Ferguson Officer Unlikely to Have Civil Rights Charges Brought Against Him

Ferguson Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson is unlikely to have civil rights charges brought against him according to multiple news sources. Investigators from the United States Justice Department have, according to the Washington Post, all but concluded that there is not enough evidence to support a case against him. On Aug. 9, Darren Wilson shot and killed Michael Brown, an unarmed black teenager, in Ferguson, Missouri. In the days after the shooting, racial tension escalated drawing the attention of the Federal Government.

Witnesses in Ferguson claimed that Brown had not been the aggressor, but had in fact, been walking away from the officer with his hands up when he was shot. Protests broke out and the police responded with riot gear and tear gas. At this point, Attorney General Eric Holder Jr. went to St. Louis to try to bring calm to the officials, police and protestors. Holder promised that a civil rights investigation would take place. At this point, however, it looks like it won’t result in anything substantial. The shooting has had a lasting impact on the residents of Ferguson and on the nation. Protests have continued over what people see as a racial motivated killing. Multiple groups across the country have stood in solidarity with those protesting in St. Louis. It has also garnered international attention from groups like Amnesty International who sent a team to monitor for human rights violations and eventually called for investigations as well.

The police department in Ferguson is primarily white, while the populace is primarily black. Race relations were uneasy before the shooting. Tensions have remained high since the incident and are likely to stay that way now as people wait for the case to be reviewed by a grand jury. There is some disagreement among officials on the results of the investigation. Brian Fallon, spokesman for the Justice Department, called the Washington Post’s report on the result “irresponsible” and said that its basis was “idle speculation.” According to Fallon the case is still open. Officials from law enforcement disagreed. Under Federal law it is very difficult to bring charges against police for violating an individual’s constitutional rights. Intent must be proved. There has to be no reasonable doubt that the officer in question infringed on the person’s rights on purpose and with the intention of depriving him of them.

There are multiple accounts of the Ferguson shooting. According to Wilson, he killed Brown in self-defense. In the autopsy report there is inconclusive evidence that Brown might have fought Wilson for his gun. It also cannot prove that he did or did not have his hands raised when he was shot again. These two things directly conflict with eye-witness accounts and blur the evidence that would be necessary to prove that Wilson was acting “willfully.” There is also an investigation underway into the inner workings of the Ferguson Police Department. There are calls from multiple organizations for a complete reworking of the department and monitoring of its practices. Darren Wilson of the Ferguson Police Department may not have civil rights charges brought against him, but the effects of this incident are unlikely to go away in the near future.

By Clara Goode

Washington Post
Daily Mail
St. Louis Today
Photo courtesy of Paul Sableman – Flickr License