Grand jury won’t indict officer in Michael Brown death
A grand jury has decided not to indict the Missouri police officer whose August killing of an unarmed black teenager sparked months of protests. St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Robert McCulloch announced the jury’s decision at an evening press conference Monday.Residents of Ferguson, Missouri, have been on edge for months as jurors deliberated the facts behind Michael Brown’s death at the hands of Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson.
Wilson shot and killed the unarmed Brown, 18, on Aug. 9. Police say Wilson, who is white, struggled with Brown over his service weapon before firing the fatal shots. Others, including Brown’s family and some witnesses, say Brown was running away, or surrendering with his hands up, at the time of his death.
Michael Brown’s family released a statement immediately following the announcement:
We are profoundly disappointed that the killer of our child will not face the consequence of his actions.
While we understand that many others share our pain, we ask that you channel your frustration in ways that will make a positive change. We need to work together to fix the system that allowed this to happen.
Join with us in our campaign to ensure that every police officer working the streets in this country wears a body camera.
We respectfully ask that you please keep your protests peaceful. Answering violence with violence is not the appropriate reaction.
Let’s not just make noise, let’s make a difference.
McCulloch spoke for several minutes before announcing the decision, cataloging the state’s evidence presented during the three-month process.“Physical evidence does not change because of public pressure or personal agenda,” he said.
Late Monday night, St. Louis Public Radio began uploading the grand jury testimony, evidence and witness interviews.
In the days following Brown’s death, protesters took to the Ferguson streets for marches that were often peaceful, but sometimes turned violent. Law enforcement alleged that some protesters were rioting and looting, while activists claimed police used excessive force.
Speculation swirled throughout the days leading up to the decision; information leaked in dribs and drabs from the courthouse’s closed doors as activists and ordinary citizens alike tried to predict, and prepare for, any verdict.
Earlier this month, Gov. Jay Nixon announced a multi-agency contingency plan for the moments and days immediately following the decision. Saying he expected peaceful protests, he nonetheless made clear the state was prepared to respond to violence.
Last week Nixon declared an official state of emergency, which will allow him to activate the National Guard.“My hope and expectation is that peace will prevail,” Nixon said. “But I have a responsibility to plan for any contingency that might arise.”
Nixon employed the National Guard during the first waves of protests following Brown’s death. County police also stockpiled riot gear and non-lethal crowd dispersal tools, such as tear gas and rubber bullets.
Anthony D. Gray, a lawyer for the family, repeated the family’s plea to remain peaceful. “As a lawyer for the family, and on behalf of the family, I reiterate for the umpteenth time — and they wanted me to make it crystal clear — they do not advocate any violence, any looting, any rioting,” he said at a press conference Friday.
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