No true bill. No charges against Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson. Case closed.
It’s a wrap, at least as far as St. Louis County law enforcement is concerned…What the U.S. attorney general’s office may or may not do is another matter. If the a.g. also determines that Wilson broke no laws when he fatally shot 18-year-old Michael Brown, people can be more comfortable with the county grand jury’s decision.
As most of you know, soon after the Aug. 9 shooting I jumped to the conclusion that Wilson had unlawfully shot Brown. It sounded like manslaughter to me. I was one of millions who jumped to that conclusion.
But tonight, as I was listening to St. Louis Prosecutor Robert McCulloch recite key points of testimony and evidence, one point in particular rocked me like a thunderclap.
Some of Brown’s blood was found 23 feet past the point where his body ended up.
That means as he had been heading away from Wilson, he decided to turn around and come back toward the officer.
I had not heard that before. It could well be a piece of evidence that did not come out until tonight. In any event, it is, to me, profoundly important.
It is even more significant — conclusive, in my view — when combined with the fact that autopsies showed that none of the bullets that struck Brown hit him from behind.
Clearly, what happened is that after a brief tug of war over the officer’s weapon inside his patrol car, and after Wilson had already fired one or two shots (neither of which seriously wounded Brown, apparently), Brown started running away.
And had he kept on running, he might well have lived to tell the story.
But this young man, who was still full of himself after having stolen some cigarillos in a store and roughed up a store clerk, made the worst decision of his life: He reversed course and went back toward Wilson.
Some witnesses said he “charged” at Wilson. The fact that the fatal wound was a bullet to the top of the head strongly indicates he was moving toward Wilson with his head down. That would support the testimony that he “charged” toward Wilson.
I wish the people who were poised for protest out on the streets of Ferguson would have stayed home and listened to McCulloch’s presentation instead of heading to the streets. Most of them probably wouldn’t have taken to the streets.
As McCulloch said, the physical evidence doesn’t lie and it doesn’t change (assuming it is gathered professionally and correctly).
There was a movie out last year — a good one — about legendary background rock-n-roll singers. It was called “20 Feet from Stardom.”
Twenty-three feet is also a real short distance. If Brown had been thinking about survival instead of further confrontation, and if he hadn’t turned back toward an officer with an already-smoking gun…well, he probably would have been plea bargaining over the theft of those cigarillos.