Ferguson Grand Jury Returns No Indictment In Michael Brown Shooting

A not unexpected decision from the Grand Jury that investigated the Michael Brown shooting.

Protests Continue In Missouri Town After Police Shooting Of 18-Yr-Old Man

Some three months after the August 9th encounter that resulted in the death of 18 year-old Michael Brown in a confrontation with Ferguson Police Office Darren Wilson, and just over three months since it started reviewing the evidence related to the case, a St. Louis County, Missouri Grand Jury has determined that that there was insufficient evidence to indict Officer Wilson on any charge in the shooting, bringing to an end at least one part of the legal proceedings in a case that had set of weeks of polarizing protests in Ferguson and renewed debates about racial relationships and police militarization that have been going on for quite some time:

Officer Darren Wilson will not face state criminal charges in the killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson.

St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Robert P. McCulloch announced Monday night that a grand jury delivered a “no true bill” after considering possible charges in the case, meaning an indictment will not be handed down.

A separate federal investigation into whether Wilson violated Brown’s civil rights is continuing, officials said. McCulloch said the two investigations had worked in harmony and evidence was shared with investigators from both levels of government.

“Our only goal was that our investigation would be thorough and complete,” he said.

Wilson’s shooting of the unarmed youth in a confrontation Aug. 9 triggered months of protests, and focused national concerns about policing and race on a suburban St. Louis community that had considered itself a strong example of racial harmony.

Officials, Brown’s family and some protest leaders pleaded for a peaceful reaction to news that seemed certain to anger those who called for Wilson’s arrest and immediate prosecution for murder.

The family of Michael Brown said in a statement that they were “profoundly disappointed that the killer of our child will not face the consequence of his actions.”

They also urged protesters to avoid violence and to work to force police officers to wear body cameras.

“While we understand that many others share our pain, we ask that you channel your frustration in ways that will make a positive change,” they said in the statement. “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.”

Lawyers for Darren Wilson issued a public statement Monday night after learning he would not be indicted, saying, in part, that Wilson “followed his training and followed the law” when he shot and killed Michael Brown Aug. 9.

Protesters began gathering in Ferguson shortly after it was announced that the grand jury had made a decision. A smaller crowd gathered in Clayton, where the announcement of the decision was made to members of the media inside a courtroom where preliminary hearings and arraignments are typically held.

McCulloch, who could have decided on his own whether to charge Wilson, chose instead to take the case to a grand jury. Its 12 members meet in secret and usually hear just a synopsis of evidence before voting on whether to issue an indictment, a legal action that results in a trial.

But in this case, the prosecutor had two assistants present all the evidence available — meaning the grand jurors heard testimony from every witness and saw every report, photograph and video before deciding. Nine of 12 votes are required for in an indictment, but the vote count remains secret.

McCulloch gave his condolences to Brown’s family at the beginning of the press conference.

He said the presentation of evidence and deliberations were done on the grand jury’s schedule. The grand jury met on 25 different days, he said.

McCulloch said some witnesses disagreed with others, and sometimes physical evidence didn’t match witness statements. Almost all the initial interviews of witnesses, including Wilson, were recorded, McCulloch said.

What is not in dispute is that Brown, 18, took a $48 package of cigarillos about noon that day from the Ferguson Market on West Florissant Avenue and had some kind of physical encounter with Wilson, 28, shortly later as the officer sat in a police SUV on Canfield Drive.

Brown’s companion, Dorian Johnson, said Wilson drove up, ordered them to stop walking in the street, then reached through the open driver’s side window and grabbed Brown by the neck to pull him in. Police said Wilson had pushed the door closed to keep Wilson from getting out of the SUV before the men struggled through the window and at least one shot was fired from the officer’s handgun.

The official autopsy indicated that Brown suffered a close-range wound to the thumb, which Wilson’s supporters took to indicate that Brown was reaching for the weapon. His blood was found on the 9mm Sig Sauer semi-automatic.

Witnesses said Brown ran from the vehicle and that Wilson tried to chase him. Some bystanders said Brown had his hands up and was shot when surrendering. Some said he was shot in the back. Sources close to Wilson said he told officials that Brown stopped and aggressively turned back toward him before he fired two volleys.

Brown was shot at least six times, with at least five wounds in the front and one that could have been from the front or back depending upon the position of his arm at the moment. A shot to the top of his head, which may have occurred while he was falling or lunging, officials said, was fatal. Toxicology showed that Brown had used marijuana.

More from The New York Timesspecifically a fairly detailed report of the summary that McCulloch provided of the events that led to the shooting:

At 11:48 a.m. that day, Officer Wilson was on duty, responding to a call about a sick child who was having trouble breathing. Only a few blocks away, Mr. Brown and a friend, Dorian Johnson, were walking into Ferguson Market and Liquor, a convenience store on West Florissant Avenue.

Surveillance video released by the Ferguson Police Department showed Mr. Brown, wearing a St. Louis Cardinals cap, white T-shirt and khaki shorts, stealing cigarillos and shoving a clerk who tried to stop him.

Mr. Brown and Mr. Johnson left the store about 11:54 a.m.

They headed in the direction of their homes, down a winding side street called Canfield Drive that is lined with low-rise apartment buildings with wooden balconies. Mr. Johnson and Mr. Brown walked down the middle of the street, usually quiet at that time of day, with only occasional traffic.

