Regarding St. Louis County Prosecutor Robert McCulloch, Ham Sandwiches, Pontius Pilate, and the Ferguson Grand Jury

Robert McCulloch St. Louis County Prosecutor

Robert McCulloch
St. Louis County Prosecutor

By Elaine Magliaro

One of the images that came to my mind when I thought about the situation faced by the Ferguson grand jury was of Pontius Pilate washing his hands. Pontius Pilate–that’s who it seemed St. Louis County prosecutor Robert McCulloch was acting like. He appeared to wash his hands of any responsibility in the case of Darren Wilson, the police officer who shot and killed Michael Brown. McCulloch dumped all the evidence on the the grand jury, provided no guidance to the jurors, and left the grand jury to make the decision.

Back on September 12th, Dana Milbank (Washington Post) wrote that the “latest evidence” that the fix was in had come from The Post’s Kimberly Kindy and Carol Leonnig, who had discovered that McCulloch’s office had declined to recommend any charges to the grand jury. He said that instead, McCulloch’s prosecutors who were handling the case were taking “the highly unusual course of dumping all evidence on the jurors and leaving them to make sense of it.”

On Monday, Charles Pierce wrote an article for his Politics Blog at Esquire titled Dead of the Night: The Ferguson Decision. In his piece, Pierce talked about what has been going on with some police departments in this country and the way law enforcement looks at citizens.  He mentioned two specific cases–Salt Lake City where the “police had become more dangerous to the public welfare than are the local drug gangs” and to the city of Cleveland where “a 12-year-old waving a toy gun was shot and killed by a rookie officer” recently.

Did you that more Utahns have been killed by police in Salt Lake City in the past five years than by gang members…or by drug dealers…or by child abuse?

The Salt Lake Tribune:

And so far this year, deadly force by police has claimed more lives — 13, including a Saturday shooting in South Jordan — than has violence between spouses and dating partners.

As the tally of fatal police shootings rises, law enforcement watchdogs say it is time to treat deadly force as a potentially serious public safety problem.

Pierce:

There is something gone badly wrong in the way police are taught to look at civilians these days. This is the logic of an occupying power being employed on American citizens. Ever since 9/11, when we all began to be told that we were going to have to bend a little bit, and then a little bit more, to authority or else we’d all die, the police in this country have been militarized in their tactics and in their equipment, which is bad enough, but in their attitudes and their mentality, which is far, far worse. Suspicion has bled into weaponized paranoia, especially in the case of black and brown people, especially in the case of young men who are black or brown, but this is not About Race because nothing ever is About Race. Even the potential of a threat requires a deadly response, Dick Cheney’s one-percent idea brought to American cities and towns until Salt Lake City, of all places, winds up with cops who are deadlier on the streets than drug dealers. This is how you wind up with Darren Wilson. This is how you wind up with Michael Brown, dead in the middle of the road. This is how Darren Wilson walks, tonight, for the killing of Michael Brown. This is how you end up with an American horror story.

Then Pierce focused his attention on St. Louis County prosecutor Robert McCulloch.

Jesus Mary, this Bob McCulloch guy may be the single greasiest public servant I’ve ever encountered. I’ve never seen a DA who was so damned proud of himself for putting a grand jury on automatic pilot. (See, “Ham sandwich, indictment of.”) And I’ve never seen such a perfect mixture of condescension and willful nonfeasance in my many years of watching how law enforcement in this country operates. This, after all, is a guy who once personally wrangled a grand jury to discover the identity of a whistleblower. This is a guy who once lied through his teeth about another police shooting, this one involving a car that allegedly “charged” a couple of officers, much as Michael Brown allegedly “charged” Darren Wilson.

Pierce added that the “kindest evaluation of McCulloch’s record is that he is a very active prosecutor with a very clear sense of what he can make a grand jury do, if he chooses to do so, which he did not in this case, for reasons that are far from unclear.” Pierce continued, “In the most high-profile case of his career, prosecutor Bob McCulloch insisted he was just a feather in the wind, just gathering evidence so the grand jury could make up its own mind, not directing it at all. And then, Monday night, he hummina-hummina’ed for seven full minutes before announcing the least shocking news of the day. Darren Wilson did not commit a crime by shooting Michael Brown dead in broad daylight in the middle of the street.”

