The Ferguson Grand Jury decision has been announced: no indictment for Officer Darren Wilson. The Grand Jury reached a decision at about pm CST on Monday, but delayed the announcement until later in the evening. At 8:16pm, the prosecuting attorney stepped before the press to make his announcement.
The Grand Jury had been convened on August 20th to determine whether to charge Wilson in the shooting death of Michael Brown in August. The case has been a contentious one, with Wilson saying that Brown fought for control of his gun, and several witnesses saying that Brown had his hands up in surrender when he was shot.
After the initial announcement on Monday that the Grand Jury’s decision had been reached, businesses began to close down and board up storefronts, and school closings were announced for Tuesday, including Ferguson-Florissant and others in the area, according to KSDK.
Prosecuting Attorney McCulloch took a moment before announcing the Grand Jury’s decision to extend sympathies to the family, recap the series of events, and to thank local, state, and Federal law enforcement agencies for their cooperation together. He also took a moment to condemn the news and social media for the sharing of rumors, and spread of information, which he says were the biggest barrier to a determination.
He went on to say that eyewitness accounts often conflicted with evidence, suggesting that the media and shared stories contributed to this confusion. However, he assured that the Grand Jury was able to tell which witnesses were credible, saying that they could tell whose stories stayed consistent, and were consistent with the evidence.
Explaining that the Jury was given a variety of options for charges, McCulloch explained that the question was largely whether there was probable cause to believe that Darren Wilson was the primary aggressor, or whether he was justified in shooting for the sake of protection and in the line of duty. No probable cause exists, the Grand Jury decided, to charge Darren Wilson with any crime.
Michael Brown’s family has requested a 4.5 minute moment of silence in their son’s memory after the announcement. Many of the protesters promised early in the afternoon to respect this request before returning to protest. As the evening wound on, many of the protest leaders and organizers spoke out to call for protests to be done in a peaceful manner, and for everyone to work together, no matter what the verdict, to move forward for a world where profiling of young black men is not a norm, and where the public, and black communities, feel more able to trust law enforcement.
According to STL Today, Prosecuting Attorney Robert P. McCulloch has promised to release Grand Jury documents regardless of whether a judge approves the release. This information includes testimony, evidence documents, and video and photo evidence. McCulloch requested permission to share this material earlier in the month, but says he will do so with or without that permission.
In the wake of the Grand Jury decision, it’s clear that emotions and tensions are high, but it can be hoped that anyone (protester or otherwise) who considers violent action tonight will be held back by the sheer quantity of television cameras, witnesses, and publicity.[photo credit: Stephen D. Melkisethian]