A St. Louis County Grand Jury has not indicted Ferguson Police officer Darren Wilson for fatally shooting 18-year-old Michael Brown on August 9.
The grand jury’s decision was read by St. Louis County Prosecutor Robert McCulloch tonight in St. Louis. He assured the media that there was, “a full investigation and presentation of all evidence and appropriate instruction of law to the grand jury.”
“They determined that no probable cause exists to file any charge against officer Wilson, and returned a no-true bill on each of the five indictments,” said McCulloch.
Brown was fatally shot after an encounter with Wilson in Ferguson’s Canfield Green apartment complex. Some eyewitness accounts said Brown was shot as he was charging at the officer, others that he was shot with his hands up.
McCulloch said in reading the grand jury’s decision that accounts of what happened were not consistent.
“Some described his hands as being out to his side, some said in front of him with his palms up. Others said his hands were raised near his head or by his shoulders. Still others said they were in front of his chest or down by his stomach.” McCulloch said.
He also acknowledged that three different autopsies had been conducted on Brown’s body. Among the findings, he noted that Brown sustained 7 or 8 gunshot wounds, depending on whether one of the shots was an entry or reentry wound.
“The top of the head, forehead, and perhaps the upper-right chest were consistent with his body being bent forward at the waist,” McCulloch said. A graze wound to his thumb was sustained at Wilson’s patrol vehicle. It was the first wound and was the only one sustained at close-range. The shot to the top of his head is believed to have been sustained last.
McCulloch says he cannot, under state law, reveal the vote or opinions expressed by members of the grand jury. He said it met 25 separate times between August 20 and today, and deliberated for more than two days before arriving at its decision.
“It is important to note here,” said McCulloch, “that they are the only people who have heard and examined every witness and every piece of evidence.”
He opened by extending his “deepest sympathies” to the family of Michael Brown and called the time since Brown’s death “extremely tense and painful.”
“No young man should ever die. This is the loss of a life and its a tragic loss regardless of the circumstances, but it’s opened old wounds and it’s given us an opportunity now to address those wounds, as opposed to in the past where they just fade away,” said McCulloch. “For how many years have we been talking about the issues that lead to incidents like this and yet after a period of time it just sort of fades away? I urge everybody who’s engaged in the conversation, who’s engaged in the demonstrations to keep that going, to stay with that; not to let that go.”