The St. Louis, Missouri County Attorney’s Office said Thursday that he would not charge a white police officer who shot 18-year-old Michael Brown in 2014 after quietly resuming an investigation.
Civil rights leaders and Brown’s mother reportedly hoped Attorney General Wesley Bell, who became the first Black prosecutor in the county in January 2019, could reopen an investigation into police officer Darren Wilson, who shot Brown six years ago.
Bell told reporters today that his decision was “one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do.”
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But after five months of investigating the case̵7;s evidence, witness statements and forensic reports, he concluded that “we cannot prove that he” committed murder or non-homicide.
The mass demonstrations that followed Brown’s shooting helped strengthen the Black Lives Matter movement in Ferguson, Missouri, and across the country.
A federal investigation and a grand jury acquitted Wilson of all charges months after Brown’s death in 2014.
Bell did not face any repercussions when he reviewed the investigation into Brown’s execution, because Wilson was never charged or tried, and there is no time limit for murder charges.
Brown, accompanied by a friend, told Wilson to get out of the middle of a street in a residential neighborhood when Brown approached a police car. During the entire quarrel, which lasted about 90 seconds, Wilson fired a total of twelve bullets, six of which hit Brown in front of his body.
Witnesses said Brown, who was unarmed, had his hands raised during the shooting, but federal investigators and a jury said the evidence suggested otherwise.
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Brown’s body remained on the street for four hours, causing outrage among his family and locals, sparking violent protests that followed.
“While this case is one of the most significant moments in St. Louis’s history, the question for this department was simple: could we prove beyond a reasonable doubt that when Darren Wilson shot Michael Brown, he committed murder or non-murder under Missouri law?” This was stated by Mr. Bell during a press conference on Thursday.
“After an independent and in-depth review of the evidence, we can’t prove he did it.”
Bell said that just because Wilson was not found guilty of murder or non-murder, he was not released.
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“There are so many times when Darren Wilson could have handled the situation differently, and if he had, Michael Brown might still be alive,” Bell told reporters.
The Justice Department declined to charge Wilson, but published a very critical report that noted racial bias in Ferguson Police Department and the district courts.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.