Lawrence O’Donnell recently shared his perspective of the controversial “non-verdict” that enabled former Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson to walk free after killing 18-year-old Michael Brown. The grand jury’s decision was reportedly the result of a shocking mistake made by St. Louis County prosecutors. The MSNBC host blasted St. Louis assistant district attorney Kathy Alizadeh for relying on a law that is now considered unconstitutional. The 1979 Missouri statute in question refers to the use of excessive force by law enforcement, reports Raw Story.
According to the statute, officers were “justified in the use of such physical force as he or she reasonably believes is immediately necessary to effect the arrest or prevent the escape from custody.” However, in 1985, that law was deemed unconstitutional by the Supreme Court. The statute has not been effective in Missouri during her entire legal career.
So, O’Donnell is questioning why Alizadeh would even present the irrelevant information to the jury. O’Donnell stated that the information drastically lowered the standard by which Wilson could be judged. The unconstitutional statute would give Wilson the right to shoot as soon as Brown made an attempt to flee. So, any events that occurred after that moment would be considered null and void under the statute.
“She was handing them something that had not been law in Missouri during her entire legal career, but it was very helpful to Darren Wilson,” Lawrence said. “By handing the grand jury that unconstitutional law, the assistant district attorney dramatically lowered the standard by which Darren Wilson could be judged.”He also accused Alizadeh of “making it impossible” for Darren Wilson to be indicted.
“[Kathy] was telling the grand jury that Darren Wilson didn’t have to feel his life threatened at all by Michael Brown. She was taking the hurdle that Darren Wilson had to get over in his testimony, and flattening it. She was making it impossible for Darren Wilson to fail in front of this grand jury.”
The grand jury reportedly heard Wilson’s testimony while under the impression that the statute was effective, reports Chicago Defender.
“You will not find another legal proceeding in which jurors and grand jurors are simply handed a law, and then weeks later, handed a correction to that law,” O’Donnell said. “Then the grand jurors are simply left to figure out the difference in the laws by themselves. That is, actually, something you would do in a law class.”
A recent “Rewrite” of O’Donnell’s controversial segment has been shared on several news and media outlets and many viewers are now questioning the validity of the claims presented to the jury. Here’s what viewers have to say.
“Ummm…but Wilson didn’t shoot Brown for fleeing. He shot him for charging at him, after he broke Wilson’s eye socket,” one user said.
“The point you’re missing is that the prosecutor lowered the standard for reasonable force by erroneously giving the Grand Jury an unconstitutional statute to use as a guideline. Doesn’t matter if he was charging him or not (many have said he wasn’t). In the eyes of the GJ, he didn’t have to pose a threat at all. Pretty hard to indict with that kind of instruction, another viewer explained.
“Everyone agrees the facts were all over the place, but the law is not. The grand jury looks at the evidence and determines the facts. The law is given to them, and they are to apply that law to those facts that they determine. The overarching theme is that the prosecutor misinformed the jury on the law, lowering the standard Officer Wilson had to meet to show that he was justified,” another viewer argued.
What do you think about Kathy Alizadeh’s use of the unconstitutional statue? Share your thoughts.
[Image via YouTube]