Despite early declaration of a state of emergency, calling in the National Guard, mobilizing police, being as prepared as law enforcement could be, the night of the grand jury decision was still a night of chaos and destruction, looting, teargas, burned police cars and burned buildings. But is that because citizens in Ferguson are uncivilized, frenzied and insane, possessed of a mob mentality stripping away all reason, are exactly what stereotype says they are: a group of black thugs looking for any excuse to loot, demolish property, blaming it on race, or is it because from day one, word one this case has been mishandled? From failing to release the officer’s name early on to failing to release the public record incident reports supposedly tying Brown to the convenience store robbery, the reason purported for pulling him over, never mind considering the circumstances, how high tensions already were ever letting that video see the light of day, from the disastrous press conference where the police chief didn’t seem to know the National Guard not him was in charge of Ferguson crowd control to fumbling why they released the video to begin with. Let’s not forget why the National Guard was brought in, to quell officers in riot gear, randomly waving guns, teargasing individuals on their own front lawns; all along there have been questions the about the integrity, the impartiality, the fairness of the grand jury proceedings. Anomalies pointed out left, right and center, questions about persecutor Bob McCulloch, his deep ties to police and possible bias. A personal history involving a violent crime committed by an African American, a prosecutorial history of not indicting police who injure, kill black suspects on the job, calls early on for him to recuse himself, which he did not; leak after leak after leak of grand jury information pointing to the distinct possibility justice would not be served at least in the form of charges filed. And then, lo and behold, no indictment, no bringing this officer before a jury to let them decide were his actions correct, were his actions justified leading to the pell-mell scenes depicted above. Matters not helped at all by the subsequent interview given by Darren Wilson where he states he feels remorse, but his conscience is clear, he still believes he followed his training, followed the law; comments incensing the public and mystifying Brown’s parents asking, how can your conscience be clear when you’ve killed someone, even in an accidental death? Just another slight to a community on edge, just intensifying underlying systemic problems that led us here; citizens who warned at the outset what the consequences would be if there was no indictment, at this point simply fulfilling their promise.
Now obviously threats of public retaliation should not be the sole reason to bring someone up on charges, makes them no better than biased police if that is the outcome of any situation, yet that scenario is conditioned on the threats of public retaliation having no merit, being used as a tactic to get what you want solely for the purpose of having your way. Rather than how the threat of public retaliation was used in Ferguson, to bring attention multiple wrongs visited on citizens there every day in a place the nation at large can’t find on a map, has never heard of, doesn’t know it should care about. Lining up with the mentality of protesters versus the mentality of officers, officials responsible for city operation, throughout the whole tragic incident from shooting, to protests, to grand jury proceedings, to currently their decision, Ferguson authorities have seen Michael Brown as the jumping off point, the start of massive civil unrest, property, business, goods destruction and outright chaos. The reality is Michael Brown was the straw that broke the camel’s back of a community kicked once too often by abuse of power, misuse of authority, over policing for petty offenses; indeed things seemed to be rotten in the city of Ferguson long before we heard the name Michael Brown, readily apparent racial profiling, city institutions designed to work against poorer citizens, African Americans, minorities there. Including but not limited to leveling exorbitant traffic fines against the poor, traffic and other lower courts meant to handle minor offenses, summons exc. only open sporadically say once a month, lack of childcare options, choices causing people to miss their court dates leading to further legal trouble, possible arrest, staggeringly disproportionate arrest rates, traffic stops pointing to blatant targeting of minorities, a nearly all white local government, city council, school board, not to mention police. Police who have a long history of complaints against them for harassment as high as one 10th of the department housing 53 officers, a department that has been under investigation before alleging the exact kind of behavior Ferguson residents are accusing them of now, excessive force, intimidation, harassment. Ferguson proving to be a microcosm for the entire country, an entire country fed up with losing black and brown young lives to an unrealistic perceived threat and petty offences that shouldn’t even necessitate arrest by overbearing, over militarized, trained in negotiation, de-escalation tactics, but always first reaching for their guns, cops. Enter Michael Brown and the eventual grand jury, a grand jury that took arguably twice as long to come to a decision than normalcy would dictate, a grand jury that still ultimately chose not to indict Darren Wilson. For the significance of that statement to truly sink in you have to first understand the purpose of a grand jury; the function of a grand jury is to determine, not guilt or innocence of the accused, like in a standard jury trial we all understand from television, but to decide if there is enough evidence to file charges against the accused, if there is enough evidence to warrant a jury trial. A trial where Wilson would have faced a jury of his peers, them deciding if his actions were acceptable or not; to that end persecutors carefully scrip what is allowed before that jury, so much so it has been said a good persecutor could indict a ham sandwich. Too immediately noted post the decision is how rare it is for grand juries not to indict when asked to by a prosecutor, in 2010 162,000 cases were brought to federal courts favoring indictment in all but 11, statistics mirrored at the state court level, where Wilson’s case was heard; legal analysts remarking how easy it is for prosecutors to receive an indictment if they want one, raising more red flags about process, prosecutorial motivation, potential lack thereof. Odder still, instead of standing up for the suddenly ended life of Michael Brown, seeking to take to trial the person deemed responsible for shooting Brown at minimum 6 times, rendering a fatal shot to the top of his head, this prosecutor seems to have put on more of a defense for Darren Wilson; presenting both the prosecutorial side of the case as well as the defense portions is both rare and presumably served little purpose outside confusing grand jurors about what their role was. Sadly for justice not the only thing that would go wrong.