At 12:01 p.m., Officer Wilson appeared on the scene, driving alone in his police vehicle. Through the driver’s side window of his Chevrolet Tahoe, he issued an order: Leave the street and walk on the sidewalk.

At this point, accounts differed widely. Mr. Johnson said that Officer Wilson reached through the open window and grabbed Mr. Brown by the neck, choking and pulling him. According to an account that Officer Wilson gave to various authorities, Mr. Brown was the aggressor, punching him in the face and scratching him on the neck. Pinned in his vehicle, according to his statements to the authorities, Officer Wilson feared for his life and, with his right hand, drew his gun from the holster.

As the two continued to struggle, Officer Wilson fired the gun twice, forensic evidence revealed. One shot hit Mr. Brown in the hand, a county autopsy found.

long Canfield Drive, alarmed neighbors and passers-by began to notice the scuffle.

One witness, Tiffany Mitchell, had stopped at an apartment complex to pick up a co-worker, Piaget Crenshaw, when she saw Officer Wilson and Mr. Brown fighting at the vehicle door. To Ms. Mitchell, she said later, it appeared that the two were “arm-wrestling.”

Continue reading the main story
Ms. Mitchell was reaching for her cellphone to record the confrontation when she saw Mr. Brown wriggle loose from Officer Wilson and begin to run away, she said.

Officer Wilson left the car, pursued Mr. Brown on foot and continued to fire.

Two construction workers who were on Canfield Drive at the time said in interviews with the news media that they had seen Mr. Brown with his hands up when he was shot. One of the workers said “the officer was chasing him.” Other witnesses said Mr. Brown had turned around and was moving toward Officer Wilson.

One witness, Michael T. Brady, a janitor who lives nearby, said in an interview that he had seen Mr. Brown shot in the head while in a bent-down position.

Officer Wilson said Mr. Brown had been running toward him when he fired the fatal shots. Autopsies revealed that Mr. Brown had been shot at least six times. The entire encounter lasted just 90 seconds, police radio communications show.

In many respects the outcome of the Grand Jury proceedings is not at all surprising. For weeks now, reports had been been leaking out indicating that the evidence that was being presented to the panel tended to support the version of events related by Officer Wilson, who in a maneuver that is permitted on the law but is not always typical in criminal cases had testified personally before the Grand Jury as is permitted by law. This evidence included not only the testimony of witnesses, including African-Americans who were present on the scene that afternoon who were reported to have seen the events that led to the final, fatal shots and, both according to those reports and the brief summary that McCulloch provided tonight, seemed to dispute the widespread belief in the days after the shooting that Brown had approached Wilson with his hands up in a sign of surrender. Wilson’s account was apparently also supported by the autopsy evidence, which included autopsies performed by St Louis County, the FBI, and by an expert hired by Brown’s family. Additionally, reports prior to today had indicated that the Federal investigation was indicating that Federal civil rights charges are unlikely as well. Additionally, in the weeks prior to today’s announcement the area was beginning to brace itself for the probability that there would be no indictment and that this would lead to violence from the crowd and further confrontations with police like those we saw in August in the wake of the Brown shooting.

 Not having had access to all of the information that the Grand Jury did, I am not prepared to say at first blush that their refusal to indict based on the evidence presented to them is improper, illegitimate, or based on anything other than their fair consideration of that evidence. District Attorney McCulloch had said that all of the evidence that was submitted to the Grand Jury, including all of the evidence and the transcripts of all of the testimony will be made immediately available to the press and the public so, no doubt, in the days ahead, we will all have our own opportunity to look through that evidence and evaluate for ourselves. It’s worth keeping in mind, though, that reading a dry transcript is far different from hearing witness testimony live, not in the least because it deprives the reader of the opportunity to evaluate physical and other cues from a witness that may give an idea of how credible they might actually be in all or part of their testimony. Additionally, anyone on the outside viewing this testimony will be doing so in the context of already having been exposed to months of media coverage. Given that, the judgment that the Grand Jury got things wrong is one that ought to be avoided unless it is blindingly obvious that they were tainted by bias or some other factor, which simply isn’t something we can say at this early hour.

At the same time, it is worth noting that there has been criticism of the manner in which McCulloch approached this case. As the old saying goes, ordinarily a prosecutor could get a jury “indict a ham sandwich” by carefully controlling what is presented to only that evidence likely to lead to the conclusion that he or she wants. In this case, though, McCulloch treated the Grand Jury as more of an investigative body and presented pretty much every piece of evidence available to the body, presenting them with the variety of charges that he believed they could reach a finding of probable cause ranging from 2nd Degree Murder down to criminally negligent homicide and allowing them to make the decision based on the evidence presented. There’s nothing improper about this procedure, and indeed it is permitted under the laws of pretty much every state, but it also isn’t the way things are typically done in cases involving civilians. This has led some analysts to suggest that McCulloch basically threw his hands up in the air and handed responsibility for the case to the Grand Jury, but, again, this is not necessarily improper and given the large amount of sometimes contradictory eyewitness and forensic evidence in this case it was arguably the best way to approach the matter. The problem, of course, is that the fact that all of this was done in secret, as all Grand Jury proceedings are, means that the pre-existing suspicions that the public had about the matter were only being reinforced by the procedure being used to investigate it.

