The St. Louis County prosecutor announced in a press conference Monday evening that Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson won’t face charges in the fatal shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown. Prosecutor Bob McCulloch began his statement stating that Michael Brown’s family were the ones who suffered having lost a loved one to violence.
He explained how this Grand Jury was selected in May of 2014, long before the shooting. McCulloch went on to say the 24 hour news cycle and the media and public’s insatiable appetite for details lead to great frustration and inaccurate accounts of the incident being repeated.
McCulloch went on to make it very clear that some eye-witness testimonies are extremely conflicting with each other, and with the physical evidence. Grand Jury members listened to 60 witnesses testifying for over 70 hours, along with 3 medical examiners and hundreds of photographs from the crime scene. “The duty of a Grand Jury is to separate fact from fiction”.
The Saint Louis County Prosecuting Attorney then gave a detailed account of August 9th. Officer Darren Wilson was responding to a crime in progress and was given a brief description of the suspect. Black male, red hat, yellow socks and white shirt.
The decision came 108 days or more than three months after the Aug. 9 shooting of Michael Brown, and is already causing large scale protests in Ferguson as well as across the country. From New York’s Union Square, to Chicago’s Police Department and Los Angeles to name a few.
On the evening of Thursday November 20th five protesters were arrested in front of the Ferguson police station after several dozen protesters blocked traffic lanes.
Michael Brown’s father released a video urging for calm and 4 and-a-half minutes of silence no matter what decision the grand jury makes.
President Obama made a similar statement on Friday November 21, “First and foremost, keep protests peaceful. This is a country that allows everybody to express their views, allows them to peacefully assemble, to protest actions that they think are unjust, but using any event as an excuse for violence is contrary to rule of law and contrary to who we are.”
The grand jury had deliberated whether Wilson faced any of the following charges: first-degree murder, second-degree murder, voluntary manslaughter and involuntary manslaughter.
The 12 person jury consisted of six white men, three white women, two black women and one black man. At least nine of them had to agree in order for charges to be filed.
The only witnesses known to have appeared in front of the Grand Jury, are Wilson and Dr. Michael Baden, who performed a private autopsy on Brown on behalf of his family. But other witnesses and experts may also have appeared.
Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon declared a state of emergency last Monday November 17, and activated the National Guard.
Protesters asked police to agree to 19 “rules of engagement”, law enforcement officials agreed to some, but not all of the protesters request in a press conference held on Friday.
FBI has dispatched about 100 personnel to the Saint Louis area on Friday, and arrested 2 Black Panthers members involved in an alleged bomb plot. Also many ATF agents have been deployed.