protection of all children. We are here to request justice and equality for all people. We lift our voices and demonstrate to ensure black and brown men, women and children can live in this country without being devalued because of the color of our skin.”
The Brown family released a statement after the grand jury's decision was announced.
We are profoundly disappointed that the killer of our child will not face the consequence of his actions.
While we understand that many others share our pain, we ask that you channel your frustration in ways that will make positive change. We need to work together to fix the system that allowed this to happen.
Join with us in our campaign to ensure that every police officer working the streets in this country wears a body camera.
We respectfully ask that you please keep your protests peaceful. Answering violence with violence is not the appropriate action.
Let's not just make noise, let's make a difference.
"Law enforcement personnel must frequently make split-second and difficult decisions. Officer Wilson followed his training and followed the law. We recognize that many people will want to second-guess the grand jury’s decision. We would encourage anyone who wants to express an opinion do so in a respectful and peaceful manner."
St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay also called for calm and no repeats of the police violence that marred the protests in August after Brown was killed. "My message to the protestors: we will protect your right to peacefully assemble and express your mind."
"The world will be watching us," Slay added. "They're going to watch how we handle our disagreements in the coming days and how we make needed change in the coming months and years."
Businesses in Ferguson and neighboring towns boarded up their windows last weekend as it became clear the grand jury report would be made public tonight, while schools canceled classes throughout the week.
Michael Brown was shot and killed by Ferguson Police officer Darren Wilson Aug. 9. An autopsy performed on Brown's body revealed he was shot six times in the arm, head and torso and was shot while facing Wilson. Ferguson police violently responded to protestors for over a week before Nixon called in the National Guard to help restore order and the Justice Department is conducting a civil rights investigation into the Feguson police department. Earlier this week, Nixon declared a state of emergency in Missouri ahead of the release of the grand jury report, citing the "possibility of expanded unrest" following the report being made public.
Attorney General Eric Holder's office is still conducting a separate investigation to determine if Michael Brown's civil rights were violated.