But–as Pierce noted–public servant McCulloch–knew what the real problem with this investigation was:

McCulloch:

“The most significant challenge encountered in this investigation has been the 24-hour news cycle and its insatiable appetite for something, for anything to talk about, following closely behind with the non-stop rumors on social media.”

That’s right! That’s what the St. Louis County prosecutor actually said.

Arthur Chu (The Daily Beast) wrote that McCulloch “refused to lay responsibility at society’s inherent racism, or the brutality of Ferguson police, or even the man who put six bullets in an unarmed teen. Instead, he blamed the media.”

Regarding inherent racism: “ProPublica recently found that ‘young black men are 21 times as likely as their white peers to be killed by police,’ according to data collected between 2010 and 2012.” (Huffington Post)

Chief Judge Sol Wachtler of New York once said that if a district attorney wanted, a grand jury would indict a ham sandwich.

Peter D. Kramer (The Journal News):

Grand juries, Wachtler argued, serve the prosecutor and give the prosecutor what the prosecutor wants.

It appears that McCulloch got exactly what he wanted.

SOURCES

Ferguson tragedy becoming a farce (Washington Post)

DEAD OF NIGHT: THE FERGUSON DECISION (Esquire)

Killings by Utah police outpacing gang, drug, child-abuse homicides (Salt Lake Tribune)

I Blame People Who Blame the Media: Robert McCulloch’s Tone-Deaf Speech (The Daily Beast)

Rudy Giuliani Says White Cops Are Needed To Stop Black People From Shooting Each Other (Huffington Post)

A grand jury could ‘indict a ham sandwich’, but apparently not a white police officer (The Independent)

Ferguson: Prosecutor’s actions ‘peculiar,’ Pace professor says (The Journal News)

 

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40 Responses to Regarding St. Louis County Prosecutor Robert McCulloch, Ham Sandwiches, Pontius Pilate, and the Ferguson Grand Jury

  1. Elaine M. says:

    Just found this:

    Ferguson pays a high price for mistakes by Prosecutor Bob McCulloch and Gov. Jay Nixon
    http://www.kansascity.com/opinion/editorials/article4148433.html

    Excerpt:
    Grand juries are usually convened to essentially validate a prosecutor’s decision to bring charges against an individual. As a result, they usually only hear testimony favorable to the prosecution’s case, and they almost always decide in favor of an indictment.

    This grand jury’s job was closer to what would usually be expected of a trial jury. Jurors were asked to examine reams of evidence and make a judgment about what happened in the encounter between the teenager and the police officer, but without a judge to set boundaries and provide guidance.

    Wilson was given four hours to present his version of the case to the grand jury and respond to questioning by two assistant prosecutors, which came across more like prompting than a cross examination.

  2. swarthmoremom says:

    http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2014/11/6-revelations-grand-jury-documents What Darren Wilson said he was thinking as he shot Michael Brown, a witness’ racist journal entry, and more.

  3. Mike Spindell says:

    Elaine,

    You’ve nailed it, save for those whose “log in their eye” blinds them to the blatantly obvious conclusion that “the fix was in”. What strikes me most depressingly though, is how some characterize those protesting as a “mob”, when in fact the protests are a result of a continuing pattern of police oppression that as you have shown represents a current nationwide phenomenon.

  4. Mike Spindell says:

    SwM,

    Some interesting material at that link, Especially that the 6’4″ Officer Wilson felt small and frightened when facing Michael Brown. Think of the psychology entailed in this confrontation?

  5. mespo727272 says:

    McCulloch:

    “The most significant challenge encountered in this investigation has been the 24-hour news cycle and its insatiable appetite for something, for anything to talk about, following closely behind with the non-stop rumors on social media.”

    That’s right! That’s what the St. Louis County prosecutor actually said.

    **********************

    It’s like Wilson shot him with newspaper ink..

  6. bron98 says:

    http://www.gofundme.com/NataliesCakesnMore

    A good cause.

    Michael Brown isnt the only victim in this mess.

