Still No Way to Charge Officer in Michael Brown Killing

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Darren Wilson, the former Ferguson, Mo., police officer who shot and killed Michael Brown in 2014, won’t face charges after a re-examination of the evidence, St. Louis County prosecutor Wesley Bell said Thursday, the Wall Street Journal reports. A grand jury declined to indict Wilson, a white officer, for shooting Brown, an unarmed Black man. Wilson confronted Brown, 18, for allegedly stealing a box of cigarillos from a liquor store, and Brown walked toward the officer, who had ordered him to stop. The shooting prompted protests and riots in Ferguson and around the nation, leading to a national discussion on racism and police violence, and helping to galvanize the Black Lives Matter movement.

A U.S. Justice Department investigation found no grounds to indict Wilson. The investigation detailed racial bias in the way Ferguson police and courts treated Black people, leading to changes in the St. Louis suburb. The case got renewed attention in 2018, when Bell, then a Ferguson City Council member, defeated a seven-term incumbent in the Democratic primary and became the first Black prosecuting attorney in St. Louis County. Bell said making the decision to not charge Wilson was “one of the most difficult things I’ve had to do as an elected official.” Bell said that his office wouldn’t be able to prove Wilson committed murder or manslaughter under the state’s definitions of those crimes. “The question of whether we can prove a case at trial is different than clearing him of any and all wrongdoing,” Bell said. “The only question is whether we can prove beyond a reasonable doubt that a crime occurred. The answer to that question is no, and I would violate my ethical duties if I nonetheless brought charges.”

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