Ferguson police Officer Darren Wilson cleared by grand jury & U.S. DOJ

Dan Lucas_July 2012_BW

by Dan Lucas

You might not know it from following the media, but Ferguson police Officer Darren Wilson was cleared by a Missouri grand jury last November and by the U.S. Department of Justice in a report that came out 10 days ago. The DOJ found that the claim of “hands up, don’t shoot” was NOT CREDIBLE – but the lies continue and this week those lies contributed to the ambush shooting of two Ferguson police officers.

The national media and some national figures did a much better job of publicizing how they thought Officer Darren Wilson was guilty (before the facts were known) in the weeks following the shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown last August than they have done in reporting that Officer Wilson has now been cleared by a Missouri grand jury and by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ).

The media often referred to Michael Brown as “an unarmed teenager,” a misleading description. The NY Times reported that 18-year-old “Brown was a big man at 6-foot-4 and 292 pounds.” The average size of an NFL defensive end is 6-foot-4 and 280 pounds. There is a surveillance camera video that appears to show Michael Brown carrying out a strong-armed robbery of a convenience store minutes before the shooting. The DOJ report confirms that Officer Wilson knew about the convenience store theft when he stopped Brown: “The dispatch recordings and Wilson’s radio transmissions establish that Wilson was aware of the theft and had a description of the suspects as he encountered Brown and [his accomplice Dorian Johnson.]”

Officer Wilson cleared by Missouri grand jury

Back on November 24th, 2014, the prosecutor announced that the Missouri grand jury “ruled that ‘no probable cause exists’ to indict [Officer] Wilson on any of the five possible charges that they were asked to consider.” St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Robert McCulloch, a Democrat, “repeatedly stressed the physical evidence that the 12 jurors considered, saying that it ‘tells the accurate and tragic story of what happened,’” and said that “that the jurors are ‘the only people who have heard and examined every witness.'” Officer Wilson’s legal defense team issued a statement that said “Law enforcement personnel must frequently make split-second and difficult decisions. Officer Wilson followed his training and followed the law.”

The Washington Post reported that “jurors needed only to feel there was probable cause that [Officer] Wilson had committed a crime” to indict. The grand jury did NOT feel there was probable cause after hearing all the testimony and reviewing all the evidence.

Because of the unique nature of the case, the prosecutor took the very unusual steps to have transcripts made of the grand jury proceedings and then also released the 4,799 page grand jury transcript to the public. A weekly Missouri legal publication noted “Except for rare occasions where the accused testifies, such transcriptions are rarely made, much less released. McCulloch’s office gave information to reporters immediately after he announced the grand jury’s decision not to indict [Officer] Darren Wilson.”

Indicative of the layers of controversy surrounding the Ferguson case, the Washington Post reported that “Opponents had asked [prosecutor] McCulloch to recuse himself from the case over perceived biases; McCulloch’s father, a police officer, was killed on the job by an African-American.”

Rather than calling for faith in the justice system or even in fellow Democrat McCulloch and McCulloch’s extreme efforts at transparency, President Obama signaled that it was “understandable” that people would be “angered” that Officer Wilson wasn’t indicted. CBS News reported that the night the grand jury decision was announced “President Obama said it was understandable that some Americans would be ‘deeply disappointed — even angered’ that police officer Darren Wilson wasn’t indicted.”

Officer Wilson cleared by U.S. Department of Justice

In the weeks following the Aug. 9, 2014 shooting, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder first ordered a third autopsy and then a full federal investigation into whether Officer Darren Wilson had violated Michael Brown’s civil rights.

Ten days ago the U.S. Department of Justice released a report that cleared Officer Darren Wilson. CNN reported that the Justice Department could find “no evidence” to disprove that Officer Wilson “feared for his safety” and that “‘Wilson’s actions do not constitute prosecutable violations’ of federal civil rights law.”

MSNBC reported “The Department of Justice’s extensive report on the death of Michael Brown backs up former Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson’s version of events with the accounts of several predominately black eyewitnesses.” MSNBC went on to report “The DOJ also confirms Wilson’s claims that following a struggle in his police vehicle, and an aborted attempt to flee the scene, Brown faced and then charged the officer with the possible intent to kill.”

The DOJ report states ““Under the law, it was not unreasonable for Wilson to perceive that Brown posed a threat of serious physical harm, either to him or to others. When Brown turned around and moved toward Wilson, the applicable law and evidence do not support finding that Wilson was unreasonable in his fear that Brown would once again attempt to harm him and gain control of his gun.”

DOJ on claim of “hands up, don’t shoot”: NOT CREDIBLE

Dorian Johnson was with Michael Brown at the convenience store during the alleged strong-armed robbery. He was with Michael Brown when they were stopped by Officer Darren Wilson. Dorian Johnson is identified as “Witness 101” in the DOJ report.

MSNBC reported “Meanwhile, the testimony of Witness 101 [Dorian Johnson], the young man who accompanied Brown during an alleged robbery of a convenience store prior to his confrontation with Wilson, is largely discounted as not credible.  According to the DOJ report, ‘material parts of Witness 101’s account are inconsistent with the physical and forensic evidence, internally inconsistent from one part of his account to the next, and inconsistent with other credible witness accounts that are corroborated by physical evidence. It is also unclear whether Witness 101 [Dorian Johnson] had the ability to accurately perceive the shootings.’”

