Why Darren Wilson wasn’t charged for killing Michael Brown

This gives a pretty good overview of the legalities involved in the Ferguson case from a fairly objective legal experts’ perspective. It’s also fairly consistent with my own amateur analysis of the case. In my view. Wilson was not indicted for these reasons:

1. Unreliable and contradictory witness testimony.

2. Inconclusive forensics reports.

3. The fact that Brown had committed a strong armed robbery not long before the shooting which likely prejudiced the grand jury.

4. The letter of the law concerning the use of deadly force (a cop only has to believe he is in danger, not actually be in danger).

5. The tendency of grand jurors to give cops the benefit of the doubt.

6. Possible jury tampering by the prosecution (see here)

My take on what actually happened between Wilson and Brown? No idea, and the grand jury probably didn’t either.

My biases? I’m usually biased for civilians against the cops, and think police brutality and killing of civilians is a serious, serious public problem (which would prejudice me in favor of Brown). But I’m usually biased for criminal defendants against the state, and  I’m also big on self-defense rights and the rights of the accused (which would prejudice me in favor of Wilson). Essentially there are two different sets of fundamental civil liberties concerns that are (potentially) in conflict in this case.


The grand jury responsible for deciding whether Ferguson, Missouri, police officer Darren Wilson should be indicted for the shooting death of Michael Brown has returned its answer: no.

Wilson won’t be charged. He won’t be arrested. He won’t face any criminal consequences for shooting and killing the unarmed black 18-year-old on August 9.

St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Bob McCulloch made the announcement in a statement Monday night, during which he said that Wilson knew that Brown was a robbery suspect at the time he shot him.

Still, many are wondering how it’s possible that 12 men and women who’ve been investigating the case since September didn’t conclude that there was probable cause to believe a crime had occurred.

After all, witnesses who’ve spoken to the media have given the same basic description of Brown’s final moments: he had both hands in the air when Wilson fired the shots that killed him — a narrative that made “hands up, don’t shoot” the rallying cry for protestors that flooded the streets of Ferguson after the shooting, demanding an indictment for Wilson.

In his statement, McCulloch said that some of the witnesses changed their stories and were unreliable. Some of them, he said, were “making it up.”

That determination explains in part why Wilson wasn’t indicted. Here are the other reasons that this outcome was somewhat predictable.

The law makes it easy not to charge police officers.


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