The night St. Louis County Prosecutor Bob McCullough told the world no indictment was reached in the case of Ferguson Police Department Officer Darren Wilson, I shook. I was angered, hurt, confused, and completely beside myself. I wanted to send my fist through a wall. I wanted to go down the Lewisville, TX police department and picket. I wanted to go to Ferguson proper and protest the decision (along with pick a fight with some Klan members who were supposed to have been there).
But I didn’t do those things because they weren’t practical. So, for practicalities sake, I vented to my wife, then checked my Facebook for reactions my friends and acquaintances may have had.
I discovered my friends list broken into three camps: one that payed attention and were pissed off like I was, one that payed attention and championed the justice system, and a third who either didn’t care or had no desire to join the conversation. I can’t say I fault the third group. Conversations involving the relationship between race and criminal justice are not always easy to have. However, this writing isn’t about them. It’s about the group who believed, and I quote one of them:
“Justice has been upheld” — C.G.
“How?” — R.F.
Since McCullough’s press conference, he has been talking a lot about the case. So much, in fact, that his words and his public presence have amounted to a lawsuit filed against him by one of the people on the grand jury. Grand Juror Doe, as he is called because he is to remain anonymous under law, wishes to speak publicly about the proceedings as well, especially considering that the process may not have taken place as McCullough’s claims testify, and further, that the manner in which McCullough acted during the grand jury proceeding may have been a breach of ethics… and maybe even the law. The basis of Grand Juror Doe’s lawsuit is to lift the gag order placed on the grand jurors of this case, if for no other reason than for Grand Juror Doe to be able to speak openly about what really took place in the courtroom and during the jury’s deliberations.
You know, to set the record straight, since it’s becoming pretty apparent that Bob McCullough’s ethics should carry a considerably-sized question mark. The full text of Grand Juror Doe’s lawsuit can be found here.
“He was told he was free and no charges were filed..that’s how!” — S.R.
“Bro, you seem to think that someone not being indicted by a grand jury automatically means justice has been served. It has been painfully obvious over the course of American history that someone not being indicted by a grand jury doesn’t really mean that much.” — R.F.
More importantly, I think, is the move made by the NAACP Defense Fund. In an open letter to circuit court judge Maura McShane (Division 2, 21st Circuit Court, Missouri), the organization asked her to investigate McCullough and his team for misconduct, while also appointing a new prosecutor to handle the case against Officer Darren Wilson. The NAACP Defense Fund cites three specific reasons for concern about the efficacy of the grand jury proceedings:
1. The presentation of false testimony by McCullough and his team and how they were aware the testimony was false.
2. McCullough and his team sanctioned unlawful juror practices and gave the jury incorrect and/or misleading instructions regarding what laws were to be evaluated and how they should have been evaluated.
3. McCullough and his team displayed obvious bias toward Officer Darren Wilson during the grand jury proceedings.
“Bro you seem to not understand the process of what it means to have a jury or YOUR peers” — S.R.
“A grand jury is not a jury of one’s peers. Wilson was not on trial. The sole purpose of a grand jury is to weigh the prosecutor’s evidence for indictment. A grand jury and a trial jury are not the same thing.” — R.F.
The above points are some pretty solid ones to make, considering that the goal of the appeal to Judge McShane is to restart the case against Darren Wilson. Bob McCullough has even outright admitted to knowingly allowing liars to testify. One particular person who comes to mind is Sandra McElroy (“Witness 40”) who claimed to have been at the site of shooting and had bore witness to the incident. She hadn’t given police a statement about the incident until September 11, 2014 — over a month after the shooting took place, after a general outline of Darren’s Wilson’s statement had already been released by the press — and may have not even been present at the scene. Furthermore, McElroy is a confirmed racist, had followed the case (before she gave her statement) on Facebook, suffers from untreated bipolar disorder, posted a graphic of Mike Brown’s body in the street with the caption “Michael Brown already received justice, so please stop asking for it,” had inserted herself into a previous police investigation (making claims police eventually determined to be a “complete fabrication”), and has plead guilty to check fraud.
There’s a witness with some character, huh?
McCullough’s team has also been called into question as to whether they effectively did their jobs, and more importantly, if they had also participated in unethical practices during the deliberations. Assistant District Attorney Kathi Alizadeh, for example, instructed the grand jury to consider a law — for the purpose of their decision — that was invalidated by the Supreme Court of the United States three decades ago (in the 1985 Tennessee v. Garner decision) and had a conversation that went a little something like this:
That alone should be enough ground to restart the case against Wilson under Missouri Statute 56.110.
“The grand jury did not find a reason for there to even be a trial. All evidence showed that the police officer followed protocol and the law and that it was not a murder but self defense. It was still a horrible situation but justified.” — C.G.
“I understand that, and while I believe the grand jury made a bad call, your statement above is that justice had been served. To say that is to imply that Wilson was the victim, when he is not. That’s why I asked ‘how?'” — R.F.
Regardless of what any person may think regarding the shooting of Michael Brown, the fact remains that some pretty sketchy events took place in the aftermath. The shooting of Michael Brown, and the subsequent investigation that took place afterward, could not have been planned out any better by Hollywood writers. It was dramatic and not only divided the nation, but divided the world. Audiences internationally watched this story unfold in real time, even up to the thrilling climax when a crooked prosecutor gamed the system so a crooked cop wouldn’t have the be held accountable for his actions.
The whole thing has, in this guy’s opinion, been a disgusting display as to how easily the American criminal justice system can be manipulated to suit idolatry. I have my opinions of what happened in Ferguson, Missouri on August 9, 2014, as do millions of other people, but its hard to relegate this part of the story to being solely “opinion” when the man himself, St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Bob McCullough, has even publicly admitted to wrongdoing.
The transcripts of the grand jury proceedings speak for themselves.
I know that I just finished a 52-day devotion to police brutality and misconduct, but I still feel this topic to be pretty much at the forefront of the American socio-political conversation. Say what you will about the events leading up to the grand jury’s decision to not indict Darren Wilson, but it’s pretty obvious that some foul legal manipulation has been at work here, and the story that has been birthed by these events seems to evolve every time we hear the name Ferguson. A sketchy shooting of an unarmed black man by a hostile white cop morphed into a police department cover-up, which turned into riots and an investigation by the Federal justice department (still ongoing, as far as I know), which contorted into a controversial investigation by the St. Louis County D.A.’s office, which ultimately transformed into the St. Louis County grand jury deciding not indict Officer Darren Wilson, in open defiance of the fact indictments are handed down over 99% of the time.
Five months later, this case is still ongoing and Mike Brown’s ghost still walks the streets of Ferguson in a harrowing pursuit of justice. My hope is that Judge McShane invokes Missouri Statute 56.110 and another grand jury preceding, with another prosecuting team, is performed more ethically. Say what you will about the shooting and the players involved, but the law has not been followed, and contrary to what C.G. and S.R. have said about the grand jury’s decision, justice has not been upheld. Justice cannot be upheld when Lady Justice has been so blatantly abused, no matter which way her scales tilt.
“A grand jury is still a group of people who are your peers..and they are a jury..but yes as you stated they do not go to trial..they look over the evidence and see if it is worthy for an indictment.. I’m sorry I didn’t know I had to break that all the way down..when I assumed you knew how it worked..and as I assumed right..you then just wanted to argue over piddly word choices..hhmm well if that’s all your argument was over than I guess we are done here. AND JUSTICE HAS BEEN UPHELD!!! <smiley face>” — S.R.
“Barf.” — A.D.