Officer Darren Wilson will not face any charges for the shooting death of unarmed black teen Michael Brown in August 2014. St. Louis County Prosecutor Bob McCulloch made the announcement on the night of November 24. The prosecutor said the physical evidence did not support an indictment, and several witnesses whose accounts originally seemed damning have either recounted their statements or been discredited based on the evidence, including that gathered from multiple autopsies. Officer Darren Wilson fired 12 shots on August 9. In conclusion, McCulloch said, decisions “must be determined by physical and scientific evidence” and not by public outcry.
Michael Brown’s parents released a statement just seconds after the 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 a 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 reaction.
Let’s not just make noise, let’s make a difference.”
Lesley McSpadden and Michael Brown, Sr.
Parents of Michael Brown, Jr.
In a brief statement given to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, lawyers for Darren Wilson said:
Today, a St. Louis County grand jury released its decision that no charges would be filed in the case involving Officer Darren Wilson. From the onset, we have maintained and the grand jury agreed that Officer Wilson’s actions on August 9 were in accordance with the laws and regulations that govern the procedures of an officer.
In a case of this magnitude, a team of prosecutors rightfully presented evidence to this St. Louis County grand jury. This group of citizens, drawn at random from the community, listened to witnesses and heard all the evidence in the case. Based on the evidence and witness testimony, the grand jury collectively determined there was no basis for criminal charges against Officer Wilson.
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.
On a side note, Officer Wilson would like to thank those who have stood by his side throughout the process. This continued support is greatly appreciated by Officer Wilson and his family. Moving forward, any commentary on this matter will be done in the appropriate venue and not through the media.
Here’s what you need to know.
1. Of the 12 Grand Jury Members, 9 Were White
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that there were 12 people on the Michael Brown shooting grand jury. Nine of those were white and three black. At least 9 out 12 members were needed to indict Officer Wilson. The officer has been cleared of state charges. The grand jurors have returned what is called in legal speak a “No True Bill.” On the day the verdict was announcement, St. Louis city prosecutor Jennifer Joyce called the grand jury process “fair and reliable.” Prosecutor Bob McCulloch began his speech announcing the decision by offering his condolences to the Brown family. The jury deliberated for two days before returning the no indictment.
2. One Cop in St. Louis Told Citizens: ‘If You Don’t Have a Gun, Get One’
As the news of the decision filters through the streets of Ferguson, civil unrest is expected. Beginning on the night of November 20, there have been minor outbreaks of trouble.
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that three protesters have been arrested in the trouble and one person was pepper sprayed. In days leading up to the verdict, photos were spread through social media of the paramilitary equipment being prepped by officers in preparation for rioting.
KSDK in St. Louis reported that schools would dismiss early in the city if the indictment decision comes down during school hours.
Gun sales in St. Louis skyrocketed during the grand jury’s deliberations, with one officer telling CBS St. Louis, “If you don’t have a gun, get one.”
On November 17, Governor Jay Nixon ordered Missouri be put under a state of emergency.
3. Michael Brown Told Protesters: ‘Hurting Others Is Not the Answer’
In a video uploaded on November 20, Michael Brown’s dad, Michael Brown Sr. pleaded with protesters to remain calm during the fallout of the indictment decision. He says in the video:
Hurting others and destroying others is not the answer. No matter what the grand jury decides, I do not want my son’s death to be in vain. I want it to lead to incredible change, positive change, change that makes the St. Louis region better for everyone.
4. Officer Wilson Is Resigning, But He Doesn’t Think He Did Anything Wrong
CNN reported that Darren Wilson may be in talks with the Ferguson Police Department to resign. Sources told the network that Wilson maintains his innocence and his decision will be based on the grand jury verdict. The officer feels his resignation will ease the pressure on the Ferguson Police Department. The New York Times reported on November 21 that Wilson has no plans to return to the Ferguson police.
5. The DOJ Doesn’t Think a Civil Rights Investigation Into Wilson Will Result in Any Charges
The Washington Post reports that outgoing Attorney General Eric Holder will launch a civil rights investigation into the shooting of Michael Brown. The Post adds though that that investigation is unlikely to result in any charges. Wilson could face a civil suit also.