Nine whites and three blacks that made-up the Ferguson grand jury in the shooting of teen Michael Brown by officer Darren Wilson has decided today, November 24, there is not enough proof to indict the office in the murder of the 18-year-old.
Wilson, who is white, shot Brown multiple times in broad daylight on August 9, around noon as he and his friend, Dorian Johnson was walking down the street in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson. The town was rocked by the killing of the unarmed teen and protest broke out in the immediate aftermath of the shooting that led to some vandalisms and arrests.
The decision was announced by St. Louis County prosecuting attorney Robert McCulloch. He said the grand jury decided that not probable cause existed to indict the officer on any of the five possible charges (first-degree murder, second-degree murder, voluntary manslaughter, involuntary manslaughter or no charges) and no bill on all five accounts.
Both eyewitness testimony and physical evidence pointed to Brown being the aggressor including the presence of the teenager’s DNA and fingerprints in the officer’s vehicle and on his gun. Brown’s bloody body rested in the streets approximately five hours after his death. Than was taken away by officials.
McCulloch said that several eyewitnesses gave statements that were inconsistent with other statements they were made and also conflicting with physical evidence.
President Obama spoke after the announcement calling for a peaceful response to the decision both by the citizens of Ferguson and the officers calling for them to show restraint.
“First and foremost, we are a nation built on the rule of law. And we need to accept that this decision was the grand jury’s to make. There are Americans who agree with it, and there are Americans who are deeply disappointed, even angry. It’s an understandable reaction. But I join Michael’s parents in asking anyone who protests this decisions to do so peacefully,” he said.
“I appeal to the law enforcement officials in Ferguson and the region to show care and restraint in managing peaceful protests that may occur. They have a tough job to do to maintain public safety and hold accountable those who break the law.”
The President also echoed the words of Michael Brown’s father. “Let me repeat Michael’s father’s words: “Hurting others or destroying property 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 t incredible change, positive change, change that makes the St. Louis region better for everyone.”
The President concluded, “Michael Brown’s parents have lost more than anyone. We should be honoring their wishes,” he said.
In a statement released after officer Wilson’s no bill verdict, the Brown family said, “we are profoundly disappointed that the killer of our child will not face the consequence of his actions.”
Prosecutor McCulloch detailed the account of the officer and teen’s encounter. He said that during the incident, Wilson angled his vehicle to block the path of Brown and his friend. Two shots were fired while Wilson was still in his police car. Brown’s blood was found inside the vehicle. McCulloch said, referencing witnesses, that some kind of “tussling” or “tug of war” took place.
He added that Brown ran and Wilson went after him. McCullough said 10 shots were fired after the teen ran. And that Brown was hit seven or eight times.
In an internal affairs interview after the shooting, officer Wilson said Brown started the encounter by leaning into the squad car’s driver’s side door while he was still inside. Then the dispute turned physical. The officer said he tried to get his mace but was unable to reach it so he “drew his firearm and Brown managed to grab it,” he said.
“I was guaranteed he was going to shoot me. He had completely overpowered me while I was sitting in the car,” the officer said.
The grand jury had reached a decision in the early afternoon but officials didn’t release it to the public until 8:00 PM eastern standard time. McCulloch said the six hour delay in publicly announcing the grand jury decision in conjunction with his press conference was necessary to help curtail any melee that could occur and also to have the necessary patrol in place.
Several days before the anticipated grand jury decision came, Missouri’s Governor Jay Nixon called up the National Guard to come to Ferguson to come and help with policing and public safety.
Hours after the grand jury’ decision to free Wilson of any charges, there were reports of gun shots in the air by some of the protestor along with looting as well as several building burnings.
According to authorities, police made 29 arrests and at least 150 gunshots were heard and that the police didn’t fire at anyone.
The Associated Press reported a Walgreens was seen in flames and people were seen entering stores. And that a Little Caesar’s and a storage unite were among the builds that burned.
Federal authorities are still investigating officer Wilson which could bring civil rights charges.