The most immediate concern in light of the decision, of course, is what happens next in Ferguson. In the immediate aftermath of the announcement, the group of protesters who had gathered outside the Ferguson Police Department turned agitated and violent, setting at least two police cars on fire which resulted in police firing tear gas to try to disburse the crowds. In many ways, the scenes on television look as bad as they did during the worst of the August rioting and police militarization. There have also been reports of gunfire, although it’s unclear who was firing at who or why at this point. On some level, this calls into question the wisdom of waiting until late in the evening to announce the decision, but that was apparently motivated by a desire to wait until the end of rush hour to make sure people had an opportunity to get home. Schools are closed tomorrow and, in most of the area, for the rest of the week, and perhaps the approaching Thanksgiving holiday will cause things to calm down quicker than they might otherwise. In any case, I’m sure that Ferguson will look quite bad when we wake up in the morning. Lost in all of that, likely, will be the question of properly examining the evidence that was presented to the Grand Jury, and taking into account the legitimate concerns of the people of Ferguson who have obviously been frustrated with their police and their city government for long before Michael Brown was shot three and a half months ago.

Update: The New York Times has the collection of documents released in connection with the Grand Jury investigation. It’s quite extensive, consisting of 24 volumes of the transcripts of hearings before the Grand Jury from the first hearing on August 20th to the final hearing on November 21st; the transcripts of witnesses by law enforcement officials of 64 witnesses, a series of exhibits consisting of exhibit and other reports, and photographs of some parts of the crime scene and of Officer Wilson immediately after the incident. Some items, such as photographs of Brown’s body and autopsy photos appear to be withheld, for understandable reason.

FILED UNDER: Crime, Law and the Courts, Race and Politics, , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Ben says:

    Too bad he wasnt a ham sandwich.

    On a more serious note, I think Radley Balko hit it on the head on twitter tonight:

    @radleybalko
    Problem isn’t that grand juries are cautious about indicting cops. It’s that they’re *only* cautious when it’s a cop.




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  2. Tyrell says:

    News reports that rioting and disorder have already broken out: shots fired, property vandalized, looting, and bottles thrown. This sort of senseless violence brings disrepute and discredit to those who are working for peaceful change. Outsiders are doing this for just that reason.




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  3. Stonetools says:

    Too early yet to decide whether the federals will indict. I heard Mccolloghs closing argument in defense of his client Officer Wilson, and there are some definite holes. His story of a boy who is shot, runs away and then decides to charge a guy who is shooting him 12 times sounds incredible to me , and I doubt the Feds will buy McCulloghs defense. Too bad there wasn’t a real prosecutor there to instruct the grand jury and guide it to an indictment, but maybe the attorney general can show St Louis how it’s done.
    It’s too bad that justice wasn’t done here, but there is still hope.




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  4. EddIeInCA says:

    Shocking. Seriously shocking.

    /snark




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  5. PD Shaw says:

    As some people already know, a close high school friend was shot and killed by police in the metro St. Louis area around the time that Michael Brown was killed. There were no witnesses, and the police reported it as suicide by cop. The law enforcement investigation confirmed it as such. The public does not know all there is to know about a person; I certainly knew my friend in a way that the media does not, and the comment sections of the various news stories do not. Exploiters of the dead. Even if it’s all true, the significance of a man is not measured by his worst day. Rest in peace, Michael Brown.




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  6. Davebo says:

    Entirely predictable.

    If the Feds let it stand at this it will be even worse. Right now it’s a stain of injustice on MO. With no action by DOJ it’s a stain on all of America.




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  7. Pharoah Narim says:

    Mccollogh in short: Everybody lied…except Officer Wilson.




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  8. ernieyeball says:

    On some level, this calls into question the wisdom of waiting until late in the evening to announce the decision,..

    It’s a good bet they were waiting and hoping a November snowstorm a la Buffalo, New York would shut everything down.




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  9. Just Me says:

    Looks like rioting has started.

    It’s a shame. I think this decision was pretty much a known and people from outside the city were looking to agitate more than peacefully protest.




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  10. anjin-san says:

    Hardly news. The fix was in from day one.




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  11. Paul Hooson says:

    In many areas I think this would have fallen under some definition of excessive force, but not according to Missouri law. So police procedure varies by area according to law.




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  12. Grewgills says:

    I’m curious how many cases this prosecutor has treated like this. How often does he choose to give all of the evidence available to him and leave what charge to be brought to the grand jury? If I was a betting man I’d put the over/under at one and I’d bet if it were a black teen killing a cop there is no way in hell he would have approached it like this.
    That said, I do hope that the protests remain peaceful and that this incident motivates the citizens of Ferguson to vote for people that will represent the best interests of all of them.




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  13. bill says:

    @Grewgills: why not, it was a losing affair anyway. would you have felt better if he charged the cop and then the jury let him off as the evidence apparently doesn’t show anything to justify a guilty verdict?
    they got see/hear everything including all of the witness testimony- and they didn’t need a unanimous decision either, how much more do you need aside from maybe an all black grand jury?
    that this johnson dude didn’t get charged with filing a false report is obscene- he essentially caused a riot and subsequent insanity which led to the doubling down of stupidity that’s still going on.
    maybe when you all get to see the evidence it may shine some light on those dark corners of the brain that used to be objective?




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  14. ernieyeball says:

    @Grewgills: That said, I do hope that the protests remain peaceful..

    It’s way too late for that. Local St. Louis radio has already confirmed “heavy automatic weapons fire” in one area. Police cars are on fire and at least one pizza joint burned down. Interstate 44 (old US route 66) was shut down by citizens and looting is going on.