Like every moment engulfing, entangling, end if the day, hindering the Brown case it appears this time to be procedural mistake after procedural mistake called, not at all out of line compiling information within public grasp, easily available to media, inquiring researchers, the state aiding and abetting in the murder of Michael Brown; the persecuting attorney, in an attempt to look fair and unbiased, dumped massive amounts of evidence on said grand jury where typically prosecutors only include those parts that will ensure prosecution, essentially burying them in incomprehensible minutia. He brought forth every witness, some who according to reports got on the stand admitting to not having seen anything to do with the shooting; facts other attorneys, namely those affiliated with the National Bar Association, which has contested the decision, say would cause a judge to dismiss the “witness” as they have to have some firsthand knowledge of events, to have seen something, heard something. Another witness with information to contribute stating to media he testified mere minutes and no one appeared interested in what he had to say contrasted against the circulated 4 hours Darren Wilson himself testified about what happened that day August 9th this year; an again rare occurrence because defendants don’t have a legal right to testify, persecutors usually don’t want them there, probably to avoid eliciting sympathy for the opposing side, and defendants, not the least of which their lawyers, don’t want to testify because it gives the state a preview of your defense and automatically means waving your 5th amendment rights. Realities Lisa Bloom illuminated to MSNBC’s Chris Hayes and anyone watching his program. Adding to the strangeness of the proceedings conducted in St. Louis County, rather than present his case as to why Wilson should be formally charged, brought to trial and on what charges he believes Wilson should face such legal scrutiny; he opted to name the grand jury an investigative jury thus leaving them to name any charges they deem appropriate. Forget these are ordinary citizens not lawyers who many have pointed out need instruction on what they are supposed to be doing; next members of the grand jury were also given pieces of information usually only given to trial jurors, not grand jury participants, in not one but two instances starting with guidelines and parameters on self-defense, for police to use deadly force and types of homicide, man slaughter when you don’t need to find an indictment, decisions out of the grand jury’s purview. Lending credence to the idea the system was rigged to favor Darren Wilson over the victim Michael Brown, either because he is white or because he is a police officer and the system, persecutor Bob McCulloch operates on the ill-conceived notion police are infallible. Lending credence to the increasing thought there was never any intention of actually indicting Darren Wilson; the lone reason for convening a grand jury in the first place was to silence public outcry, readily apparent in that the unusual proceedings utilized here, that should have played in Brown’s favor, didn’t. In the multitude of evidence pertaining to the case there should have been something indicating maybe everything isn’t right here, a jury should hear this and render their decision. Lastly when a decision had been reached, when Mr. McCulloch had to know what reaction it would provoke, he releases their findings at night when people don’t have to be at work, when they have nothing better to do than take to the streets, after dark when it is far easier to loot, riot, destroy property, when it is far easier to lose track of a large crowd due to reduced visibility, but the mess and unrest crippling the town is solely to be laid at the feet of unmanageable, unruly citizens, ocean front property in Arizona comes to mind. It is as it has always been handling what happened in Ferguson, country bumpkin Mayberry unpreparedness meets Duck Dynasty’s redneck philosophy playing out for the nation, the world to see, to massive embarrassment.
