A Ferguson, Missouri grand jury will not bring any criminal charges against Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson, 28. Wilson was under investigation for shooting Michael Brown, 18, on August 9, 2014. The decision was announced by a St. Louis County prosecutor, Robert McCulloch.
The case has inflamed racial tensions in the community — Officer Wilson was white, and Brown was black — and there have been numerous protests since the story broke, occasionally breaking into arson, assaults, and other violent acts. It was not in dispute by either side that Wilson shot Brown or that Brown was not armed at the time.
McCulloch opened his statement by expressing sympathy for Brown’s family, saying that regardless of the outcome, they lost a family member, and deserved sympathy for their loss. McCulloch described how the case had swept across social media, and had been subject to rampant”speculation,” conflicting eyewitness reports, and interference from protests. McCulloch called the 24 hour news cycle the “most significant challenge” in the case, along with rumors and incorrect information spreading across social media.
“Eyewitness statements must always be challenged and compared with the physical evidence,” said McCulloch, specifically addressing claims that Brown had been shot in the back or while running away, which were contradicted by the autopsy report showing that all bullet wounds were in the front of Brown’s body. McCulloch stated that multiple witnesses had changed or retracted stories.
The grand jury was made up of twelve members of the community, and had been appointed before the shooting occurred. They first met on August 20, and worked until reaching a decision Monday. McCulloch said they had heard about 70 hours of testimony from over 60 witnesses, examined all the physical evidence, and evaluated the law to decide whether the evidence supported a finding of probable cause that Wilson had committed any one of five different charges, ranging from first degree murder to involuntary manslaughter.
The grand jury’s deliberations took over two days, and returned no true bill on all five possible charges.
Earlier in the day, Missouri Governor Jay Nixon issued a statement after the St. Louis County prosecutor’s office had announced that the grand jury had reached a decision to release that day. Nixon pleaded with the public to remain calm and peaceful. “Our shared hope and expectation is that regardless of the decision, people on all sides show tolerance, mutual respect and restraint,” said Nixon. Officials closed area schools for Tuesday.
Both Wilson and Brown’s family were informed of the grand jury’s decision slightly ahead of time.
Breitbart News has reporters on the ground in Ferguson and will continue to follow this breaking news story.
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