  7. bettykath says:

    At 6’4″ Wilson has probably been much larger than the others he has arrested or harassed. Consider the size of Mike’s friend. Wilson is used to being able to throw people around without much trouble. He finally picks on someone his own size and finds it’s not so easy. He seems to be a typical wussy bully who needs the edge when he confronts someone. As a cop he has a badge, a gun, a taser, oops, no taser it’s too much for him, a stick, and his size. Ok, now where’s someone looking for a fight.

    btw, I don’t believe for a moment that the red spot on his face came from Mike Brown. If he was part way out of his SUV when Mike pushed back on the door, it’s more likely that his face hit the door frame.

  8. Elaine M. says:

    bettykath,

    Regarding the red mark on Wilson’s face: It was on the right side. If Brown punched him through the cruiser window, doesn’t it stand to reason that the mark should have been on the left side?

  9. The CelticLassie was in night class when the (in)famous press conference was held. She has been focused on school, pretty much to the exclusion of everything else. She came in the back door with the speaker on her smart phone blaring, asking, “What is going on in St. Louis? Something big is going down in St. Louis.”

    Somebody had sent her a text message to tune into the St. Louis County Police Department dispatcher. Radio traffic sounded worse than air traffic control during rush hour at O’Hare.

    She said she was glad she wasn’t there. So am I.

  10. Elaine M. says:

    Why Ferguson is so mad at prosecutor Bob McCulloch
    The lawyer’s rambling remarks on Monday night aren’t the real problem. It’s his controversial past.
    https://news.yahoo.com/how-prosecutor-bob-mcculloch-s-controversial-past-is-making-matters-worse-in-ferguson-212622087.html

  11. blouise says:

    It seems to me that McCulloch abdicated his responsibilities, misused the system to the extent of mockery and the Governor, in ignoring the warnings and pleas from the citizenry that the prosecutor was bent, is complicit in that misuse and mockery.

    Darren Wilson, the prosecutor, and the Governor are now fully exposed to the court of public opinion wherein no legal protections exist. These three men are not overly endowed with intelligence … and … we have the transcripts! 😈

  12. swarthmoremom says:

    http://www.newrepublic.com/article/120422/bob-mcculloch-abused-grand-jury-process-ferguson “On the left, there were basically two reactions to Monday’s announcement that Darren Wilson would not be indicted for killing Michael Brown. There were those who believed Wilson should have been indicted because it’s hard to see how the killing of an unarmed man by a cop doesn’t establish probable cause. And there were those who, while conceding the structural injustices that led to the killing of Michael Brown, argued that it would have been extremely difficult to convict Wilson under the law as written, and that the grand jury’s decision not to indict was therefore sound.

    Both arguments have some merit, but in the end they’re both flawed. My own view is that St. Louis County prosecutor Bob McCulloch had two legitimate options following Wilson’s killing of Brown, neither of which he chose. The first would have been simply to decline to indict Wilson for the reasons McCulloch’s defenders posit—that the law would have made it very difficult to secure a conviction. The second legitimate option would have been to obtain an indictment against Wilson from the grand jury, which McCulloch almost certainly could have done had he sought one. But McCulloch chose a third option—using the grand jury process to establish Wilson’s innocence—which is deeply unfair.

    Why? Because grand juries simply aren’t equipped to adjudicate guilt or innocence. As The New Yorker’s Jeffrey Toobin points out, prosecutors have enormous sway over grand juries. Typically, they cherry pick the evidence that establishes probable cause, helping them obtain indictments in almost every case. But in this case, McCulloch clearly didn’t believe an indictment was deserved. So he used his influence in the opposite direction—stacking the deck in favor of a non-indictment. Specifically, he inundated the grand jury with “every scrap of evidence [he] could find,” in Toobin’s words, at which point “the grand jury threw up its hands and said that a crime could not be proved.” [UPDATE: This New York Times story goes even further, showing how McCulloch’s team essentially cherry-picked evidence establishing Wilson’s innocence. It describes how they accepted Wilson’s account at face value……….”

  13. swarthmoremom says:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2014/11/26/us/ferguson-grand-jury-weighed-mass-of-evidence-much-of-it-conflicting.html?_r=0 “But the gentle questioning of Officer Wilson revealed in the transcripts, and the sharp challenges prosecutors made to witnesses whose accounts seemed to contradict his narrative, have led some to question whether the process was as objective as Mr. McCulloch claims.

