Ever since Michael Brown was shot in Ferguson on Aug. 9, his home town has been in an uproar with violent protests. The riots intensified more after the decision of the grand jury to not indict Officer Darren Wilson, the police officer who shot Michael Brown, than after the shooting itself. These protests, however, while carrying good intentions, have less correlation to the case than they’d like to believe. The grand jury was right not to indict Wilson.
The prosecutor Robert McCullough decided to present the grand jury with all evidence, rather than presenting some evidence and calling for an indictment. This resulted in little cross-examination, which is unusual. In a normal situation, the prosecutor would present the evidence he chose to best support the recommendation he would then make to the jury. McCullough himself didn’t believe there was enough evidence to arrest Wilson, but recognized that the public wouldn’t accept that decision immediately. While uncommon, this approach made it so the grand jury had all the evidence when they made their final decision.
Another unusual aspect of this case is Wilson’s testimony for 90 minutes, in which he didn’t once plead the fifth, or his right not to self-incriminate. This indicates that Wilson had nothing to hide, and believed himself to be innocent.
Wilson gained both support and denial from eyewitness accounts, some matching his story that Brown charged him, others saying that Brown was showing signs of surrender when Wilson shot him. The physical evidence, including autopsy and forensic evidence, supports Wilson’s story. DNA, bullet trajectory, powder burns, and blood evidence all supported that Brown had charged Wilson. Wilson was justified in using his weapon as there was a threat of death or serious injury.
Finally, there is no evidence whatsoever that the shooting had any relation to racism, or racial profiling, unlike in the Trayvon Martin case. In that case, it appeared George Zimmerman followed Martin home because he was black, whereas here, Wilson had reason to be in the area where he shot Brown, having received a distress call that reported that a man in a black shirt had been seen stealing cigarillos from a convenience store. That seemed to be a description of Brown. In responding to this call and suspecting Brown of crime, Wilson was not practicing racial profiling and was justified.
Although the method of investigation in this case was not perfect, the grand jury decision not to indict Wilson was well founded. The protests are, in this case, misguided.