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  15. EddIeInCA says:

    Bill –

    Just a small sample of UNARMED black young men killed by police with no repercussions whatsoever:
    ———————————-
    1. Kimani Gray

    Sixteen-year-old Kimani was shot four times in the front and side of his body and three times in the back by two New York City police officers as he left a friend’s birthday party in Brooklyn on March 9, 2013. The only publicly identified eyewitness is standing by her claim that he was empty-handed when he was gunned down. Police were not charged.

    2. Kendrec McDade

    Nineteen-year-old college student McDade was shot and killed in March 2012 when officers responded to a report of an armed robbery of a man in Pasadena, Calif. He was later found to be unarmed, with only a cellphone in his pocket. His death has prompted his family to file a lawsuit, in which McDade’s parents argue that he was left on the street for a prolonged period of time without receiving first aid. According to court documents, McDade’s last words were, “Why did they shoot me?” The officers involved were initially placed on paid administrative leave but have since returned to duty.

    3. Timothy Russell

    Russell and his passenger, Malissa Williams, were killed in Cleveland after police officers fired 137 rounds into their car after a chase in December 2012. Officers said they saw a possible weapon, but no weapon or shell casings were found in the fleeing car or along the chase route. No charges were filed against the police

    4. Ervin Jefferson

    The 18-year-old was shot and killed by two security guards outside his Atlanta home on Saturday, March 24, 2012. His mother says that he was unarmed and trying to protect his sister from a crowd that was threatening her.

    5. Amadou Diallo

    In 1999 four officers in street clothes approached Diallo, a West African immigrant with no criminal record, on the stoop of his New York City building, firing 41 shots and striking him 19 times as he tried to escape. They said they thought the 23-year-old had a gun. It was a wallet. The officers were all acquitted of second-degree-murder charges.

    6. Patrick Dorismond

    The 26-year-old father of two young girls was shot to death in 2000 during a confrontation with undercover police officers who asked him where they could purchase drugs. An officer claimed that Dorismond — who was unarmed — grabbed his gun and caused his own death. But the incident made many wonder whether the recent acquittal of the officers in the Amadou Diallo case sent a signal that the police had a license to kill without consequence.

    7. Ousmane Zongo

    In 2003 Officer Bryan A. Conroy confronted and killed Zongo in New York City during a raid on a counterfeit-CD ring with which Zongo had no involvement. Relatives of the 43-year-old man from Burkina Faso settled a lawsuit against the city for $3 million. The judge in the trial of the officer who shot him (and was convicted of criminally negligent homicide but did not serve jail time) said he was “insufficiently trained, insufficiently supervised and insufficiently led.”

    8. Timothy Stansbury Jr.

    Unarmed and with no criminal record, 19-year-old Stansbury was killed in 2004 in a Brooklyn, N.Y., stairwell. The officer who shot him said he was startled and fired by mistake. Police Commissioner Ray Kelly called his death “a tragic incident that compels us to take an in-depth look at our tactics and training, both for new and veteran officers.” A grand jury deemed it an accident.

    9. Sean Bell

    In the early-morning hours of what was supposed to be 23-year-old Bell’s wedding day, police fired more than 50 bullets at a car carrying him and his friends outside a Queens, N.Y., strip club in 2006. Bell was killed, and two of his friends were wounded. The city of New York agreed to pay more than $7 million to settle a federal lawsuit filed by the family and two friends of Bell. The three detectives who were charged — one of whom yelled “gun,” although Bell was unarmed — were found not guilty of all charges. Just this March, the NYPD fired four of the officers involved in the shooting for disobeying departmental guidelines on the scene.

    10. Orlando Barlow

    Barlow was surrendering on his knees in front of four Las Vegas police officers when Officer Brian Hartman shot him in 2003. Hartman was 50 feet away and said he thought the unarmed 28-year-old was reaching for a gun. The deadly shooting was ruled “excusable.” But a federal investigation later revealed that Hartman and other officers printed T-shirts labeled “BDRT,” which stood for “Baby Daddy Removal Team” and “Big Dogs Run Together,” and that they’d used excessive force during two separate investigations.

    11. Aaron Campbell

    In 2005 Campbell was shot in the back by Portland, Ore., police Officer Ronald Frashour, who said he thought the unarmed man was reaching toward his waistband for a weapon. Witnesses said the 25-year-old was walking backward toward police with his hands locked behind his head moments before the fatal shot was fired. A grand jury cleared Frashour of criminal wrongdoing but sent a letter to the county district attorney’s office condemning police handling of the incident. Campbell’s mother received a $1.2 settlement in the family’s federal wrongful-death lawsuit against the city of Portland.

    12. Victor Steen

    In 2009, 17-year-old Victor, who was riding his bicycle, refused to stop when chased by a police officer in a cruiser in Pensacola, Fla. In response, the officer aimed his Taser out of the driver’s window and fired and then ran over the unarmed teen, killing him. The deadly incident was captured on video. A judge ruled that no crime was committed.

    13. Steven Eugene Washington

    Washington was shot by gang-enforcement officers Allan Corrales and George Diego in Los Angeles one night in 2010 after he approached them and appeared to remove something from his waistband. The officers said they’d heard a loud sound in the area and the 27-year-old, who was autistic, was looking around suspiciously. No weapon was ever recovered.

    14. Alonzo Ashley

    Police say that 29-year-old Ashley refused to stop splashing water from a drinking fountain on his face at the Denver Zoo one hot day in 2011, then made irrational comments and threw a trash can. The responding officers, who didn’t dispute that he was unarmed, killed him with a Taser, saying he had “extraordinary strength.” No criminal charges were filed against them.