    Lawyers for Mr. Brown’s family, who maintained all along that Officer Wilson should be charged with a crime so he could be tried in public, said that Monday’s decision and the voluminous transcripts only reinforced their suspicions.

    “This grand jury decision we feel is a direct reflection of the sentiments of those who presented the evidence,” Anthony Gray, a lawyer for the relatives, said at a news conference Tuesday morning. “If you present evidence to indict, you get an indictment. If you present evidence not to indict, you don’t get an indictment.” “

  14. Elaine M. says:

    Ferguson Grand Jury Evidence Reveals Mistakes, Holes In Investigation
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/11/25/ferguson-grand-jury-evidence-mistakes_n_6220814.html

    Excerpt:
    that, if this case had gone to trial, could have been highlighted by prosecutors (not including the witnesses who appeared to contradict Wilson’s testimony):

    1. Wilson washed away blood evidence.

    In an interview with police investigators, Wilson admitted that after the shooting he returned to police headquarters and washed blood off his body — physical evidence that could have helped to prove or disprove a critical piece of Wilson’s testimony regarding his struggle with Brown inside the police car. He told his interrogator that he had blood on both of his hands. “I think it was his blood,” Wilson said referring to Brown. He added that he was not cut anywhere.

    7. Wilson’s initial interview with the detective conflicts with information given in later testimony.

    In his first interview with the detective, just hours after Brown’s death, Wilson didn’t claim to have any knowledge that Brown was suspected of stealing cigarillos from a nearby convenience store. The only mention of cigarillos he made to the detective was a recollection of the call about the theft that had come across his radio and that provided a description of the suspect.

    Wilson also told the detective that Brown had passed something off to his friend before punching Wilson in the face. At the time, the detective said, Wilson didn’t know what the item was, referring to it only as “something.” In subsequent interviews and testimony, however, Wilson claimed that he knew Brown’s hands were full of cigarillos and that fact eventually led him to believe Brown may have been a suspect in the theft.

  15. Bob Kauten says:

    Looking for some Pontius Pilate?
    I got your Pontius Pilate right here:

  16. swarthmoremom says:

    http://www.newyorker.com/news/news-desk/use-grand-jury “Would Wilson have faced charges if he had been treated like every other suspect in McCulloch’s jurisdiction? We’ll never know—and that’s the real shame of this prosecutor’s approach.”

  17. bettykath says:

    Elaine, “Regarding the red mark on Wilson’s face: It was on the right side. If Brown punched him through the cruiser window, doesn’t it stand to reason that the mark should have been on the left side?”

    Exactly. Any half-way decent cross-examination would have challenged that story. It’s also why an alternative explanation is necessary.

  18. bettykath says:

    Even if Wilson had been indicted does anyone believe that he would have faced a vigorous prosecution? We saw what the Zimmerman prosecutors did – laid out all (not all, but most of it) the evidence and then told the jury to figure it out. They also didn’t challenge defense attorneys who solicited opinions from non-experts, objected to harassment of Jeantel, objected to hearsay, or presented any rebuttal. With a few minor adjustments (no judge or opposing counsel, a prosecutor would have been nice to counterbalance Wilson’s defense attorneys) this is pretty much what happened in the gj room.

  19. Elaine M. says:

    I recommend reading Charlie Pierce’s post titled “DARREN WILSON SPEAKS” at his Politics Blog over at Esquire:

    http://www.esquire.com/blogs/politics/The_Wilson_Interview

    Excerpts:
    Once again, I would like to congratulate whoever it was that prepped Officer Darren Wilson for his close-up with Bob McCulloch’s Jack Molinas-inspired grand jury. As can be seen from his exclusive chat with The Clinton Guy Shocked By Blowjobs, the man takes coaching very, very well. Even Hulk Hogan makes an encore appearance. Wilson’s mentors probably told him to stay away from using Kamala as a metaphor because it likely would conflict with Wilson’s diversity training, and because Kamala has fallen on hard times.

