Last night, at approximately 8:30 PM CT, the St. Louis County prosecutor, Robert McCulloch, made the announcement that the grand jury had reached a decision based on evidence, witness testimony and Officer Darren Wilson’s account, to not indict Wilson of four separate charges in the shooting and death of 18 year-old, Michael Brown. Evidence from the case was soon after released, including images of Wilson after the incident, photos of his vehicle and weapon, shell casings and photos from the scene. With no charges against him, the officer walks free, sparking a night of violence in the city of Ferguson and protests nation-wide.
The grand jury was made up of 7 men and 5 women, 9 of whom were White and 3 Black. They met 25 separate days over the course of 3 months, listening to 70 hours of testimony from 60 witnesses. The witnesses included medical examiners, experts on blood splatter, toxicology and firearms, all of which evaluated the evidence presented to them gathered at the scene. Over half a dozen witnesses who were at the scene confirmed Wilson’s testimony on the events that took place on August 9th. In a written testimony one witness wrote that Brown had his hands out with an attitude as Wilson stood by his vehicle, ordering him to stop. The witness then added, “Dang if that kid didn’t start running right at the cop like a football player. Head down.”
During his September 16th testimony of the case in front of a grand jury, Wilson recalled his fight in the squad car with Brown as the two wrestled over his weapon. Wilson had warned that he would shoot the teenager, but then stated that Brown taunted him, saying, “You’re too much of a p***y to shoot me.” The officer described his fear in the situation, afraid that the young man would get a hold of his weapon and use it against him. “I distinctly remember envisioning a bullet going into my leg. I thought that was the next step,” Wilson recounted. As he gained control of the weapon, Wilson discharged it at Brown, startling the both of them. He described Brown’s face after the first shot as, “it looks like a demon, that’s how angry he looked.” Evidence gathered at the scene referenced in the autopsy has supported the officer’s claim of shooting Brown at a close range. The official autopsy report stated the evidence of material found on the teen’s hand was “consistent with products that are discharged from the barrel of a firearm.”
The day after the shooting, Wilson was brought in to the St. Louis County police department to testify on what had happened that day. A full transcript was released of an interview between Wilson and a detective at the Bureau of Crimes Against Persons. Wilson had just left a sick call and received word on his radio about a robbery that took place in a local market. “I had heard on the radio that there was a stealing in progress from the Ferguson Market on West Florissant,” he stated. “Um, as I was driving out down Canfield westbound I observed two black males walking in the center of the roadway on the center yellow line.”
The officer goes on to describe how he approached Brown and his friend, Dorian Johnson, in the street asking them why they were not on the sidewalk. They answered that they were close to their destination and ignored the officer’s request to move from the street. Before engaging further, Wilson called for backup, hoping to keep their attention as long as it took for reinforcement to arrive in order to make the arrest. As he tried exiting his vehicle, Wilson testified that Brown pinned him in by pushing his weight on the door. As the fighting ensued inside the car, as blood splatter evidence confirms, the first round was shot, Wilson goes on to describe the final moments of Brown’s life.
“I was yelling at him to stop and get on the ground. He kept running and then eventually he stopped in this area somewhere,” described Wilson as he got out of his vehicle to apprehend Brown. The officer describes shooting multiple rounds in order to stop Brown. “During his first stride, he took his right hand put it under his shirt and into his waistband. And I ordered him to stop and get on the ground again. He didn’t; I fired, a, multiple shots. After I fired the multiple shots I paused for a second, yelled at him to get on the ground again, he was still in the same state.” Brown, he describes, continued to charge at him until he was 8-10 feet away when a round hit him in the head. The officer’s testimony was corroborated by evidence at the scene, which included shell casings found feet from Brown’s body and the trail of blood. Wilson called for backup again and within seconds multiple squad cars arrived blocking off the scene.
As Michael Brown’s shooter walks free, many have decried the non-indictment decision in the case as another example of a flawed justice system. Many around the country continued peaceful protests against the young man’s death, but the city of Ferguson appeared as a war zone after the grand jury’s announcement. Dozens of businesses were burned down, robbed and vandalized, including the store Brown robbed minutes before his death. Reporters were attacked on the ground and shots were fired throughout the night with one confirmed death and three wounded officers. Officer Darren Wilson is a free man, exonerated due to evidence and witness testimony coinciding with his account, but many wonder what goes through the mind of a man whose freedom has brought the country to a standstill.
By Abdirahman R. Mohamed
Photo courtesy of cactusbones – Flickr License