Surely if Mr. McCulloch called every witness then he called the plethora of ones who spoke out to nearly every national media outlet available, enough of them telling enough of the same story to prompt next to any sane person to find reason to send it to trial, enough to override those supposedly contradicting the forensics he alluded to in his press conference. Surely if he presented all the evidence available in the case as he said he did, again in the press conference announcing the grand jury’s decision, then he presented the given reason why Michael Brown was stopped by police, for jaywalking, he presented the whole story about the video perhaps showing Brown in the commission of a robbery weeks later, officials conflicting statements about why Brown was stopped, why the video was disseminated to the public, because it helps his case for indicting Wilson if the latter did this and his bosses are trying to cover his behind along with their own. If all the evidence was laid before a grand jury prior to them making up their mind, certainly cataloged were officer Wilson’s injuries, negligible bruises to his cheek and eye, his lip contrasted beside those given to Michael Brown sporting several bullet wounds to one arm, the tale tell shot to the top of his head, because, hard to forget, is there is a dead human being resulting from what should have been a simple stop, yet to be determined is was that death justified or criminal. And considering that compiled material, that evidence, you don’t find remember, not the guilt or innocence of Darren Wilson as to was he justified in shooting, firing the fatal shot killing Michael Brown, but only sufficient evidence to warrant a trial, to say a jury, apart from ourselves, should look into it; how can that be? Leading to the obvious question what their instructions, what were they told; what were they told that caused them not to bring to trial a man, police officer or no, who ended a younger man’s life over a misdemeanor offense? The secrecy, mystery swirling around how this singular grand jury was conducted only gets worse, only comes up with more evidence why we shouldn’t trust the system; some will call it liberal media spin but access to transcripts from the grand jury proceedings indicate two assistant D.A’s horribly misrepresented the law both in Missouri and on a federal level regarding the use of force pertaining to police officers and self-defense. Handing out statutes that haven’t actually been law for 30 years stating eye-popping-ly that, in short, all a suspect had to do to incur deadly force, enhance the chances they could be killed by police is run away, flee an officer of the law, no matter the reason; thus also handing the victory to Darren Wilson, making that grand jury within hearing distance believe they didn’t have to indict the now infamous officer. To be reminded information they shouldn’t have had/needed owing to they are not trial jurors, their job rather is to render a decision on the question is there probable cause to hold aforementioned trial. Compounding their utter incompetence for which those transcripts should get them permanently disbarred, when they attempted to correct their mistake, manufacture the illusion of correcting their mistake, they provided the current legal statute, provided new copy of accurate enforceable law, but didn’t tell jurors what was wrong, no longer legal about the previous statute they were handed, had been carrying around for weeks as part of their official papers; further when directly asked by a juror if federal law overrode Missouri law, one couldn’t answer a simple, truthful yes instead telling them not to worry about it, their cohort remarking they didn’t want to get into a law class. Screaming McCulloch either used the grand jury to go through the motions simulating justice, ultimately creating a convenient scapegoat blaming the lack of indictment on inconsistent, contradictory witnesses, witness testimony that openly contradicts physical, forensic evidence laid out or wasn’t watching his staff as they drastically fumbled the ball-getting justice for Michael Brown.
Meanwhile you have the Darren Wilson interview serving only to solidify public opinion he essentially got away with murder; at times appearing like his answers were scripted and others like he needed coaching from a media consultant to perhaps avoid that whole my conscience is clear comment completely. Calm, cool, collected, almost emotionless Wilson told ABC news the progression of events that day initially confronting Brown and his friend for walking in the middle of the street, Brown’s aggressive manner, use of expletives, looking at his hands noting the cigarillos connecting it to the stealing broadcast over the radio, putting in a call for backup, trying to exit his car asking Brown to approach, again being met with expletives, aggression then punches; when Brown briefly stops assaulting Wilson to allegedly hand off stolen mini cigars comes, among his more shocking statements- he was grabbed onto Brown “attempting to push him back,” in order to exit his car, and when he did so Wilson quote: felt like a 5 year old child holding on to Hulk Hogan. Granted Michael Brown was roughly 6’4 300lbs but Darren Wilson is also about 6’4 210lbs. and not a bean poll, meaning these two were mare evenly matched than you might think. Admitting in the interview circulated stories of him suffering a fractured eye socket stumbling around barely conscious were exaggerated and incorrect; describing his own injuries he mentions redness and swelling. Returning to events, next Wilson was hit again on the opposite side of his face fearing he would lose consciousness if hit again, in an altercation that is said to have lasted 90 seconds beginning to end; he considers his mace, rules it out knowing it would remove his vision as well as Brown’s due to his wearing contacts and the barrage of hands everywhere, cannot reach his police baton sitting down and trapped, elected not to carry a taser which is optional in this department, describing them as bulky, uncomfortable and inconvenient, leaving his gun. Which he states he pulled with one hand protecting his face with the other, told Brown to back up or he would shoot; Brown’s response, as told by Wilson, to put his hand over the gun saying the officer was “too much of a pussy to shoot him,” angle it down into the other man’s leg trying to maneuver his fingers to shoot the officer there. Elaborate descriptions of wiggling, manipulations of elbows now has the gun lined up with the silhouette of Brown, Wilson attempts to fire, gun doesn’t go off being jammed by Brown’s hand atop it, fingers the mechanism, gun eventual fires shattering the window glass; Brown backs up, both were startled. Brown is now angrier, more intense lunging back at, in the car forcing Wilson to protect his face; according to both interview and grand jury documents he describes Michael Brown as a demon in relation to the “intense” look the latter was giving to the former. They tussle again and Wilson combats a jammed gun getting it to fire, Brown runs, officer again radios into his walkie talkie this time shots fired and chases Brown; saying he chased Brown rather than staying in the car because his job isn’t to just stay in the car. Brown then stops turns toward the officer puts his hand in his waistband and begins to charge at Wilson; he said that no way did Brown have his hands up, contradicts evidenced audio saying he fired 3 short burst of shots in between telling Michael Brown to stop as he charged closer and closer to the officer, shots described as going right through him, expression vacant hollow. Around 8-10 feet away he fires the last shot; looking down the barrel of his gun seeing Brown’s head, firing “and that’s where it went.”
