NEW YORK—When the St. Louis grand jury announced there was “no probable cause” to indict police officer Darren Wilson who had shot dead Michael Brown, the family of Eric Garner was in tears. Their son was choked to death by an officer in Staten Island this past July and they had been in solidarity with Brown’s family.
Rev. Al Sharpton said on Monday night with Garner’s family beside him that he had known an indictment was unlikely, but it was “still an absolute blow to those of us who wanted to see a fair and open trial.”
“Even when you see a blow coming and you expect it, it still hurts nonetheless,” he said.
The crowd in the National Action Network office in Harlem shouted their agreement. When the decision played on television for them, many in the audience booed, some shaking their head in indignation. Others muttered, “Wow, seriously?”
Sharpton countered the argument presented by prosecuting attorney Robert McCullough. McCullough said that the evidence showed that Brown had been shoplifting cigarillos and that in Missouri, it was legal to shoot at a fleeing felon.
“You are trying to describe a shoplifter as a fleeing felon,” he said.
It was apparent to him, he said, “what you need for civil rights charges and what you need for justice charges are separate.”
It was said that Wilson was attending an emergency call. After, it was said Brown matched a suspect description as wearing a red Cardinal hat, khaki shorts, and yellow socks. Brown had also advanced toward Wilson before the officer fired more shots, witnesses reported to officials, said McCullough.
McCullough refused to give away more details about the anonymous witnesses and grand jury members, except for sex and race. Some of the witnesses who observed Brown advance toward Wilson were African-American, he said.
Sharpton expressed doubt about the witnesses, suggesting that one of them was Wilson, and he didn’t know how many of them were Wilson.
“Let me be clear though, we are dealing with the same thing in New York,” said Sharpton, who mentioned the shooting of Akai Gurley, a 28-year-old man who was unarmed and recently shot dead in an apparent accident by a police officer in a stairwell in Brooklyn.
Protesters in Union Square agreed with the sentiment. When they heard of the decision, they marched through University Place toward Times Square in a demonstration of anger. They were followed by a group of police officers and six police vehicles.
“No justice for Mike Brown!” they shouted.