As we all know by now, Darren Wilson is not being charged for killing Mike Brown. Justified rage has resulted in protests in cities across the nation. Yet most white peoples single takeaway seems to be that of the looters. Because it is impossible to see the broader reasons behind their anger, when some protesters are just so darned angry. Now that all of the grand jury testimony is out, I want to go back and focus on the failed process that got us here.
There are plenty of interesting tidbits. From Wilson testifying that Brown looked like a demon. That it was Hulk Hogan against a five year old. That Brown was angered when shot (ya don’t say?). To saying that he wasn’t trying to pull Brown, but simply trying to grab him. People more bright than I are picking apart his testimony, so I’ll leave that up to them.
Those are pesky little things. We expect a guy who killed an unarmed teenager to justify his actions. To convince himself that he’s not the type of person that would kill an unarmed teenaged in cold blood. That he’s not a murderer. He’s a good guy! He’s paid to protect and serve. He was doing his job and following his training. And now he’s had to go through all of this. He’s lost his job. Paranoid every waking moment. His life is ruined!
I don’t particularly care about Darren Wilson, and how he gets himself to sleep at night. He and Mike Brown (may he rest in peace) are actors in a scene that plays out all too often in America. It is the actions of law enforcement, and of the prosecution, that are most alarming.
So again – after an altercation at Wilson’s SUV, Brown fled on foot. His body was found roughly 150ft from Wilson’s vehicle. Wilson killed Brown from a distance of 30-40ft, according to testimony. We don’t know exactly though, because no one bothered to measure the exact distances. Thus begins myriad ways in which this entire cluster was utterly fucked.
Homicide detectives weren’t notified until 40 minutes after the shooting (with no intervening audio of Wilson, oddly enough). It was an hour and a half before they arrived. No pictures were taken at the scene. The battery to the camera had died (no one had a camera phone, apparently). Wilson said that Brown grabbed his weapon in the vehicle. No fingerprints were taken to back up his claim. He was even allowed to take his weapon with him, as well as his vehicle, both of which had been splattered with Brown’s blood. Chain-of-custody be damned. He was allowed to wash Brown’s blood off of his hands, without pictures or samples taken. After initially stating that he did not require medical attention, Wilson was later convinced to go to the hospital. He rode with his superiors. Homicide detectives rode in a separate vehicle. Wilson was photoed at the hospital, treated with Aleve, and released.
That was just the day of. The prosecutor’s handling of the grand jury was even more suspect. To the point that the National Bar Associate has denounced the process.
St. Louis County Prosecutor Bob McCullough simply did not want Darren Wilson to be charged in the death of Mike Brown. That is the short version, plain and simple. But the way he went about it. Now that is the stuff of legend.
First of all, there should always be an independent prosecutor when dealing with police officers. They are often star witnesses for the prosecutor in cases brought daily against various vagrants in the community. They handle evidence and make arrests. They have a symbiotic relationship. Secondly, Bob McCullough’s father was a police officer who was killed in the line of duty. Third, going in he was oh-for-four when attempting to get a grand jury to indict a police officer for killing a black man. Never done it. Four, McCullough has close legal ties to the police union.
This fucking guy. He put on this elaborate charade so he could let Wilson off, and point his damned finger at the grand jury for doing his dirty work for him.
The prosecutor doesn’t need to go to a grand jury for charges (and he’s not required to abide the grand jury decision, btw). He can bring charges himself. He’s the prosecutor, that’s his job. Still can, in fact, a grand jury doesn’t count as double jeopardy.
Not only did he unnecessarily ask permission from the grand jury for charges, but he didn’t even recommend any. Now this is where it starts to gets good. He decided that transparency was the better option. This is his justification. He just wanted all of the information out there, and let the chips fall where they may. Prick. He did a document dump on the grand jury. He overloaded them with information to confuse and obscure, to circumlocute and obfuscate.
Rather than recommending charges and giving evidence for prosecution of said charges – he gave the grand jury a course in case law. He told them about all of the possible ways in which Wilson could be charged. And to apply each of those individual standards to each bit of evidence heard.
He decided to give the defense, as well as the prosecution. Yes. The county prosecutor decided to act as Wilson’s defense attorney as well. Because transparency. He brought a cacophony of witnesses with often conflicting testimony. Wilson testified carte blanche for four hours, while witnesses with countering narratives were frequently challenged.
Witness 40 (Sandra McElroy) came forward four weeks after the incident on August 9th, once Wilson’s defense was broadcast to the world. She claimed that Brown charged at Wilson like a football player. Backed up Wilson’s story to a tee. Fox News and AM hate-radio latched onto her testimony and ran with it. This proved that Brown was the aggressor, that he was a grave threat to Wilson. (Odd claim, that an unarmed man would charged an armed officer.)
In fact, her journal insists that she randomly drove to West Florissant that day because she wanted to see how blacks live, so that she could start calling them people instead of niggers. Other journal entries and facebook posts show her calling black folks both apes and monkeys.
She also has a documented history of lying to law-enforcement. Twice in the past, she had insisted that she was witness to high-profile St. Louis-area cases involving officers. Each time she was found to have been lying, and was not allowed to testify.
Oh, and she is bi-polar. Which wouldn’t be germane, except that she hasn’t taken her medication in over 25 years.
Sandra McElroy’s defense? Prosecutor McCullough knew all along. He knew that she is racist. Knew of her medical history. Knew of her history of lying to the police. Knew that she wasn’t even there that fateful day (which he readily admits). Bob McCullough knowingly put a witness on the stand to commit perjury. To be Wilson’s star witness.
And this is great. The Supreme Court has said that law enforcement are allowed to use deadly force against someone who is fleeing, only when the suspect is committing a felony. And only when the officer has reason to believe that their life is in danger. (Which is why it is very difficult to convict – not indict – convict an officer who simply says they felt threatened. Making it all the more odd that McCullough went this route.)
So, right before Wilson was set to testify, the assistant district attorney gave a handout to the grand jury. And told them that Missouri law gives an officer permission to use deadly force simply if someone runs away from them. This was the mindset they took when Wilson took the stand. That if Brown simply ran away, which he certainly did, then Wilson was definitively justified in killing him.
That was the law. Prior to 1985, at least. Now of course, Bob McCullough knew this. And so, hours before deliberation began, the grand jury was given another handout. And told to fold the other handout in half, since there was a portion that the SCOTUS ruled against, but failed to specify which portion.
A grand juror queried whether a Supreme Court decision and federal law trumped Missouri state law. The response was – As far as you need to know, just don’t worry about that.
Yes. Yes! America. Just don’t worry about it.