    ***

    By Wilson’s own account, Brown already was a suspect in a robbery in which there was violence, and now in an assault on a police officer — and, if Wilson is right about Brown’s attempt to turn Wilson’s own weapon on him, the attempted murder of a police officer — and his goal is not to arrest the guy but just to keep an eye on him? That dog ain’t bringing anything back for supper. Was anybody in that grand jury awake?

    Clinton Guy: You mean you weren’t going to arrest him alone.

    Wilson: I wasn’t going to arrest him alone. I knew I had back-up on the way.

    The fight for the book deal is going to be even bloodier.

  20. Elaine M. says:

    Amid Conflicting Accounts, Trusting Darren Wilson
    http://www.nytimes.com/2014/11/26/us/ferguson-grand-jury-weighed-mass-of-evidence-much-of-it-conflicting.html?_r=0

    Excerpt:
    In an unusual step, Mr. McCulloch had said he would present all known witnesses and evidence and instead of recommending an indictment, as is usually the case, let the jurors decide for themselves what if any charges to bring.

    The officer’s testimony, delivered without the cross-examination of a trial in the earliest phase of the three-month inquiry, was the only direct account of the fatal encounter. It appeared to form the spine of a narrative that unfolded before the jurors over three months, buttressed, the prosecutors said, by the most credible witnesses, forensic evidence and three autopsies.

    But the gentle questioning of Officer Wilson revealed in the transcripts, and the sharp challenges prosecutors made to witnesses whose accounts seemed to contradict his narrative, have led some to question whether the process was as objective as Mr. McCulloch claims…

    In some cases the questions seemed designed to help Officer Wilson meet the conditions for self-defense, with a prosecutor telling him at one point: “You felt like your life was in jeopardy” followed by the question, “And use of deadly force was justified at that point in your opinion?”

  21. Slartibartfast says:

    Don’t have anything to add, just wanted to subscribe…

  22. Possible witness link murdered and set on fire.

    Witness no 10 – reportedly changed testimony (week of “Brown walking on sidewalk – and then several weeks later, walking by sidewalk; but not on sidewalk)

  23. Forget the video discussion by Lawrence – on the conflicting testimonies

  24. swarthmoremom says:

    http://talkingpointsmemo.com/livewire/cory-booker-ferguson-rodney-king-column “”I’m a black man. I am 6 feet 3 inches tall and 230 pounds, just like Rodney King. Do I scare you? Am I a threat? Does your fear justify your actions?” Booker wrote while recounting the numerous times he had been seen that way.

    He described his realization about how the police view him.

    “But late one night, as I walked the streets of Palo Alto, as the police car slowed down while passing me, as his steely glare met me, I realized that to him and to so many others I am and always may be a Nigger: guilty till proven innocent,” he wrote.” Booker wrote this when he was 22 years old.

  25. buckaroo says:

    Hundreds of Ferguson residents woke up without jobs because their places of employment have been burned down, or looted, and will likely not open again.

    There is a pall of media disinterest in who the leaders and organizers of this riot are. What we saw was not an organic event….targets were picked, a list of targets was printed and circulated. Brown’s death was used to fuel other agendas.

    People who want to believe that America is a racist country looked at the facts presented in the GJ decision, ignored or re-interpreted them to fit their own incorrect narrative.

    Those who believe America is a racist country demonstrated their own racism by placing the blame for Brown’s death not on Brown, but on an officer who was doing his job; and by asserting that blacks are incapable of being policed by anyone but other blacks, as if that would magically lower crime.

    Part of the American underclass have again demonstrated that they are incapable of advancing themselves within mainstream America as has been done by virtually every ethnic group.

    The MSM got the riot it wanted; it will now pack its gear and return home, leaving behind the mess it hoped to document. Millions of people got to see four hours of non-stop riot porn.
    — Michael Haz

    • Mike Spindell says:

      “Those who believe America is a racist country demonstrated their own racism by placing the blame for Brown’s death not on Brown, but on an officer who was doing his job; and by asserting that blacks are incapable of being policed by anyone but other blacks, as if that would magically lower crime.”

      A nonsensical straw man created in the image of FOX News. I provide proof of this country being racist, you provide overstatement, rhetoric and denial. The officer “did his job” alright by shooting Michael Brown multiple times for what exactly?

