Friday, August 22, 2014

What to Expect from the Ferguson Grand Jury

The pathetically vague incident report on the Michael Brown shooting indicates how the St. Louis County grand jury investigation will proceed. It will be slow, incomplete, and obviously rigged.

The Grand Jury investigation will take months. As police shootings go, this should be easy. It was broad daylight, witness could see clearly. The whole incident from first contact to fatal shots took less than three minutes. Prosecutors expect to take at least two months, to mid-October, to present evidence, then the grand jury "can meet as long as they want" to reach a conclusion. They probably won't announce a decision until a particularly cold and blizzardly day in mid-December chosen more for suppressing protests than justice.

The result will be "No True Bill." Officer Darren Wilson has not been charged with anything. This means the grand jury will not be deciding whether to indict but simply reviewing evidence. The St. Louis County grand jury requires a 12-vote unanimous decision to indict, unlike other jurisdictions where a majority of a 23-member jury indicts. St. Louis County DA, Robert McCulloch, is a renown "friend of police" who has never seen anything wrong when police shoot a black man. His actions are a nudge-nudge, wink-wink to the grand jury to not indict.

The law is not on the side of justice.  At its loosest interpretation, certainly the one Robert McCulloch will describe to the grand jury, Missouri law says that a police officer can always shoot to kill as long as the officer expresses the lamest justification for the killing. All Wilson need do is claim he "felt" threatened by an unarmed man surrendering 30 feet away and it becomes a righteous shooting.

In case of trial, it will be held in a conservative, lily-white community. Let's say the grand jury goes rogue and files an indictment. The first act of the defense will be to demand a change of venue. As in the Rodney King case, the new venue will be chosen specifically to be sympathetic to the white officer. My early guess is Benton County where there are fewer than 30 African-Americans in the whole county.

There will be no sign of justice in the Michael Brown shooting case. As proof, I offer the fact that St. Louis police gunned down an unarmed man in broad daylight a few days after the Michael Brown shooting. They had absolutely no justification and no fear of any sort of discipline.

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