Protests, looting, fires after grand jury declines to indict Darren Wilson -

Protests, looting, fires after grand jury declines to indict Darren Wilson

ST. LOUIS, Mo. (KMOV/AP) – A St. Louis County grand jury on Monday said they will not indict Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson for the shooting death of Michael Brown, Jr. 

That decision was announced by St. Louis County Prosecutor Bob McCulloch Monday night, who said all twelves jury members met on 25 days since August.  He said all twelve were present at every meeting.

“After their exhaustive review of the evidence, the grand jury deliberated over two days making their final decision. They determined that no probable cause exists to file any charge against Officer Wilson and returned a no true bill on each of the five indictments," said McCulloch.

"The physical and scientific evidence examined by the grand jury combined with the witness statements supported and substantiated by that physical evidence tells the accurate and tragic story of what happened,” he continued.

McCulloch went on to outline is detail the timeline as determined by the investigation, including the twelve shots fired by Officer Darren Wilson.

"These grand jurors poured their hearts and soul into this process," he said.

As McCulloch was reading his statement, Michael Brown's mother, Lesley McSpadden, was sitting atop a vehicle listening to a broadcast of the announcement. When she heard the decision, she burst into tears and began screaming before being whisked away by supporters.

The crowd with her erupted in anger, converging on the barricade where police in riot gear were standing. They pushed down the barricade and began pelting police with objects, including a bullhorn. Officers stood their ground.

At least nine votes would have been required to indict Wilson. The grand jury met in secret, a standard practice for such proceedings.

Speaking for nearly 45 minutes, a defensive McCulloch repeatedly cited what he said were inconsistencies and erroneous accounts from witnesses. When asked by a reporter whether any of the accounts amount to perjury, he said, "I think they truly believe that's what they saw, but they didn't."

The prosecutor also was critical of the media, saying "the most significant challenge" for his office was a "24-hour news cycle and an insatiable appetite for something — for anything — to talk about."

Brown's family released a statement saying they were "profoundly disappointed" in the decision but asked that the public "channel your frustration in ways that will make a positive change. We need to work together to fix the system that allowed this to happen."

President Barack Obama appealed for calm and understanding, pleading with both residents and police to show restraint.

"We are a nation built on the rule of law, so we need to accept that this decision was the grand jury's to make," Obama said. He said it was understandable that some Americans would be "deeply disappointed — even angered," but echoed Brown's parents in calling for any protests to be peaceful.

The Justice Department is conducting a separate investigation into possible civil rights violations that could result in federal charges. The department also has launched a broad probe into the Ferguson Police Department, looking for patterns of discrimination.

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Ahead of the announcement, several schools cancelled Monday night activities and some announced they were closing on Tuesday.  A full list can be seen here.

Wilson shot Michael Brown on Canfield Drive in Ferguson on August 9, 2014.  His body was left on the street for more than four hours while police investigated, a situation Ferguson Chief of Police Tom Jackson later apologized for.  Since then, crowds from not only across the St. Louis area, but also nationally, have taken to the streets of Ferguson to protest, calling for Wilson’s arrest.

National organizations, like Reverend Al Sharpton’s National Action Network and the NAACP, have come to St. Louis to bring awareness to the case.

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Wilson was never arrested as prosecutor Bob McCulloch worked to present evidence to the grand jury.  McCulloch’s critics called for him, or Governor Jay Nixon, to appoint a special prosecutor to the case, a request Nixon denied. 

The protests, which were mostly peaceful, turned disruptive some nights as angry crowds and police clashed on West Florissant several nights in a row.  Protesters were seen looting local businesses and throwing objects at police.  Police used tear gas and militarized equipment to combat the crowd.

Ahead of the grand jury, Missouri Governor Jay Nixon Monday signed an executive order activating the Missouri National Guard.  The Governor said the Guard will act in a support capacity for local law enforcement, allowing officers to focus on their community.

St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay requested some of those National Guard troops to be posted throughout the city following the grand jury announcement.

While the grand jury declined to indict Wilson, a federal probe into civil rights violations is still underway.

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