Problem while Wilson may have justification for a battery of charges against Brown stemming from what happened in the patrol car, an adequate explanation for the single shot that hit Brown during that exchange, it doesn’t explain why, if his intention was to keep a visual on Michael Brown awaiting backup, he didn’t do so using his patrol car putting one more barrier between him and the ridiculously aggressive Brown. It doesn’t explain how when Brown is reportedly punching him, sometimes having his head in the vehicle he didn’t just slam on the gas going forward or backward to dislodge him from the patrol car, subsequently putting him under arrest for assaulting a police officer, among other things? Even George Zimmerman could figure that out tailing Trayvon Martin through his own neighborhood; never mind a trained police officer. It doesn’t explain why he, according to the description of events, placement of his car, Brown and his friend in the street, parked his patrol car catawampus blocking the street in such a way limiting his ability to move his vehicle. Nor does it explain how he radioed his supervisor after shooting Brown if in the tussle his radio channel was changed causing them to never hear the shots fired call unless he adjusted it to the correct channel, actions not mentioned where he is otherwise meticulous with detail, hmmm. Simultaneously it is utterly fantastical to think that in 90 seconds amidst fear and panic, fear for your life you are going to be able to that easily catalog your options, possess such a rational train of thought, no matter how good your training, and for all his fear of his life it’s the injuries not present that are as telling as the ones that are. There was no broken jaw, no broken, chipped, lost teeth; he’s not suffering migraines resulting from blows to the head, blurred, double vision for the same reason. Frankly the girl making headlines for being lured to a friend’s house then beaten for it to be placed on YouTube as revenge for some slight suffered more injuries, long term effects than Wilson supposedly necessitating the killing of Michael Brown. Since sitting down with press he has chosen resigned from the Ferguson police department, so not only will there be no criminal trial by which the family, the nation can get justice, there will be no reprimand, no firing from his employer. Speaking of employers, supervisors, those in charge of police, one thing that interview did well was point to issues well outside of Wilson himself; maybe it wasn’t about race for Wilson rather a product of the endemic struggles Ferguson has been trying to get someone to pay attention to. Beginning with if Wilson indeed called for backup alerting dispatch he was in the street with 2 people, possibly needing to make an arrest, where was it; where was anyone checking in on him to insure things had not escalated, he hadn’t been cut off from his radio? Further this situation embodies why police officers shouldn’t to be allowed to wear contacts as beat cops, if mace enhances a profound loss of vision, reinforces that no non-lethal means should be called optional. I myself have written extensively about the danger posed by tasers, but A-many of those concerns could be addressed with proper training and B- a taser would have allowed at lease the opportunity for us to be talking about the injuries of Michael Brown instead of the death of Michael Brown. Because, protests aside, race aside, public opinion supporting either the officer or Brown aside, the penalty for jaywalking is a ticket, a fine; repeat offenses, failure to pay fines resulting in a summons to appear before a judge, perhaps 30 days in county lock up in extreme cases, not execution in the street by cop who let things get way out of control. The penalty for petty theft, strong armed robbery is a charge for petty theft, strong armed robbery to go before a jury, if found guilty sentence to be determined; the penalty for resisting arrest/fleeing police, assaulting a police officer is a charge for resisting arrest/fleeing police, assaulting a police officer, the latter graded on extent of injury, severity of situation, again placed before a jury, if found guilty sentence assigned at a later date. Not death, death without determination of guilt or innocence, death without due process, death disproportionate to the crime committed; death essentially turning cops into judge, jury and executioner during split second, high intensity situations, without weighing all the evidence, death you can’t take back.