The grand jury in St. Louis County, Missouri returned no true bill of indictment against Police Officer Darren Wilson in the death of Michael Brown. The county prosecutor made a long speech afterward. In it he made one thing crystal clear: the evidence did not support a murder charge or even a manslaughter charge.
Grand jury finds no evidence
Early reports came from television news and from Jason Sickles, reporter for Yahoo! News. In addition, Prosecutor Robert McCullough gave a lengthy press conference after the grand jury announced their decision. Fox News Channel, CNN, Bloomberg TV, Al-Jazeera America, the One America Network, and MSNBC, among others, carried it live. (The “Alphabet Soup Networks,” that is, ABC-TV, CBS-TV, and NBC-TV, did not. Neither did PBS.)
McCullough decided to lay all the evidence before the grand jury, because so many people in the community had such strong feelings about the case. But McCullough did not “take a stand” and ask the grand jury to indict Wilson.
In his press conference me set out five different charges they could have brought. They included murder in the first and second degrees, and voluntary and involuntary manslaughter. The grand jury declined to indict on any charge.
McCullough made clear only a weak case existed against Wilson. Witnesses told different stories. Several witnesses stuck to their stories even when the evidence ran against those stories. McCullough also condemned “the social media” for spreading lurid rumors that had no evidence to back them up. He also described what happens when one witness says something sensational, and other witnesses assert they saw the same thing, though they did not. Others (like Fox News Commentator Arthur Aidala, Esq.) have called this bandwagoning.
McCullough ended his press conference at 8:58 p.m. CST. De facto President Obama announced he would speak at 10:00 p.m. EST (9:00 p.m. CST). He did speak, at 10:09 p.m. EST.
The reliable evidence that did come out, supported the story and report by Wilson, not by Michael Brown’s companion (and likely partner in shoplifting). The grand jury also heard Wilson did know about a shoplifting and did have a description of the suspects in that shoplifting, and of the item they stole. Wilson saw Brown and his buddy, reported two men answering to the descriptions of the suspects, and called for backup. Then he used his car to block their way (and to block traffic). That’s when the fight began, the fight that ended with Brown’s death.
Riots broke out after the press conference ended. Fox News Channel’s camera crews picked up gunfire outside Ferguson Police Headquarters.
The family of Michael Brown called for “peaceful” protest. They condemned any who would “answer violence with violence.” When Obama finally spoke, he repeated that call.
Terry A. Hurlbut has been a student of politics, philosophy, and science for more than 35 years. He is a graduate of Yale College and has served as a physician-level laboratory administrator in a 250-bed community hospital. He also is a serious student of the Bible, is conversant in its two primary original languages, and has followed the creation-science movement closely since 1993.
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