MSNBC continues “The [DOJ] report suggests that although Witness 101 [Dorian Johnson] was on the scene of the shooting he was crouched down behind vehicle when the fatal shots were fired, which may have impaired his perception of the event. Witness 101 has testified that Wilson initiated physical violence against Brown and also claimed that the teen had his hands up in surrender when he was killed, a narrative that largely inspired the protests in the wake of Brown’s death and the symbolic ‘hands up, don’t shoot’ gesture popularized by activists. However, the DOJ report found that, ‘Witness accounts suggesting that Brown was standing still with his hands raised in an unambiguous signal of surrender when Wilson shot Brown are inconsistent with the physical evidence, are otherwise not credible because of internal inconsistencies, or are not credible because of inconsistencies with other credible evidence.’ Autopsy results also confirm that Brown was not shot in the back while running away.”

Those revelations led Lynette Mae at the Huffington Post to write a few days ago “Make no mistake, those lies directly led to rioting,” and “I don’t believe a rallying cry based on a lie helps make things better for community relations.”

Summary

Lynette Mae at the Huffington Post sums it up very well: “Even now, when the DOJ’s own report largely corroborates [Officer] Wilson’s testimony by forensic evidence, completely discrediting witnesses who LIED, the best we can get from most of the press is a mumbled mention of witness ‘misstatements.’ Why isn’t this a front page headline? Witness lies caused outrage and led to rioting and looting! It seems to me that fair reporting demands at least equal front page coverage.”

If the media and the same national figures who were so quick to condemn Officer Wilson and who spread the “lies” that “directly led to rioting” would now be as vocal and persistent in getting the truth out, then maybe it would dampen the inflamed tensions in Ferguson that recently led to the ambush shooting of two police officers.

If the media and those national figures had waited until all the facts were in before spreading falsehoods and lies in the first place, then maybe New York City police officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos would still be alive.

 

[UPDATE: 3/16/2015] Washington Post‘Hands up, don’t shoot’ was built on a lie

[UPDATE: 3/19/2015] Washington Post: Ferguson ‘Hands up, don’t shoot’ – a LIE! Gets 4 Pinocchios

To read more from Dan, visit www.dan-lucas.com

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Posted by at 06:50 | Posted in Crime & Sentencing, Media | 3 Comments |Email This Post Email This Post |Print This Post Print This Post
  • Erotica Blair

    No, the media did a good job of reporting the results of the grand jury and the DOJ report. That is where I heard all the information. In fact you cite the very media that you claim didn’t do a good job of reporting the story (citing MSNBC and Huffington Post).

    Witness lies caused outrage and led to rioting and looting!

    No. This is absolutely wrong. What caused the outrage was the way the Ferguson police treated the African American community for years. That is also in the DOJ report, and conveniently ignored by you. If the police had been doing their job, and making ties to the community rather than treating them like the enemy, this would have been a tragedy, but most likely not the flashpoint it became. If you don’t understand the history of the black community and how they were treated by the Ferguson police department, you don’t understand anything about what happened.

    • Erotica Holder

      Jolly on the spot: Eric Blair, Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson MSNCB, Huffington Post, etc. .

  • David from Mill City

    It is absolutely clear that the handling and coverage of the first Ferguson Shooting, then and now, was not what was needed in general and in specific cases exactly the opposite. This has resulted in a less then satisfactory outcome.

    The understandable difference in the coverage level between now and the time of the shooting is only part of the problem. It is understandable because of the nature of our current 24 hour news cycle and its apparent inability to cover more then a small handful of stories at one time. Right now in addition to the DoJ shooting report, there is the more explosive DoJ report on the Ferguson Police Department, the fighting in Iraq, the negotiations with Iran, Clinton emails, the presidential campaign, SAE at University of Oklahoma and the ACA at the Supreme Court to name a few, which may be more then they can report on at one time. Plus the bottom line of the story, DoJ decides not to prosecute is accurate but incomplete.

    To start with, the basic story, white policeman shoots unarmed black youth, is highly charged. The public, both locally and nationally wants to know what happened and why. The media arrives and the story pushes most everything else of the screen. With 24 hours of coverage to fill the media seeks stuff to fill it. The authorities at the start do not have a lot of information, and what they do have is incomplete and/or the release of which would harm either the investigation or their attempts to spin the situation. So with official information limited so the press seeks its own and ends up reporting rumors, half-truths, incorrect or incomplete stories. And when the authorities finally release information it is incomplete and in some cases misinformation. As the demonstrations start the main story goes there. The net result is that interested public is not provided with an accurate picture of what happened and why.

    Then we get to the DA and the Grand Jury proceedings. To start with the DA did not do his job. His job is to present the evidence necessary to get an indictment, and only that evidence, to the Grand Jury and to argue for that indictment. The evidence necessary to get an indictment existed at the time, it is in the transcript. If the DA had done his job, there would have been a indictment followed by a public trial. Instead we are left with a prolonged secret hearing followed by a poorly timed announcement that there will not be an indictment which was followed by the release of over 4500 pages of transcript. At best a transcript is a poor substitute for being there, and at 4500+ pages it is not even close.

    A public trail would have been a much better forum to provide the public with a less inaccurate picture of what happened. A picture the public both needed and deserved. Given what has been report about the contents of both the transcript and the DoJ report it is extremely likely that Officer Wilson would have been acquitted. Similarly, if the DoJ had gone forward with a civil rights trial, the public would have been provided with a less inaccurate picture of what happened. And as a public trial takes time, the many talking heads of the press could have provided explanations of what is happening and the public would have time to digest the information reported.

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