Darren Wilson Is Cleared of Rights Violations in Ferguson Shooting

Matt Apuzzo and Erik Eckholm, New York Times, March 5, 2015

Offering the most definitive account yet of the shooting of an unarmed black teenager that stirred racially charged protests across the country, the Justice Department has cleared a Ferguson, Mo., police officer of civil rights violations in the death last August of Michael Brown.

The decision, announced on Wednesday, ends a lengthy investigation into the shooting last August, in which the officer, Darren Wilson shot and killed Mr. Brown in the street as he tried to stop him for a possible theft. Several witnesses said Mr. Brown, 18, had his hands up in surrender when he died, leading to violent clashes in Ferguson and nationwide protest chants of “Hands up, don’t shoot.”

But federal agents and civil rights prosecutors rejected that story, just as a state grand jury did in November when it decided not to indict Mr. Wilson. In an 86-page report released Wednesday that details the testimony of more than 40 witnesses–and evaluates their credibility and consistency with forensic evidence–the Justice Department largely backed up Mr. Wilson’s account and said there was no basis for criminal charges.

Mr. Wilson, who left the Ferguson Police Department late last year, said that Mr. Brown had fought with him, reached for his gun, and later charged at him, making him fear for his life.

“There is no evidence upon which prosecutors can rely to disprove Wilson’s stated subjective belief that he feared for his safety,” the report said. At the same time, it concluded that the witnesses who claimed that Mr. Brown was surrendering were not credible.

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In a written statement, Mr. Brown’s parents, Lesley McSpadden and Michael Brown Sr., said they were saddened and disappointed with the news that “the killer of our son wouldn’t be held accountable for his actions.”

But the couple also praised a second Justice Department report released on Wednesday that found systemic discrimination against African Americans by the Ferguson Police Department and municipal court.

“We are encouraged that the DOJ will hold the Ferguson Police Department accountable for the pattern of racial bias and profiling they found in their handling of interactions with people of color,” the statement said.

{snip}

The Justice Department’s report includes a description of every witness’s accounts, which were sometimes offered in multiple interviews with St. Louis county police and the FBI, and judged their likely credibility in court.

{snip}

No witnesses had accounts that were both credible and pointed toward Mr. Wilson’s guilt, the investigators wrote. Nine witnesses did not fully contradict or corroborate the officer, while the accountes of 24 others were dissected and shown, the federal investigators said, to lack credibility. These included witnesses who admitted they had not actually seen the events.

“Our investigation has been both fair and rigorous from the start” Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. said in a news conference on Wednesday afternoon. It was conducted independently from the investigation by the local police, he said, and included the canvassing of more than 300 residences to locate additional witnesses.

“The facts do not support the filing of criminal charges against Officer Darren Wilson in this case,” he said. For those who feel otherwise, he said, “I urge you to read this report in full.”

Some of the witnesses whose accounts supported Mr. Wilson said they had been afraid to come forth before or tell the truth because they feared reprisals from the enraged community.

{snip}

From the beginning, civil rights charges represented a difficult hurdle for prosecutors to clear. The law requires prosecutors to prove that Mr. Wilson willfully violated Mr. Brown’s civil rights when he shot him. Courts have given officers wide latitude when deciding when to use deadly force if they feel their lives are in danger.

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  • TomIron361

    “rights violation” = double jeopardy…

  • superlloyd

    ”as he tried to stop him for a possible theft.” The New York Slimes at it again. If they had any honour they would put out a front page editorial apologising for their slanted, one sided reporting and for the damage they have caused ex officer Wilson for their bias and dishonesty. They are not fit for purpose and should be sued for malpractice.

  • Truthseeker

    In a written statement, Mr. Brown’s parents, Lesley McSpadden and
    Michael Brown Sr., said they were saddened and disappointed with the
    news that “the killer of our son wouldn’t be held accountable for his
    actions.”

    This from the people who don’t believe their son should’ve been accountable for his actions.

    • Or they themselves. Lesley McSpadden still might face charges for her part in vandalizing Michael Brown’s step-grandmother’s attempt to monetize the tragedy.

      • baldowl

        I am somewhat ashamed that I understand your description of that convoluted amoral bit of situational negritude.

    • A Freespeechzone

      Like many negroes, they WANT the legal right to attack and kill anyone they chose without any reason–and to NEVER be held accountable, punished or even have to justify their actions.

      Moreover, ANY attempt by the victim to invoke self-defense is to be considered racist and a hate-crime the mandates prosecution at the local and federal level.

      The irony is that the negro in the WH and at the DOJ–along with self-loathing White liberals support negroes’ right to unprovoked attacks against innocent victims as ‘payback’, retribution and punishment for past sins that nobody alive today experienced.

      They want victims to ‘lay down and die’.

      I’ll NEVER DO THAT!

      • Earl P. Holt III

        Facts, evidence, logic and reason play NO ROLE in the lives of 95% of them: They are like wild beasts…

      • Gunter Mabuse

        My dad picked cotton when he was a kid. He is white, and so am I. His parents were sharecroppers. I have never asked for reparations, nor has he.

    • Alexandra1973

      He did it to himself, from where I sit. Committed suicide by cop.

      • Earl P. Holt III

        …and nothing became him in life like the leaving it…

  • USofAntiWhite

    I flip all of this Black youth being victims garbage by agreeing with the sheep and subsequently adding that Michael Brown and Treyvon Martin are the best that the Black community has to typically offer… and that it is a shame that their top tier youths’ lives ended in fatal decisions.

  • John Smith

    A moment of comic relief from FPD: “An African-American woman in New Orleans was admitted into the hospital
    for a pregnancy termination. Two weeks later she received a check for
    $5,000. She phoned the hospital to ask who it was from. The hospital
    said, ‘Crimestoppers.'”

  • meanqueen

    Hmm, okay, so what about reparations to Officer Wilson? His reputation and his life have been ruined. If Holder was going to admit in the end AFTER the investigation that Wilson was innocent, then why didn’t he hold his tongue beforehand, you know, like the rule of law in America, “innocent until proven guilty.” I loathe and despise these people.

  • “in which the officer, Darren Wilson shot and killed Mr. Brown in the street as he tried to stop him for a possible theft from attempting to take his firearm, most likely with the intent of murdering him with it.”

    There ya go NYSlimes, fixed your lie for you.

  • newscomments70

    Former Detective Serpico wrote an article in support of Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown, critical of the “racist white police”. In the past, I respected Serpico for fighting corruption. I have completely lost respect for him. I submitted a comment to him expressing my disappointment, citing black on white crime statistics. I made the mistake in being influenced by a Hollywood “true story” movie.

    • Gunter Mabuse

      Isn’t Serpico brain damaged? That is the impression I received from the Hollywood film. Wasn’t he shot in the head? Maybe I am mistaken.

      • newscomments70

        I think he is, but he writes coherently and has had a productive life. I believe these would be his true feelings, with or without the bullet in his head. He was always a hippie renegade type.