A day after a Justice Department investigation found fault in Ferguson, Mo. officers for their racially biased policing, officials are confirming that the officer who shot an unarmed Michael Brown Jr. last August will not face civil rights charges.
The DOJ found that Darren Wilson, the former Ferguson police officer whose shooting of the black teenager sparked national protests, did not violate Brown’s civil rights when he used deadly force because he “feared for his safety.” The excessive force could not be considered “objectively unreasonable,” according to DOJ officials.
“There is no evidence upon which prosecutors can rely to disprove Wilson’s stated subjective belief that he feared for his safety,” states a DOJ report.
Brown’s family was made aware of the decision before the DOJ went public with the announcement. It has long been speculated that Wilson would not face federal civil rights charges, CNN reports.
The Justice Department investigation found that Brown reached into Wilson’s squad car and that a struggle ensued. Prosecutors couldn’t corroborate Wilson’s claim that Brown reached for his gun, but couldn’t find any evidence to disprove Wilson’s account. Brown moved at least 180 feet away from Wilson, but then turned and moved toward the officer, prosecutors said. Several witnesses claimed that Brown had his hands up, signaling surrender, when Wilson shot him. Some gave varying accounts, and some later recanted those claims made in media interviews.
The report says: “While credible witnesses gave varying accounts of exactly what Brown was doing with his hands as he moved toward Wilson — ie, balling them, holding them out, or pulling up his pants — and varying accounts of how he was moving — i.e. ‘charging,’ moving in ‘slow motion’ or ‘running’ — they all establish that Brown was moving toward Wilson when Wilson shot him.”
In addition to the announcement, the Justice Department has released the anticipated 100-page report that details the systemic racial discrimination practices used by Ferguson officials (including the police department and the court system).