    15. Wendell Allen

    Allen was fatally shot in the chest by officers executing a warrant on his house on March 7, 2012, in New Orleans. The 20-year-old was unarmed, and five children were home at the time of his death. Police found 4.5 ounces of marijuana on Allen after they killed him. An attorney for the family says that New Orleans police are investigating whether Officer Joshua Colclough was wrong to pull the trigger.

    16. 17. Ronald Madison and James Brissette

    In 2005, in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, five officers opened fire on an unarmed family on the east side of the Danziger Bridge, killing 17-year-old James Brissette and wounding four others. Next, officers shot at brothers Lance and Ronald Madison. Ronald, a 40-year-old man with severe mental disabilities, was running away when he was hit, and an officer stomped on and kicked him before he died. In a federal criminal trial, five officers involved in what have become known as the “Danziger Bridge Shootings” were convicted of various civil rights violations, but not murder.

    18. Travares McGill

    In 2005 in Sanford, Fla. (the same county in which Travyon Martin was killed), the 16-year-old was killed by two security guards, one of whom testified that Travares was trying to hit him with his car. But evidence showed that the bullet that killed the teen hit him in the middle of the back and that the guard kept firing even after the car was no longer headed toward him.

    19. Ramarley Graham

    In 2012 Officer Richard Haste shot and killed 18-year-old Graham in the bathroom of his grandmother’s Bronx, N.Y., home after a chase while he was attempting to flush a bag of marijuana down the toilet. Police did not have a warrant to enter the house, and Graham had no weapon. A grand jury charged the officer with manslaughter, but a judge tossed the indictment in May, ruling that the prosecution inadvertently misled jurors by telling them not to consider whether he was warned that Graham had a gun.

    20. Eric Garner

    Garner, a 43-year-old asthmatic father of six, was confronted by New York City police officers for allegedly selling untaxed cigarettes. When he resisted being cuffed, an officer appeared to put him in a chokehold—a tactic banned by the department since 1993. A video of the arrest, first obtained by the New York Daily News, shows Garner gasping,”I can’t breathe!” while officers relentlessly smother him. July, 2014

    21. John Crawford

    Two police officers responded to a 911 call about a man waving a gun at customers inside a Walmart store. According the Beavercreek police department, 22-year-old John Crawford disregarded officers’ orders to disarm before being fatally shot in the chest. Crawford’s gun turned out to be a .177 calibre BB rifle that he’d picked up from a store shelf. Walmart surveillance camera footage was turned over to the police but hasn’t been released to the public or Crawford’s family. “Why did John Crawford, a Walmart customer, get shot and killed carrying a BB gun in a store that sells BB guns?” asked Michael Wright, the family’s attorney, during a joint press conference with the NAACP. “All the family demands is answers.” The Ohio Attorney General’s Office is investigating the case.

    —————————————
    I’m gonna stop here. I have a really long list if you want more.

    There is a serious problem of young black men being killed by police in this country. One was killed for carrying A TOY BB GUN INSIDE A WALMART (in a state that has open carry laws). I guarantee you that a white guy carrying a REAL rifle won’t get gunned down inside a Walmart in the middle of the day.

    Maybe seeing historical context will allow some empathy to enter that deep dark hole you call a soul.




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  16. ernieyeball says:

    @EddIeInCA: Maybe seeing historical context will allow some empathy to enter that deep dark hole you call a soul.

    Nice try Eddie. But you are dreaming. Bill doesn’t give a damn.




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  17. anjin-san says:

    Not surprisingly, violence has erupted in Ferquson. It’s a grand night for bithead, Jenos, and the rest of their ilk…




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  18. anjin-san says:

    We need to be realistic about who and what we are as a culture.

    Our society accepts police shooting down young men of color on the flimsiest of pretexts. We accept that the police are not accountable for their actions. We accept that children will be slaughtered by gunfire on a regular basis.

    This is who we are. It’s not pretty, but it’s reality.




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  19. EddIeInCA says:

    Watching Fox News is almost surreal. The gist of their coverage can be summed up as “Look at those darkie animals. Why can’t they just trust the system, knowing that it’s fair for all of us. Brave White Cop = Hero. Dead Black Unarmed Teenager = Thug Negro.”

    We are so screwed as a country.




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  20. michael reynolds says:

    @EddIeInCA:
    I wish we could do permalinks to comments, I’d like toTweet that.




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  21. EddIeInCA says:

    @anjin-san:

    Agreed. We should own it, given that’s the truth.




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  22. EddIeInCA says:
  23. Gustopher says:

    @bill:

    why not, it was a losing affair anyway. would you have felt better if he charged the cop and then the jury let him off as the evidence apparently doesn’t show anything to justify a guilty verdict?

    Evidence presented in the open, under cross-examination and under oath? Yes, that would be great, even if he was found not guilty.

    The process was set up to not get an indictment, and lo and behold, no indictment. And, it was announced after dark — I can only fathom that they wanted rioting.




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  24. C. Clavin says:

    I never followed this case because I knew the outcome from the start.
    It’s just another example of the division in our society.
    It’s one thing to read the racist comments from bill and Florack and Superduper and Jenos…it’s another thing to live with that boot on your neck everyday. The bigots will claim vindication by the unrest in St. Louis…incapable of seeing their role in it and the blood on their hands.
    It’s a mistake to focus on the details here. Better to see it as a symptom of a disease in a society where people like bill and Florack and Superduper and Jenos exist. That’s the problem that needs solving.




