Michael Brown Didn’t Deserve to Be Shot 6 Times

The grand jury in Ferguson did not indict Darren Wilson for any crime in connection with the homicide of Michael Brown.

Darren Wilson wasn’t on trial; the grand jury was not charged to find him guilty or not guilty.

Their only authority was to determine whether probable cause exists to hold him over for trial on any of a number of crimes. For the life of me I can’t fathom why the altercation with Michael Brown – as described – necessitated emptying a clip into him, and asking a law enforcement officer to answer for that to a jury seems to me to be a reasonable thing.

A kid who stole some cigars doesn’t deserve to die like a dog in the street. A kid who was rude to a cop, or walking in the middle of the street doesn’t deserve to be shot to death. The list of non-lethal ways to deal with any of those situations boggles the mind. Perhaps Officer Wilson could have just waited for backup before confronting two suspects by himself. If we take Wilson’s account at face value – right down to the description of Michael Brown’s face as “demonic” – Brown deserved to be arrested and prosecuted; not shot and killed.  Unfortunately, Brown’s side of the story will never be told. From the New York Times,

Some witnesses said Mr. Brown never moved toward Officer Wilson when he was shot and killed. Most of the witnesses said the shots were fired as he moved toward Officer Wilson. The St. Louis County prosecutor said the most credible witnesses reported that Mr. Brown charged toward the officer.

Some witnesses said that Mr. Brown had his hands in the air. Several others said that he did not raise his hands at all or that he raised them briefly, then dropped them and turned toward the officer. Others described the position of his arms as out to the side, in front of him, by his shoulders or in a running position.

Those differences in witness testimony is why you have a trial. Jaywalking and petty larceny don’t justify 12 – TWELVE – bullets being fired at an unarmed man. Read this summary of the account of Dorian Johnson, who was walking with Brown at the time.

The prosecutors control the grand jury process and the old adage that a prosecutor could get a grand jury to indict a ham sandwich is not unearned. Indeed, it is exceedingly rare for a grand jury to not indict someone. Although this grand jury had more leeway to conduct its own investigation, because it’s a law enforcement production, there will forever be a taint on a process where all of a sudden a cop is not indicted for what many perceive to have been an unreasonably excessive use of force under the circumstances.

It would have been nice for the family and the community for that question to be tried to a jury, rather than aborted at the indictment stage.

Finally, although I don’t see any reason to believe that Darren Wilson shot Michael Brown because he was black, I see a lot of palpable racism being directed at Brown and his family online. Any way you slice this, the homicide of Michael Brown was an unnecessary tragedy.

The Ferguson police department and the actions of Officer Wilson are under federal investigation, and Brown’s family will have recourse through the civil legal process.

6 comments

  • Maybe Officer Wilson didn’t open fire because Michael Brown was black, but there’s little doubt in my mind that on some level, Officer Wilson was almost certainly more primed for the use of force in a confrontation with a black man.

  • I don’t think I’ve ever heard of a police use of force situation where just one or two bullets were fired – it’s almost always the majority of the clip. Now in all fairness if I was in a situation where I felt like my life was under clear and immediate threat I can’t say I’d be OK with firing one or two shots to immobilize rather than kill the threat, but I’m a civilian. Police Officers, as well-trained and regularly evaluated defenders of the peace, should be able to show considerably more restraint when discharging their firearms, rather than turning every firing situation into the OK Corral.

  • If I’m not mistaken, Missouri law gives police a much wider leeway for the use of deadly force compared to most other states. I do think Brown should be held legally accountable, however he acted during a confrontation that was over very quickly. His explanation appeared to be conveniently crafted by his union attorney(s). The grand jury probably acted correctly with the facts available. I don’t think Wilson left his house that morning planning on killing a black person. Contrast that with the premeditated violence, destroying property and shooting off guns, following the No Bill, and you can see a culture of violence that probably had an effect on the shooting.

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  • Fucker deserved what he got. He didn’t cooperate, and didn’t want to see the consequences of his actions. He was dangerous and violent man and would of wound up shot sooner or later.

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