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Ferguson_Nov21_DL[2]A St. Louis County Grand Jury voted to not to charge Ferguson, Missouri Police Officer Darrin Wilson with any criminal charges for the shooting death of Michael Brown. The incident, which occurred on August 9th, sparked worldwide protests and condemnation and an intense examination into police practices and procedures, not just in small suburban communities, but in major American cities. In his announcement, which was 16 minutes late for a scheduled 9pm Indianapolis time start, St. Louis County Prosecutor Robert McCulloch announced that the twelve member Grand Jury chose not to bring any criminal charges against Officer Wilson. The grand jury’s decision was announced by St. Louis County Prosecutor Robert McCulloch at a late evening news conference held two and half hours after a press conference by Missouri Governor Jay Nixon. In his statement, Prosecutor McCulloch expressed sympathy to Michael Brown family for their loss.  Then McCulloch begin defending his handling and conduct of the case. McCulloch indicated that all exvidence gathered by both local and Federal law enforcement was shared with each group. Prosecutor McCulloch described examples of “inconsistencies” between witnesses and physical evidence or through social media accounts.  At the earlier press conference by the Governor, City of St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay, St. Louis County Executive Charlie Dooley and Missouri State Public Safety Director Dan Isom, Gov. Nixon urged residents that “regardless of the decision you need to show tolerance, show restraint and show mutual respect”. All the officials said that law enforcement would be out “to protect lives, protect property and protect protestors free speech”. They said that protestors would be allowed to peacefully protest, but that violent protests or damage to property would not be tolerated. Prosecutor McCulloch decided not to make the decision whether to charge the 28 year old relatively inexperienced Officer Wilson or not, instead leaving it to a grand jury composed of nine whites and three African-Americans; six men and three women; including one Black man and two Black women. A Grand Jury is not like a jury (called at Petit Jury) that hears a case during a court trial. Grand Juries are not to decide guilt or innocence. A Grand Jury is to find whether there is sufficient evidence present to bring criminal charges against someone. The Grand Jury in this case had a range of criminal charges to possibly consider from the lowest manslaughter to homicide/murder. The Grand Jury began hearing evidence in the case August 20th. Prosecutor McCulloch said that he would be presenting “all evidence” in the case for the grand jury to decide. The case began that August 9th when Brown, a 18 year old high school graduate, was seen leaving a convenience store after allegedly stealing some cigarillos. Minutes later Brown was involved in a confrontation with Officer Wilson who then fired several shots at the unarmed Brown killing him. Community outrage began immediately with the four and a half hours Brown lay dead in a Ferguson street before medical personnel took him away. The number of shots fired at Michael Brown has been a major course of controversy. A private autopsy conducted by Brown’s family and another one by the Justice Department found that six bullets struck Brown. The autopsy conducted by St. Louis County hasn’t been publicly revealed. Conflicting reports claimed Brown and Wilson had a close physical altercation before Brown was shot. Other reports and witness indicated that Brown was some distance away from Officer Wilson and had his hands in the air indicating he was unarmed and not to shoot. Protests immediately began which escalated during August and September into episodes of violence. Eventually units of the Missouri National Guard were called out to help restore peace and order. Protesters from around the St. Louis area, the nation and eventually from part of the globe converged on Ferguson and St. Louis County holding a series of protests, marches and rallies all demanding the arrest and trial of Officer Wilson. There is concern that in the wake of the Grand Jury’s decision there could be protests and demonstrations in communities around the country. As of this posting there’s been no call for such demonstrations in Indianapolis. In a statement, the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department (IMPD) say they were “monitoring and will continue to monitor the events in Ferguson, Missouri. At this point there is no reason to believe there will be significant civil disobedience in Indianapolis.” The statement added that, “The Indianapolis community has constitutional right to assemble and express their opinions on matters of public interest. IMPD will ensure the community’s right to assemble is protected and that public safety is protected at the same time.”

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