Let’s start with the St. Louis County Prosecutor, Robert McCulloch who decided to convene a grand jury to consider whether to indict the Caucasian police officer, Darren Wilson who shot an African American, unarmed young man, Michael Brown on August 9, 2014 in Ferguson, Missouri. On the evening of 11/24/2014, around 9:oo PM and after many months, TV viewers and others observed the surreal performance of the prosecutor holding a press conference to announce the jurists’ finally coming to a verdict in favor of the police officer, Mr. Wilson.
He took this step without having informed the Missouri Governor Jay Nixon of his intentions which explains why the national guard troops were not prepared and present in Ferguson when businesses, vehicles and other structures were being burned, looted and vandalized by angry, out of control individuals, upset over grand jury’s decision to not indict Officer Wilson. His manner in stating his justifications for over twenty minutes appeared to mirror his feelings at to how unfairly he and the police believe they have been treated by the press and multiple other critics. His worldview cannot fathom how those actions were part of a continuum by which the Ferguson community felt under siege, misunderstood, mistreated and devalued for too many years by local law enforcement agencies.
I am thinking this way because frankly, I can’t figure out why he did this when there were so many sensible ways to better handle this news event to mitigate the easily foreseeable negative outcomes such as verifying that the 2000 plus National Guard soldiers were in place to protect the local businesses and protesters before formally sharing the verdict. He could have notified the pastors and leaders in the community so they could have been ready to assist in managing the local crowds. Cameras could have been placed in various business locations to help capture any perpetrators vandalizing stores during the day.
Then there is what the prosecutor verbalized at the news conference. In short, he indicated that one reason the jurists rendered a “no true bill” decision not to charge Officer Wilson with murder was because of all the conflicting witness statements. Scholarly studies have repeatedly proven that eye witness testimonies often differ. Typically, trial and grand juries do not hear from all the possible eye witnesses because many who come forward are obviously not credible. There is no way that prosecutors and defense attorneys will not vet eye witnesses to separate out those who are patently unbelievable before they are put in a position to testify, especially if they want to win. It is apparent that this grand jury heard from all witnesses who came forward without any being subject to a minimal vetting process. In the real world, there are very few trials without the jurors having to weigh among conflicting witness testimonies to determine what’s true, what makes common sense, what testimony is consistent with the physical evidence. Also, Prosecutor McCulloch commented at length as to the veracity of all of the witnesses which could possibly impact future judicial activities.
For Prosecutor Robert McCulloch, the strategy of conducting the grand jury, partly as a trial to review the evidence regarding Officer Wilson, performs multiple functions. One is for him to follow his heart by being supportive and fair to local law enforcement while striving to display a good faith, impartial stance by sharing all possible evidence with the jurors and the public with the exception of the names of the jurors, their trial notes and their personal information beyond demographic data such as race and age. The other is to protect the identities of the jurors for their safety and desire for privacy. In addition, the prosecution’s office is well aware of the (DOJ), independent Department of Justice’s parallel investigation that is being conducted. Thus, he must maintain the appearance of being even handed and fair to all parties while trying to do everything possible to limit damage to the police department. After all, he grew up in a police family with his Dad having been fatally shot in the line of duty. It is my belief that the Missouri Governor, Jay Nixon would have done himself and all of us, a favor if he had the courage to assign a special prosecutor.
I will be delving into all the evidence reviewed by the grand jury and made public at the direction of Prosecutor McCulloch’s office before I blog about inconsistencies. However, I will also be looking for how different issues were handled which includes whether those in the grand jury were notified of the 1985 Supreme Court decision Of Tennessee vs. Garner. The Supreme Court held: “The Tennessee statute is unconstitutional insofar as it authorizes the use of deadly force against, as in this case, an apparently unarmed, non dangerous fleeing suspect; such force may not be used unless necessary to prevent the escape and the officer has probable cause to believe that the suspect poses a significant threat of death or serious physical injury to the officer or others. Pp. 497 U. S. 7-22. This ruling applies to all states and supersedes any state law statutes indicating anything different.
The other question that I have after watching various TV hosts talking to the witness, Dorian Johnson who was the young man accompanying Michael Brown and who witnessed the shooting. He states that Michael Brown did hit the Police Officer’s face with an open palm which matches up with the pictures of Officer Wilson with a slight reddish bruise on the right side of his face, taken post shooting. Some TV commentators have reported that it is Officer Wilson’s testimony that he was hit two times hard in his face with closed fists by Michael Brown. If I verify this to be true, then this is a major hole in his story when compared to the photo evidence.
I will be reading documents to better understand how Dorian Johnson could believe that he saw Michael Brown being shot in the back which is inconsistent with the physical evidence. The explanation by itself, that Dorian Johnson felt extreme trauma on 8/9/2014, which could color his recall meets the common sense test of most folks without him having his truth, being unfairly challenged.
Also, after Michael Brown was shot in his right hand when he ran away from the police officer’s car, as per Officer Wilson’s 8/10/2014 formal statement provided to a detective, the police officer was still in his vehicle and not in any danger. As per the 1985 Supreme Court decision, Tennessee vs. Garner, the officer should have waited in his car for the back up that he states he requested.
As per excerpts from the August 10, 2014 deposition, (page 9) that Police Officer Darren Wilson attended for an interview with Detective xxxx of the St Louis County PD Of Crimes Against Persons, he states the following:
“Um, he ran east on Canfield. I excited my vehicle and I said, “shots fired.” Send me more cars. It wasn’t found till later, my radio had been switched in the struggle..to channel three. ..Our main channel is channel one…he runs from this intersection where I originally told you towards this entrance to this parking lot.” At this point, Officer Wilson should have remained with his SUV and waited for back up, as per the Supreme Court ruling in Tennessee vs. Garner which holds that an armed police officer cannot pursue a fleeing suspect unless he or others are in imminent danger.
I will be reading all the evidence reviewed by the grand jury and made public before I blog more about inconsistencies. I am footnoting below, where readers can peruse some of the evidence in an NPR Report posted 11/25/2014 and an evidence link on St. Louis Public Radio. Also, I am adding links to Thanksgiving blogs (11/27/2014) below. Benjamin Watson, the football player has written about his feelings on the Michael Brown case. The Obmacrat.com blog has listed Ferguson charitable organizations that folks can assist with donations.
St. Louis Public Radio www. stlpublicradio.org /KWMU NFL Player Benjamin Watson Reflects on Ferguson in Viral Facebook Post
Glide confirms time of “gunshots” recording in Ferguson, MO …upstart.bizjournals.com/…/glide-confirms-…South Florida Business Journal Aug 29, 2014 –