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  25. Tyrell says:

    CNN reports this morning parts of town on fire, property damage, reporter hit by rock. The best thing to do would be for residents to go home or meet in churches. Then the outsiders who came in to do all the mayhem could then be arrested.




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  26. C. Clavin says:

    @Tyrell:
    Yes…all you colored people…back in your homes!!!




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  27. Mikey says:

    @bill:

    would you have felt better if he charged the cop and then the jury let him off

    Well, yeah, of course. Because that would have been an actual trial, with all the adversarial procedure and rules of evidence and testimony and prosecution and defense and everything else a trial entails.

    A grand jury proceeding isn’t supposed to be a quasi-trial. It’s one-sided, the rules are different, the jury doesn’t even have to vote unanimously. But a quasi-trial is what happened here.




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  28. stonetools says:

    It’s noteworthy that college students (mostly white) rioted in support of Joe Paterno and the media narrative was NOT “Violent whites riot in support of child abuse enabler.”
    I am torn about the efficacy of demonstrations. OOH, there is a First Amendment right to demonstrate peacefully, and a peaceful demonstration is a good way of channeling, displaying and sustaining community energy and anger at injustice. OTOH, there are often going to be instances of violence, especially if the police react to demonstrate with provocation and violence (for instance, firing tear gas at demonstrators marching peacefully).
    Demonstration supporters then want to focus on the reason for the demonstrations, and the fact that demonstrators were mostly peaceful, but then that tends to lose to the counter narrative of “chaos”, “panic in the streets,” and “lawless darkies on the rampage .” A thousand people marching peacefully draws fewer eyeballs than an image of one burning building on permanent loop, which is how cable tv networks present the story, even the non-Fox News networks.
    A problem here is that it is difficult to create and sustain institutions devoted to the quotidian purpose of turning out voters, which is the way to change the institutions that produced the process and the result in this case. Voting the rascals out really is the best way to change things, but that’s hard to organize.




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  29. Mu says:

    The bad part is, even if Wilson’s story is 100% correct, the involvement of McCulloch stains the process indelibly. From day one, no one thought McCulloch would run a fair investigation, and short of slow motion 5 camera replay nothing would convince the general public that the fix wasn’t in.




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  30. stonetools says:

    Nine of 12 votes are required for in an indictment,

    Note that if four voters vote against indictment, there is no charge

    but the vote count remains secret

    So convenient. If you want a preordained result, the better way to produce that result is a secret proceeding over which you have total control, rather than a public trial that you only partially control. That’s how it was done in Jim Crow days, and I guess that’s still the best way.

    A couple tweets:

    11h 11 hours ago

    McCullough just misstated the requirements of indictment. It does NOT require a thorough examination of all evidence. That’s for a trial

    FiveThirtyEightVerified account ‏@FiveThirtyEight
    A prosecutor could persuade a grand jury to “indict a ham sandwich.” The data suggests that’s barely an exaggeration: http://53eig.ht/1va4jb6

    Data:

    The data suggests he was barely exaggerating: According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, U.S. attorneys prosecuted 162,000 federal cases in 2010, the most recent year for which we have data. Grand juries declined to return an indictment in 11 of them.




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  31. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Offered without comment:

    “This is rather unfortunate. A review has shown that police shooting is the most common form of homicide in Utah over the last 5 years. More common than killings by drug dealers, gang members, from child abuse and anything else. But in some ways, even more eye-popping than that was this response from the spokesman for the Utah state police union. Asked about the report, Ian Adams said “The onus is on the person being arrested to stop trying to assault and kill police officers and the innocent public. … Why do some in society continue to insist the problem lies with police officers?”

    via TPM




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  32. Barry says:

    @bill: “..they got see/hear everything including all of the witness testimony- and they didn’t need a unanimous decision either, how much more do you need aside from maybe an all black grand jury?”

    No, they didn’t. They got to hear what the prosecutor wanted them to hear, with no cross-examination or presentation of witnesses on the other side.




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  33. JKB says:

    @Mikey:

    You got something against the 5th amendment?

    The Fifth Amendment states: “No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a grand jury.”

    As Doug updated the post, a good portion of the information the Grand Jury had has been released. Lots of people will be going through it. As an added bonus, there is also Officer Wilson’s 4 hours of testimony, which might not have been offered in a trial. Plus, as many decried in Florida, depending on the state laws and rules of procedure, hearings on self defense can end the prosecution the matter before trial.

    It seems quite obvious that the DA did not find sufficient probable cause to charge Wilson. He therefore could not lay out the probable cause to the Grand Jury to get the “rubberstamp” indictment. But rather than make the decision solely on his own, he presented the entire body of evidence to the Grand Jury so that they could make a determination themselves free of the influence of the prosecutor. It is the very fundamental way of doing it.




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  34. JKB says:

    @stonetools: Grand juries declined to return an indictment in 11 of them.

    Of course, what is missing from that statement is that prosecutors do not take cases to the grand jury that they do not believe they present a case that supports probable cause which is all that is required for indictment. The grand jury indicts on probable cause without thought as to whether the prosecution can make a case beyond a reasonable doubt as is required in court or overcome counter arguments from the defense.

