In Ferguson, many mistakes were made that could have lead to a different outcome. First, a grand jury didn’t necessarily need to be convened. County prosecutors can simply bring charges against an individual by going directly to a judge to issue a warrant for arrest, something County Prosecutor Bob McCulloch has done many times (with the exception of cases involving police officers).
McCulloch has protected the police at every opportunity. When serving as a prosecutor before a grand jury in 2001, McCulloch openly supported the officers he was supposed to be pursuing an indictment towards, stating in reference to the two people killed by the police “These guys are bums.” McCulloch added, “The print media and self-appointed activists have been portraying the two gentlemen as folk heroes and have been vilifying the police.” A former attorney who worked with him stated, “I know that he is very pro-police officer.”
The prosecutor’s mother, father, brother, nephew, and cousin worked for the Ferguson PD. In August, when the police harassed and arrested journalists, deployed military weapons on protesters and had several police officers resign, McCulloch lashed out at the governor for taking the side of the police, “For Nixon to never talk to the commanders in the field and come in here and take this action is disgraceful. To denigrate the men and women of the county police department is shameful.”
We now know that Darren Wilson’s gun was never dusted for fingerprints. Wilson washed away blood evidence immediately after the incident, the first officer who interviewed Wilson didn’t take any notes, and no pictures were taken of the crime scene by investigators because the investigator claimed they “had dead batteries.” Wilson never released an incident report and the death wasn’t ruled a homicide for ten days. Wilson was never cross examined and never took a lie detector test.
Wilson’s justification for the shooting depends on him feeling as though he was in grave danger, a fact at odds with the medical report. The medical report taken the day of the shooting stated, “The doctor does not believe you injured essential organs.” The same report indicated Wilson had one bruise and concluded, “The doctor has determined that you do not have any other serious injuries and that it is safe for you to go home.”
Wilson’s testimony describes an altercation where Michael Brown was reaching through his car window to grab his gun. Forensics show this was indeed the case. It was here Brown was shot several times. According to the testimony of numerous witnesses, including Wilson’s, Brown then fled. It was during this point that Brown was shot multiple times. From the forensics reports, we know several of the shots grazed him. It was presumably at this point Brown turned back around to face Wilson. Wilson claims Brown was about to charge him despite being wounded. What is more likely is that Brown was preparing to surrender. Why would someone shot multiple times decide to charge head first toward the shooter?
All a grand jury is doing is seeing if there is enough probable cause to bring charges. It is not a case that decides if someone is guilty or not. The facts outlined above surely constitute probable cause. The grand jury in this case was misled by a biased prosecutor who never wanted an indictment.