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No indictment for Wilson in Ferguson


AP

No indictment for Wilson in Ferguson

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FERGUSON, Mo. (AP) – A grand jury has decided not to indict Darren Wilson in the death of Michael Brown, the unarmed, black 18-year-old whose fatal shooting by a white officer sparked weeks of sometimes-violent protests and exposed deep racial tension between many African-Americans and police.

St Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Bob McCulloch announced the decision tonight. A grand jury of nine whites and three blacks had been meeting weekly since August 20 to consider evidence. The panel met for 70 hours and heard from 60 witnesses.

McCulloch stressed that the grand jurors were “the only people who heard every witness … and every piece of evidence”. He said many witnesses presented conflicting statements that ultimately were inconsistent with the physical evidence.

“These grand jurors poured their hearts and soul into this process,” he said.

As McCulloch was reading his statement, a crowd gathered around a car from which it was being broadcast on a stereo. When the decision was heard, Michael Brown’s mother, Lesley McSpadden, who was sitting atop the vehicle, burst into tears and began screaming before being whisked away by supporters.

The crowd erupted in anger, converging on the barricade where police in riot gear were standing. They pushed down the barricade and began pelting police with items, including a bullhorn. Police stood their ground.

At least nine votes would have been required to indict Wilson. The grand jury met in secret, a standard practice for such proceedings.

Speaking for nearly 45 minutes, a defensive McCulloch repeatedly cited what he said were inconsistencies and erroneous accounts from witnesses. When asked by a reporter whether any of the accounts amount to perjury, he said, “I think they truly believe that’s what they saw, but they didn’t.”

The prosecutor also was critical of the media, saying “the most significant challenge” for his office was a “24-hour news cycle and an insatiable appetite for something – for anything – to talk about”.

Brown’s family released a statement saying they were “profoundly disappointed” in the decision but asked that the public “channel your frustration in ways that will make a positive change. We need to work together to fix the system that allowed this to happen”.

The Justice Department is conducting a separate investigation into possible civil rights violations that could result in federal charges. The department also has launched a broad probe into the Ferguson Police Department, looking for patterns of discrimination.

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