Editor's note: This post has been updated
After a lengthy deliberation period, the Grand Jury has decided not to charge Officer Darren Wilson in the shooting death of Michael Brown on any of the charges he potentially faced. The grand jury could have brought charges of first-degree murder, second-degree murder, voluntary manslaughter, or involuntary manslaughter against Officer Wilson (via NYT):
St. Louis County prosecutor, Robert P. McCulloch, at a news conference packed with reporters from around the world. The killing, on a residential street in Ferguson, set off weeks of civil unrest — and a national debate — fueled by protesters’ outrage over what they called a pattern of police brutality against young black men.
The grand jury’s meetings took place over almost three months in a county building in Clayton, Mo., outside St. Louis. Two assistant county prosecutors, Sheila Whirley and Kathi Alizadeh, presented the evidence.
Mr. McCulloch, the St. Louis County prosecutor, directed his staff to present “absolutely everything” to the grand jury, meaning that the jurors would see and hear more evidence than they would have normally.
He was under considerable pressure in the case, facing widespread calls to recuse himself and be replaced by a special prosecutor after opponents cited what they called flawed investigations in the past involving police officers.
McCulloch said that all transcripts and audio recording, including the one featuring the final 10 shots fired by Officer Brown, would be released. He also stressed how the 12 jurors poured their “hearts and souls” into this case when presented all the evidence, put their lives on hold, and stayed past their pre-determined time to resolve this case. He also mentioned that there were African-American witnesses that saw Michael Brown charging at Officer Wilson at the time of his death.
All interviews were recorded; some witness accounts were discredited since it was determined that they weren’t present at the scene of Michael Brown’s death. They were either running for cover or reiterating what they heard from around their respective neighborhoods.
In other cases, McCulloch said some witnesses made “statements inconsistent with other statements they had made and also conflicting with the physical evidence. Some were completely refuted by the physical evidence.”
He noted that no perjury charges would be filed against those whose witness accounts ended up being inaccurate.One of those inaccuracies was the report that Brown was shot in the back by Wilson; the autopsy results found no gunshot wounds on Brown’s back.
Officer Wilson fired a total of 12 shots; Brown sustained his first wound in his hand, and the last was the shot to his head, according to McCulloch.
As for how the jurors voted, we don’t know if it was unanimous; that information is kept secret.
Officer Wilson has released a statement via his legal team on the Grand Jury’s decision:
Today, a St. Louis County grand jury released its decision that no charges would be filed in the case involving Officer Darren Wilson. From the onset, we have maintained and the grand jury agreed that Officer Wilson’s action on August 9 were in accordance with the laws and regulations that govern the procedures of an officer.
In a case of this magnitude, a team of prosecutors rightfully presented evidence to this St. Louis County grand jury. This group of citizens, drawn at random from the community, listened to witnesses and heard all the evidence in the case.
Based on the evidence and witness testimony, the grand jury collectively determined there was no basis for criminal charges against Officer Wilson.
Law enforcement personnel must frequently make split-second and difficult decisions. Officer Wilson followed his training and followed the law.
We recognize that many people will want to second-guess the grand jury’s decision. We would encourage anyone who wants to express an opinion do so in a respectful and peaceful manner.
On a side note, Officer Wilson would like to thank those who have stood by his side throughout the process. This continued support is greatly appreciated by Officer Wilson and his family.
Moving forward, any commentary on this matter will be done in the appropriate venue and not through the media.
Michael Brown’s family released this statement on the decision:
UPDATE: NAACP responds:
From Cornell William Brooks, NAACP President and CEO:
“The NAACP stands with citizens and communities who are deeply disappointed that the grand jury did not indict Darren Wilson for the tragic death of Michael Brown, Jr. We stand committed to continue our fight against racial profiling, police brutality and the militarization of local authorities. The death of Michael Brown and actions by the Ferguson Police Department is a distressing symptom of the untested and overaggressive policing culture that has become commonplace in communities of color all across the country. We will remain steadfast in our fight to pass the End Racial Profiling federal legislation. And we stand in solidarity with peaceful protesters and uphold that their civil rights not be violated as both demonstrators and authorities observe the “rules of engagement.” The grand jury’s decision does not mean a crime was not committed in Ferguson, Missouri, nor does it mean we are done fighting for Michael Brown, Jr. At this difficult hour, we commend the courage and commitment of Michael Brown's family, as well as local and national coalition partners."
UPDATE II: Photos of Officer Wilson after Michael Brown shooting have been released.
UPDATE III: Via RebelPundit, video of Michael Brown’s mother, Lesley McSpadden, reacting to the grand jury’s decision to not indict Officer Wilson over the death of her son. [WARNING: Strong language]
UPDATE IV: President Obama held a presser on the Ferguson grand jury decision at 10pm last night. As Dan wrote, Obama said,"we need to accept that this decision." He also said, "we are a nation built on the rule of law."
DUDE: Prior to the McCulloch's presser detailing the grand jury's decision, CNN contributor Donna Brazile said that Michael Brown was "shot and murdered."