Dana Milbank examines whether a grand jury might refuse to indict Officer Wilson in Mike Brown’s shooting death in Ferguson, Missouri last month. It doesn’t look good, in large part because grand jurors are essentially now being asked to become detectives in a real-life crime novel:
October is when a grand jury is expected to decide whether to indict the white police officer, Darren Wilson, who killed an unarmed black teenager by firing at least six bullets into him. It’s a good bet the grand jurors won’t charge him, because all signs indicate that the St. Louis County prosecutor, Robert McCulloch, doesn’t want them to.
The latest evidence that the fix is in came this week from The Post’s Kimberly Kindy and Carol Leonnig, who discovered that McCulloch’s office has declined so far to recommend any charges to the grand jury. Instead, McCulloch’s prosecutors handling the case are taking the highly unusual course of dumping all evidence on the jurors and leaving them to make sense of it.
McCulloch’s office claims that this is a way to give more authority to the grand jurors, but it looks more like a way to avoid charging Wilson at all — and to use the grand jury as cover for the outrage that will ensue. It is often said that a grand jury will indict a ham sandwich if a prosecutor asks it to. But the opposite is also true. A grand jury is less likely to deliver an indictment — even a much deserved one — if a prosecutor doesn’t ask for it.
I’m sorry — are we basically now relying on 12 randos who didn’t find a way to get out of jury duty to pore over the evidence on their own, without help from the experts, and then decide if it’s safe to ask another jury if it was, in fact, “Officer Wilson in the Conservatory with the Candlestick”?
Apparently, McCulloch, the St. Louis County prosecutor, has had a lot of family members on police forces (including a father who was killed in the line of duty) and has (coincidentally?) declined to prosecute any of a dozen police officers involved in questionable fatal shootings in his jurisdiction over the twenty years he has been in the office. He has actually excused some pretty horrific wrongful shooting deaths by police, as Milbank reports.