  26. eniobob says:

    From Think Progress I will paste article:

    by Judd Legum Posted on November 26, 2014 at 10:13 am Updated: November 26, 2014

    “On Monday, Prosecutor Bob McCulloch announced that a grand jury had decided not to indict Darren Wilson, the officer who killed Michael Brown. But that decision was the result of a process that turned the purpose of a grand jury on its head.

    Justice Antonin Scalia, in the 1992 Supreme Court case of United States v. Williams, explained what the role of a grand jury has been for hundreds of years.

    It is the grand jury’s function not ‘to enquire … upon what foundation [the charge may be] denied,’ or otherwise to try the suspect’s defenses, but only to examine ‘upon what foundation [the charge] is made’ by the prosecutor. Respublica v. Shaffer, 1 Dall. 236 (O. T. Phila. 1788); see also F. Wharton, Criminal Pleading and Practice § 360, pp. 248-249 (8th ed. 1880). As a consequence, neither in this country nor in England has the suspect under investigation by the grand jury ever been thought to have a right to testify or to have exculpatory evidence presented.

    This passage was first highlighted by attorney Ian Samuel, a former clerk to Justice Scalia.

    In contrast, McCulloch allowed Wilson to testify for hours before the grand jury and presented them with every scrap of exculpatory evidence available. In his press conference, McCulloch said that the grand jury did not indict because eyewitness testimony that established Wilson was acting in self-defense was contradicted by other exculpatory evidence. What McCulloch didn’t say is that he was under no obligation to present such evidence to the grand jury. The only reason one would present such evidence is to reduce the chances that the grand jury would indict Darren Wilson.

    Compare Justice Scalia’s description of the role of the grand jury to what the prosecutors told the Ferguson grand jury before they started their deliberations:

    And you must find probable cause to believe that Darren Wilson did not act in lawful self-defense and you must find probable cause to believe that Darren Wilson did not use lawful force in making an arrest. If you find those things, which is kind of like finding a negative, you cannot return an indictment on anything or true bill unless you find both of those things. Because both are complete defenses to any offense and they both have been raised in his, in the evidence.

    As Justice Scalia explained the evidence to support these “complete defenses,” including Wilson’s testimony, was only included by McCulloch by ignoring how grand juries historically work.

    There were several eyewitness accounts that strongly suggested Wilson did not act in self-defense. McCulloch could have, and his critics say should have, presented that evidence to the grand jury and likely returned an indictment in days, not months. It’s a low bar, which is why virtually all grand juries return indictments.

    But McCulloch chose a different path. “

  27. eniobob says:

    “In his first public interview this week, Darren Wilson, the white police officer who fatally shot an unarmed black teenager in Ferguson, Mo., was asked whether he could have done anything differently that would have prevented the killing.

    His answer, broadcast on Wednesday, to the question from George Stephanopoulos of ABC News, was unequivocal: “No.”

    But even as a grand jury decided this week not to indict Officer Wilson, the shooting of the 18-year-old, Michael Brown, has continued to raise questions about whether the officer handled the brief and deadly confrontation correctly. It also has become part of a broader national debate over police tactics and potential racial bias in policing.”

    http://www.nytimes.com/2014/11/27/us/ferguson-experts-weigh-darren-wilsons-decisions-leading-to-fatal-shooting-of-michael-brown.html

  28. Elaine M. says:

    Lawrence O’Donnell Talks about Ferguson Prosecutor’s (Robert McCulloch) Reliance On “Key” Witness

  29. Elaine M. says:

    This explains what Lawrence O’Donnell is talking about in the video that I posted at 10:02 am:

    Ferguson Prosecutor “Misled” Grand Jury
    http://beforeitsnews.com/alternative/2014/11/ferguson-prosecutor-misled-grand-jury-picture-3068728.html

    Excerpt:
    St. Louis County prosecutors may have misled the grand jury investigating the police shooting of Michael Brown into believing that Ferguson, Missouri, police officer Darren Wilson was justified in shooting Brown merely because the unarmed black 18-year-old fled from the officer, according to a review of the grand jury documents by MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell.

