Ferguson Police Officer Not Charged in Black Teen’s Shooting
CLAYTON, Mo.— A grand jury declined to indict a white police officer in the shooting of an unarmed black teenager whose death in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson became a national flash point on race, justice and policing.
The decision released on Monday night led to renewed unrest after the region faced weeks of protest that turned violent at times this summer. Police within hours of the decision were using smoke canisters, teargas and non-lethal shotgun rounds to disperse crowds in Ferguson as they reported incidents of looting and buildings being set on fire.
The grand jury was charged with determining whether a crime occurred when Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson shot 18-year-old Michael Brown in August after an altercation between the two. St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Robert McCulloch said the 12-member panel didn’t find probable cause for five possible charges that ranged from first-degree murder to involuntary manslaughter, after hearing more than 70 hours of testimony from about 60 witnesses.“All decisions in the criminal-justice system must be determined by the physical and scientific evidence, and the credible testimony corroborated by that evidence. Not in response to public outcry or for political expediency,” Mr. McCulloch said.
The shooting of Mr. Brown in August gained national attention as protests spread to other cities and President Barack Obama and Congress weighed in. On Monday night, Mr. Obama urged calm. “We need to recognize that the situation in Ferguson speaks to broader challenges that we still face as a nation,” Mr. Obama said.
The national debate started over the death of Mr. Brown and, more broadly, the treatment of young, black men by police. It grew to include how police responded to protesters in Ferguson and the use of surplus military equipment such as Humvees by local police departments.
On Monday, the crowd gathered at the Ferguson police station initially reacted quietly to the grand jury decision, but a small group attacked a police car and threw objects at police. Police responded by firing crowd dispersal canisters they said was smoke, and later tear gas, and all but a few dozen protesters dispersed from streets outside the police station.
Around 10 p.m., a St. Louis County Police squad car burned just down the street from the Ferguson Police Department, spare ammunition “cooking off” or exploding in the car.