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No Charges Against Ferguson Officer Who Killed Michael Brown

A memorial stood on the spot where Michael Brown was killed by the police in Ferguson, Mo., in 2014.

Mr. Brown was 18...

Mr. Brown was 18 and a recent high school graduate when he got into a confrontation with Mr. Wilson on a quiet residential street in the St. Louis suburbs. A struggle at Mr. Wilson’s police vehicle turned into a pursuit on the street that ended with Mr. Wilson fatally shooting Mr. Brown. Witnesses said Mr. Brown had his hands up when he was shot — sparking outrage and a protest rallying cry — but federal and local investigators say the evidence suggested otherwise.

“Although this case represents one of the most significant moments in St. Louis’s history, the question for this office was a simple one: Could we prove beyond a reasonable doubt that when Darren Wilson shot Michael Brown he committed murder or manslaughter under Missouri law?” Mr. Bell said. “We cannot prove that he did.”

Even without a criminal prosecution, Mr. Brown’s death brought attention to police killings of Black people. It also forced many police departments to consider new reforms, like making officers wear body cameras, and other changes in the criminal justice system, like ending cash bail. An investigation by the Justice Department found that law enforcement in Ferguson and the surrounding communities regularly violated the rights of Black people, leading to changes in laws, and how courts and cities operate.

Mr. Bell himself is a product of the change brought on by Mr. Brown’s death. Activists heavily criticized the longtime prosecutor, Robert McCulloch, who led the grand jury process that resulted in no indictment. Mr. Bell, who is Black, unseated Mr. McCulloch in the Democratic primary two years ago as part of a nationwide wave of reform-minded people of color winning prosecutor races. Ferguson elected its first Black mayor[1], Ella Jones, this year.

At weeks of protests that rapidly extended from Minneapolis to cities and small towns[2] across the country after Mr. Floyd was killed, Mr. Brown’s name — among those of other Black people killed by the police — was frequently shouted by protesters or etched onto cardboard signs.

References

  1. ^ elected its first Black mayor (www.nytimes.com)
  2. ^ and small towns (www.nytimes.com)

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2020-08-10

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