    Before Wilson testified to the grand jury on September 16, prosecutors gave grand jurors an outdated statute that said police officers can shoot a suspect that’s simply fleeing. This statute was deemed unconstitutional by the US Supreme Court in 1985; the court ruled that a fleeing suspect must, at least in a police officer’s reasonable view, pose a dangerous threat to someone or have committed a violent felony to justify a shooting.

    Prosecutors, who had full control of the evidence presented to the grand jury, took more than two months to correct their mistake, O’Donnell said. The prosecutors on November 21 — just three days before the grand jury reached a decision — gave the correct standards to the grand jury. But as O’Donnell explained, the prosecutors didn’t specify what exactly was wrong with the outdated statute — and they didn’t even clearly say, after they were asked, to the grand jurors that Supreme Court rulings do indeed override Missouri law.

  30. Elaine M. says:

    The five leaders who failed Ferguson
    The crisis in Ferguson has been made worse by serious failures in public administration by police chiefs, regional leaders and even the state’s governor
    http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2014/nov/27/ferguson-five-leaders-failed-michael-brown

    Excerpt:
    Bob McCulloch, county prosecutor

    When the history of Ferguson’s 2014 unrest is written, McCulloch’s decision to time his announcement that Darren Wilson would not face criminal charges for 8.30pm, as hundreds of demonstrators swarmed outside the city’s police department, may be seen as the unforced error surpassing all others in this chaotic three-month saga.

    Angry groups promptly embarked on hours of destruction, looting and arson under cover of darkness, in one of the worst nights of race-related rioting in the US for a generation. “It was the worst possible timing,” said Todd Swanstrom, a professor in public policy at the University of Missouri-St Louis. McCulloch’s spokesman said later that there had been “no good time” to make the announcement.

    By choosing to use his extraordinary 20-minute speech not as a humble delivery of difficult news but rather a bitter exercise in score-settling against the press, social media users and some friends of Brown, McCulloch pointlessly enraged those watching his remarks around Ferguson on television or listening intently in the streets through car windows. Brown’s stepfather responded by screaming repeatedly at the surrounding crowds: “Burn this bitch down”. Swanstrom described McCulloch’s remarks as “tone deaf”.

    Already that day, McCulloch had failed to ensure that, as was agreed with their attorneys, Brown’s parents were the first to be informed that the grand jury had reached a decision regarding the shooting of their son. The news instead leaked almost immediately to CNN, and Brown’s parents learned of it from one of the station’s correspondents. Senior officials in St Louis city hall, trying to prepare for their own unrest, were also left guessing. “We were expecting it yesterday,” one told the Guardian when asked to confirm CNN’s report that day.

  31. Bob Stone says:

    Regarding Lawrence O’Donnell and the outdated statute…

    I thought at first that I’d like to know if the ADA that made the error had been involved in any other police shooting cases; i.e. was she already familiar with the statute in question. If she did, then I was suspecting that she probably did it intentionally.

    But then I went through the transcript. O’Donnell gives the false impression that the ADA instructed them on how to read it in the outdated fashion. That’s not what happened. And if you look it up online, you’ll see that even the version that will take effect in 2017 contains the same language O’Donnell objects to.

    See for yourself.

    http://www.moga.mo.gov/mostatutes/stathtml/56300000462.html#Top

    http://www.moga.mo.gov/mostatutes/stathtml/56300000461.html

    And I must say his conflating the ADA’s refusal to get into a legal discussion over a statute that’s not going to come into play in the first place, since the blood trail evidence proves Brown wasn’t fleeing when Wilson shot him, is just shameless.

    And to connect the failure to start a discussion about the Supreme Court to Selma somehow???

    That’s Rush Limbaugh of the left level of audacity.

  32. blouise says:

    Elaine,

    I wish there were a way to present the “presentation” the prosecutor’s office gave the grand jury to the Supreme Court. I would be very interested in the opinion. Sadly, I don’t believe our justice system allows for that.

    Too much justice I guess.

    However, McCulloch and Wilson do make a good song and dance team and the grand jury was a most receptive audience. A justice system that’s good at dancing on victims’ graves is a system in which we can all take pride.

    We have much to look forward to in Cleveland.

  33. Elaine M. says:

    blouise,

    Did you see this?

