DOJ will not charge Ferguson officer in Michael Brown shooting
FERGUSON, Mo. – Justice Department will not bring federal charges against former Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson in the shooting of Michael Brown, officials announced Wednesday.
“There is no evidence upon which prosecutors can rely to disprove Wilson’s stated subjective belief that he feared for his safety,” a Justice Department criminal investigation found.
No reliable evidence proves that Brown had his hands up when he was shot, the investigation found.
In the meantime, the future of the Ferguson Police Department remained unclear as the Missouri city waited for the formal release of the Department of Justice report showing that blacks were subjected to a pattern of excessive force and harassment.
Many details of the report began leaking Tuesday as federal officials met with local leaders. A summary of the report revealed police patterns of racial bias toward African Americans across the criminal justice system in Ferguson, from encounters with patrol officers to treatment in the municipal court and jail.
Black drivers, for example, are far more likely to be searched than white motorists, even though they’re less likely to be found with illegal substances. Nearly all people kept at the city jail for more than two days are black and the overwhelming majority of cases of police force involved African Americans.
The report was ordered in the wake of the fatal shooting of an unarmed black man, Michael Brown, by a white police officer, Darren Wilson, on Aug. 9, 2014. The first wave of protests, which at times turned violent, came in the weeks after the shooting, and a second wave came in November after a grand jury decided not to bring any charges against Wilson, who has since left the force.
There were no protesters in front of the Ferguson police headquarters early Wednesday, but the main street was still marked by the nights of turmoil that followed the grand jury decision — more than a dozen storefronts are still boarded up. Uplifting slogans, from “Ferguson strong” to “An injustice anywhere is injustice everywhere” and “Community” were visible.
Darren Seals, 27, just coming off the night shift at a General Motors plant Wednesday morning, said that after hearing about the Justice Department report he’s convinced the police department should be shut down.
“I don’t see no other way,” Seals said. “You can’t improve that. How are they going to improve their hearts, their intentions? You need an entirely new police force. I mean, look at how they treated the protesters. They haven’t done the right thing in all this time, they’re not going to do it now.”
Bradley Rayford, 22, a junior at St. Louis Community College Florissant Valley, was among those who met with Atty. Gen. Eric H. Holder Jr. last summer when he visited Ferguson in the wake of Brown’s shooting.
“I’m just glad people know it happened. The question is what can you do about it now? What can you start to change about the culture in the police department? The culture is going to be hard to change. So I’m interested to see what happens going forward,” Rayford said.
The Brown family was in town Wednesday but did not plan to make any statements about the Justice Department report, said family attorney Anthony Gray.
“Clearly it’s not enough,” Gray said of the report. “The family has always felt that a crime occurred on Aug. 9 and the officer should be held accountable.”