After reopening an investigation into the 2014 police shooting death of Michael Brown, the Ferguson, Mo., 18-year-old whose death sparked protests in the St. Louis suburb, a newly elected Black prosecutor has decided not to charge the officer responsible.
St. Louis County prosecutor Wesley Bell said at a news conference Thursday (July 30), that former Ferguson officer Darren Wilson would not face criminal charges, the same conclusion at which both a grand jury and a federal investigation arrived.
“The question for this office was a simple one: Could we prove beyond a reasonable doubt that when Darren Wilson shot Micheal Brown he committed murder or manslaughter under Missouri law? After an independent and in-depth review of the evidence, we cannot prove that he did,” Bell said during a press conference.
Brown, who was unarmed, was killed when Wilson confronted him after a report of a theft at a nearby convenience store. Several days of protests in Ferguson resulted from the shooting and it was one of the events that further fueled the Black Lives Matter movement, which started after the death of Trayvon Martin in Sanford, Fla., in 2012. The officer resigned from the department months later.
A grand jury said that Wilson opening fire on Brown was a justified shooting and declined to file charges. The U.S. Justice Department also concluded that Wilson, who claimed Brown charged at him, was justifiably fearful of Brown and that his firing fatal shots at him was not a federal crime either.
When Bell was elected prosecutor in 2018, Brown’s parents Lesley McSpadden and Michael Brown Sr. asked him to review the case.
“In the end, we cannot ethically bring this case to trial,” Bell told the St. Louis Post Dispatch, but added: “Our investigation does not exonerate Darren Wilson.”
According to the Post-Dispatch, Brown’s parents have not commented publicly yet about Bell’s decision. Wilson was also unavailable for comment.