There’s a possibility the family of Michael Brown, the black teenager who was shot and killed by a Missouri police officer Darren Wilson last summer, will resort to suing him or the Ferguson Police Department after it was reported that the Justice Department didn’t find evidence for a civil rights case against him, legal experts said.
If Brown’s family decides to sue, they might “have a better chance of winning than the DOJ would,” Dan Greenberg, an attorney and president of the Advance Arkansas Institute in Little Rock, told Epoch Times.
He noted the DOJ “would have to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt” while the family “would only have to prove that Wilson was more likely than not liable.”
To initiate a federal prosecution, the DOJ would have to show that Wilson willfully deprived Brown of his civil rights. Experts have noted that proving whether an officer knowingly used more force than the legal limit is very hard to prove.
The question remains, however, is if Brown’s family will sue.
Trial attorney Page Pate, who has 20 years of experience, told Epoch Times the family “almost certainly will” sue.
“The standard for a civil case is much lower than a criminal case. All they have to show is negligence not any intent to kill,” Pate said. “Even if the civil case won’t win at trial, they are likely to get some sort of settlement.”
A source close to the FBI’s investigation into the Ferguson shooting told The New York Times the probe was completed. The DOJ, however, has not announced whether it will file a federal civil rights charge against Wilson.
Greenberg noted that claims Wilson was “cleared” of wrongdoing “is too strong.”
“The decision by the Justice Department probably means something slightly different: namely, that DOJ thinks it just doesn’t have the evidence necessary for conviction,” he stipulated.
The DOJ will is still conducting an investigation into the practices of the Ferguson police department, and they will look into alleged discriminatory practices among officers. Experts said the wider investigation would have more sweeping consequences than if Wilson were to face individual criminal prosecution.
The Justice Department has initiated roughly 20 such investigations of police departments during Holder’s tenure.
Justice Department lawyers were preparing a memo recommending against prosecuting Wilson, and that Holder — who is expected to leave his position within weeks — had not yet made a decision.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.