    However, if there is not sufficient probable cause based on the one-sided presentation of evidence by the prosecution to the grand jury, then indictment and subsequent state prosecution opens the door to government oppression and harassment of the citizens it is suppose to represent.




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  35. Mikey says:

    @JKB: The 5th Amendment grand jury clause is irrelevant in this case. Wilson was never going to be charged with a capital crime.

    It is the very fundamental way of doing it.

    It is a very unusual way of doing it. Grand juries are not like trial juries and the grand jury proceeding was never intended to be used as a quasi-trial.




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  36. JKB says:

    @Barry: No, they didn’t. They got to hear what the prosecutor wanted them to hear, with no cross-examination or presentation of witnesses on the other side.

    So you are unhappy that the advocate for the Officer Wilson was not afforded the opportunity to question witnesses or to present witnesses of his own choosing? Or actually be in the room or know anything of what was said during the proceedings.

    And the grand jury, unlike a trial jury, can ask witnesses questions, cross-examine them if they feel they need clarification on what they stated, usually under questioning by the prosecutor.




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  37. rodney dill says:

    @michael reynolds: If you click on the date under the name on each comment you get the link for that comment. Is that what you were looking for?




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  38. CET says:

    Three thoughts:

    1) I’d be curious to see the data, but it seems likely that ‘broken windows’ and ‘stop and frisk’ type policies increase police shootings (particularly of young African American men). If a city encourages its officers to have hostile interactions with citizens over any trivial little thing, some of those interactions are going to turn violent. (e.g. Latte liberals can applaud Bloomberg or be outraged by Ferguson, but not both.)

    2) I really don’t understand why people (and particularly reporters) keep insisting that this is some kind of morality tale, with an innocent young man (a ‘gentle giant’ even) gunned down in cold blood by the police . . . The FPD may well be hostile to the minority communities that it is supposed to serve, but there was a very clumsy effort to force this incident into a narrative that just didn’t accurately describe what appears to have happened.

    3) While predictions about rioting and violence may have been in bad taste, they were correct. I would link this to (2) above, and argue that many media outlets went out of their way to create a narrative that made rioting more likely.




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  39. At 11:48 a.m. that day, Officer Wilson was on duty, responding to a call about a sick child who was having trouble breathing.

    Which necessitated sending a police officer because ???

    At 12:01 p.m., Officer Wilson appeared on the scene, driving alone in his police vehicle. Through the driver’s side window of his Chevrolet Tahoe, he issued an order: Leave the street and walk on the sidewalk.

    So given a call that a child might not be breathing, not only does the city of Ferguson send a cop instead of an ambulance, but said cop decides to stop on his way there so he can dick around with some random black people.




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  40. stonetools says:

    @JKB:

    Your problem here is that I have actual experience of carrying out criminal prosecutions and I’m here to tell you that prosecutors press charges, and grand juries indict, routinely in cases that meet the low probable cause standard.Remember, the standard for probable cause is that sufficient to justify an arrest. It is much lower than the beyond reasonable doubt standard.
    In homicide cases its very rare for prosecutors not to indict in cases where its certain that A shot B dead. Generally, issues of conflicting testimony and credibility of witnesses are considered matters for a public trial, not a secret grand jury proceeding.

    McCullogh spoke about inconsistencies in witness testimony. I’m here to tell you that prosecutors charge and try cases involving inconsistient witness testimony all the time, and win them. Again, I know that for a fact.

    But don’t believe me , focus on the data:

    The data suggests he was barely exaggerating: According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, U.S. attorneys prosecuted 162,000 federal cases in 2010, the most recent year for which we have data. Grand juries declined to return an indictment in 11 of them

    That’s a 0.6875 per cent non-indictment rate-vanishingly small.




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  41. JKB says:

    @stonetools:

    I notice you don’t address prosecutions when self defense is raised as justification for the use of deadly force. Self defense in most jurisdictions is not a trial defense but rather a claim that must be overcome by prosecutors by showing probable cause that it is not justifiable based on the evidence. Even if they do get an indictment or as in the Zimmerman case, choose to prosecute due to politics, they must then overcome the affirmative defense beyond a reasonable doubt.




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  42. humanoid.panda says:

    @CET:

    Latte liberals can applaud Bloomberg or be outraged by Ferguson, but not both

    Please show me, a “latte liberal” who supported Bloomberg on stop and frisk. In fact, “latte liberals” were all behind DeBlasio’s campaign to roll-back Bloomberg style policing, while the usual suspects sniggered about how they are about to turn New York into a hell on earth.




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  43. bandit says:

    @Stonetools: Justice was done moron – do you want to live in a society ruled by lynchmobs?




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  44. al-Ameda says:

    @Tyrell:

    This sort of senseless violence brings disrepute and discredit to those who are working for peaceful change.

    “Peaceful change” never seems to come, does it? Especially not in these high-profile police shooting incidents. The Justice system continues to delviver a similar result – law enforcement is not very much restricted in the use of deadly force, especially when it comes to shootings such as what occurred in Ferguson.

    Just as the rioters will be discredited, pPerhaps some discredit and disrepute will accrue to the Ferguson Police Department for what happened here?




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  45. bandit says:

    Sorry the lunatic lefty h8rs didn’t get the lynchmob they so desparately wanted. But the ‘peaceful protesters’ honored the life of Michael Brown by setting 25 structure fires. A truly fitting memorial to his short tragic life.




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  46. Another Mike says:

    @stonetools:

    Just out of curiosity, do you know how many of those 162,000 indictments involved peace officers indicted for actions taken in the performance of their duty?




