Darren Wilson will reportedly avoid being charged with federal civil rights violations following an investigation by the U.S. Justice Department.
Wilson is the Ferguson, Missouri, police officer who fatally shot unarmed teenager Michael Brown on August 9, a case which dominated the headlines for months thereafter.
On November 24, a St. Louis grand jury declined to bring criminal charges against Wilson, who claimed he acted in self-defense. Wilson has since resigned from the police force.
Wilson could have been indicted for first-degree murder, second-degree murder, or manslaughter. Prosecutor Bob McCulloch made the announcement about the grand jury’s “no bill” in an unusual, nationally and internationally televised nighttime press conference
As extensively covered in the media, rioting occurred in Ferguson after the grand jury’s decision to bring no indictment, along with “hands up, don’t shoot” protest marches across the country.
“The shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown last August led to months of sometimes violent protests in Ferguson and galvanized critics of the treatment by police and the U.S. criminal justice system of blacks and other minority groups,” Reuters explained.
According to a report today in The New York Times, Wilson is likely to be cleared by the Obama Justice Department.
The Justice Department has begun work on a legal memo recommending no civil rights charges against a white police officer in Ferguson, Mo., who killed an unarmed black teenager in August, law enforcement officials said… The investigation by the F.B.I., which is complete, found no evidence to support civil rights charges against the officer, Darren Wilson, the officials said.”
Attorney General Eric Holder will make the final decision before he leaves office once the U.S. Senate confirms his successor. Holder’s agency is continuing its probe of the Ferguson police department, however, and policy and operational changes in how cops there go about their jobs are expected.
The feds reportedly interviewed about 200 persons with knowledge of the case, reinspected evidence, analyzed cellphone content, and conducted a new autopsy of Brown.
The federal investigation did not uncover any facts that differed significantly from the evidence made public by the authorities in Missouri late last year, the law enforcement officials said. To bring federal civil rights charges, the Justice Department would have needed to prove that Officer Wilson had intended to violate Mr. Brown’s rights when he had opened fire and that he had done so willfully — meaning he knew that it was wrong to fire, but did so anyway.
At the time the grand jury rendered its decision, Darren Wilson’s attorney insisted that “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…”
Citing various issues that emerged in the grand jury transcript, earlier this month the NAACP called upon St. Louis County Circuit Judge Maura McShane to impanel a new grand jury or appoint a special prosecutor to reopen the Michael Brown case on the state level.
Are you surprised that ex-Officer Darren Wilson will apparently face no civil rights charges?