Louis County, Mo., a prosecutor on Thursday said he would not charge a White police officer who shot 18-year-old Michael Brown in 2014, after quietly reopening the investigation.
Civil rights leaders and Brown’s mother reportedly hoped prosecutor Wesley Bell, who became the county’s first black prosecutor in January 2019, could reopen an investigation into police officer Darren Wilson, who shot Brown six years ago.
Bell told reporters today that his decision was “one of the hardest things I had to do.”
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However, after a five-month investigation of the evidence, testimony and forensic reports, he concluded that “we cannot prove that”; he committed murder or homicide.
The massive demonstrations that followed Brown’s shooting helped consolidate the Black Lives Matter movement in Ferguson, Mo, and across the country.
A federal investigation and a grand jury acquitted Wilson of all charges a month after Brown’s death in 2014.
Bell met with no resistance when re-examining Brown’s investigation into Wilson, as Wilson has never been charged or tried and there are no restrictions on murder charges.
Accompanied by his friend, Brown told Wilson to get out of the middle of the street in a residential neighborhood as Brown approached a police car. In the entire quarrel, which lasted about 90 seconds, Wilson fired a total of twelve bullets, six of which hit Brown in front of his body.
Witnesses said Brown, who was unarmed, had his hand in the shooting, but federal investigators and a grand jury said the evidence showed otherwise.
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Brown’s body was left on the street for four hours, sparking outrage between his family and locals, sparking furious protests.
“Although this case represents one of the most significant moments in the history of St. Louis, the question for this office was simple: Could we prove without any doubt that when Darren Wilson shot Michael Brown, he committed murder or homicide under Missouri’s law? “Bell said during a press conference on Thursday.
“After an independent and thorough examination of the evidence, we cannot prove that he did.”
Bell noted that just because Wilson was not found guilty of murder or murder, he was not deprived of his liberty.
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“There are many things in which Darren Wilson could have handled the situation differently, and if he had, Michael Brown could be alive,” Bell told reporters.
The Department of Justice has refused to accuse Wilson, but has issued a very critical report that has noted racial bias in the Ferguson Police Department and the district courts.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.