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  47. stonetools says:

    @JKB:

    Of course, the point is that in those cases, there is a public trial where people get see the witnesses and hear the defense. All the Ferguson protesters were insisting on is a public trial-not a guilty verdict, nor the execution of Officer Wilson, but a full public trial. Instead, we got a secret exoneration by a prosecutor who did not follow standard procedure, for reasons unknown, and who shouldn’t have even been the prosecutor (his backstory is that he is the son of a white police officer killed by a black man). It just doesn’t look like justice-except, of course, for those who believe that white police officers should never be held accountable for killing unarmed black men.




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  48. stonetools says:

    @Another Mike: @Another Mike:

    Just out of curiosity, do you know how many of those 162,000 indictments involved peace officers indicted for actions taken in the performance of their duty

    Dunno- but if the rate was much different, it would beg the question , “Why?” Are the police a special privileged caste that are allowed to kill civilians with impunity?
    Isn’t that the the standard of a fascist society, rather than a democratic society, where the ideal is “Equal Justice Under the Law.”




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  49. al-Ameda says:

    @CET:
    (e.g. Latte liberals can applaud Bloomberg or be outraged by Ferguson, but not both.)
    ______________________
    Maybe it’s just me, but as an ‘Americano’ Liberal, I do not see where Bloomberg is/was a proponent of the wanton use of deadly or excessive force.




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  50. Another Mike says:

    @stonetools:

    the ideal is “Equal Justice Under the Law.”

    I would say that the goal of society is justice. If one person receives justice and another person does not receive justice, then society has not achieved justice. However, in the case before us justice was done. Justice is not what those protesting and rioting are looking for. There is only one outcome that will satisfy them, and that outcome was determined from day one.




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  51. Grewgills says:

    @bill:
    Because consistent application of the law matters. Either the prosecutor should give all of the potentially exonerating evidence in all grand jury proceedings or in none of them. He shouldn’t give the potentially exonerating evidence only when he takes police to the grand jury.




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  52. Grewgills says:

    Can Wilson be sued by the family ala OJ or is he immune because his action was performed when on duty?




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  53. Grewgills says:

    @Another Mike:
    Justice unequally applied is not justice. The process was not evenly applied, so no justice was not done. If the prosecutor had presented evidence to the grand jury in the same way that he presented it in all of his dealings with civilians justice would have been done regardless of the decision of the grand jury.




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  54. anjin-san says:

    @bandit:

    Justice was done moron

    No, a process was followed. Our system promises us due process. Nowhere is there a right to justice, and the process of law in no way guarantees a just result.

    If you don’t understand that, I suggest you are calling the wrong person a moron.

    My dad was an attorney, a very good one. I remember him saying that 80% of the time, the party with the best paper trail won, and justice did not have a damn thing to do with it.




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  55. Tyrell says:

    @C. Clavin: No. The residents and citizens are ready and willing to work for change in local leadership, forming a citizens committee to review police procedures, and to recruit more local minorities into the police force and district attorney’s office. They are ready to put in the work to change and build. They are not the ones destroying their own town.
    The people who are setting things on fire, looting, destroying private and public property, and trying to injure others want no part of working through the system. Most are outsiders, sent in to bring discredit and disfavor to any local reform movements. They are sent in to destroy democratic government.




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  56. Tyrell says:

    @stonetools: I recall many a time of rioting, looting, and blatant lawless destruction on the heels of some big college or pro sports team losing a championship game. This is something that is totally uncalled for, outrageous, and done only for maliciousness. Usually it is a mixture of races, just a bunch of hooligans and thugs who should be put away for several years.
    In another lesson, I remember a taped phone conversation between President Johnson and Hubert H. Humphrey concerning the summer riots that occurred during their term. Their strong belief was that it was the work of the communists. Cabinet member Joe Califano gave credence and support to this later when he said that “this country was under siege!” And those of us around then felt the same way.




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  57. ernieyeball says:

    @Tyrell: Most are outsiders,..Their strong belief was that it was the work of the communists.

    If you focus on this claptrap you will never see what’s going on.




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  58. ernieyeball says:

    @Tyrell:..They are sent in to destroy democratic government.

    There you go again. The enigmatic they who you claim are “sent in”. By whom?
    Please help us all understand whatever evidence you might have to support the existence of these “communists(?)”!
    I’m sure the FPD and other authorities will be grateful for the assistance.




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  59. bill says:

    @EddIeInCA: thx, go see the fbi stats on who’s killing more black guys, cops or black guys.

    @Barry: you’ll get to see it too, seriously- do you think all the jurors were just too dumb to put all the pieces together or was it that the pieces didn’t fit together?

    @Grewgills: in reality the da wouldn’t have brought any charges against him to begin with as the evidence wasn’t there, he was forced to due to the rioting/white house intervention as well as his father being a cop who was gunned down- so he did what they wanted and the result is the same- so obviously they didn’t care about anything that didn’t land the cop in jail.
    and i believe they can sue, it’s still the same overly litigious country! i don’t know if a civil jury will be able to see anything more that the grand jury did.

    and please kids, don’t let my objectivity seem like i don’t care about a young kid dying- i have deep ties to the black community and try shed a differing view on things.




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  60. An Interested Party says:

    “i have deep ties to the black community and try shed a differing view on things.”

    Translation: Some of my best friends are black so I can say whatever I want about black people…




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