    Police Gunned Down A 12-Year-Old And Somehow Local News Decided To Run This Story
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/11/26/tamir-rice-father_n_6227312.html?utm_hp_ref=crime&ir=Crime

    Excerpt:
    Last weekend, 12-year-old Tamir Rice was killed by a Cleveland police officer responding to a 911 call. The caller was concerned about the young black boy who appeared to be handling a gun at a park. The firearm, it turned out, was only an Airsoft pellet gun — and although the orange plastic ring indicating it wasn’t an actual weapon had been removed, the caller did say the gun was “probably fake.” But that detail was apparently not relayed to responding officers, who shot Tamir twice in the torso just seconds after they arrived at the scene. Tamir died later at a hospital.

    On Tuesday, police officials announced that they planned to release video of the incident. The next day, Tamir’s family and members of the community, still reeling from the boy’s death as well as the recent events in Ferguson, Missouri, awoke to this headline from the Northeast Ohio Media Group instead:

    “Amir Rice’s father has history of domestic violence”

  34. Sisyphus Assist says:

    Mespo…So anytime an armed man shoots an unarmed man, we have a trial…and just dispense with the grand jury? Sorta disparages the grand jury…Oh but no don’t like jurors anyway, your on record there too. Interesting world you live in….

  35. Elaine M. says:

    It will be interesting to find out if this story is true:

    Ferguson: Police Mole Helping Anonymous Identify KKK Link with Darren Wilson
    http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/ferguson-police-mole-helping-anonymous-identify-kkk-link-darren-wilson-1476508

    Excerpt:
    A mole within the St Louis County Police Department is feeding information to Anonymous hacktivists trying to prove a link between Darren Wilson and the Ku Klux Klan.

    While the world is focused on the fallout from the grand jury decision announced on Monday not to indict Darren Wilson, online activist group Anonymous is continuing its goal of producing conclusive evidence that there is a major link between the Ferguson police department, where Wilson worked and a local brand of the KKK.

    Last week Anonymous announced that it had evidence which proved the link but could not publish it as it would endanger the life of the source that provided the information.

  36. Elaine M. says:

    Bob McCulloch: Ferguson’s Face Of Injustice
    http://www.theledger.com/article/20141129/EDIT01/141129171

    Excerpt:
    Ferguson reminds us that we still have a race problem in America. But the face of this problem is not Darren Wilson’s. It’s Bob McCulloch’s.

    Wilson, the Missouri police officer who shot and killed an unarmed black teenager, is the target of most public ire. But no responsible person thought Wilson’s killing of Michael Brown was premeditated. Even if prosecutors tried him on lesser charges of involuntary manslaughter, they might well have come up empty, and most people would have accepted that result of a fair trial.

    What causes the outrage, and the despair, is the joke of a grand-jury proceeding run under the auspices of McCulloch, the St. Louis County prosecutor. In September, I wrote that it appeared he wasn’t even trying to get an indictment; he had a long record of protecting police in such cases, and his decision not to recommend a specific charge to the grand jury essentially guaranteed there would be no indictment.

    When McCulloch announced the inevitable result Monday night, he prefaced it by blaming news organizations and social media for whipping up emotions in the case with inaccurate information. He went on to ridicule witnesses who had given inconsistent testimony.

    McCulloch hid behind the grand jurors, as if he hadn’t orchestrated their decision with the finesse of conductor Christoph Eschenbach: “Anyone suggesting that somehow it’s just not a full and fair process is just unfair to these people” who “gave up their lives” to deliberate.

    McCulloch essentially acknowledged that his team was serving as Wilson’s defense lawyers, noting that prosecutors “challenged” and “confronted” witnesses by pointing out previous statements and evidence that discredited their accounts. “Physical evidence does not change because of public pressure or personal agenda,” McCulloch lectured piously. “Physical evidence does not look away as events unfold.”

    But physical evidence, like eyewitness testimony, is imperfect and often ambiguous. McCulloch knows this; that’s why he hedged in saying Brown’s wounds were “consistent with a close-range gunshot” and “consistent with his body being bent forward.” McCulloch acknowledged that you could “take out a witness here, a witness there, and come to a different conclusion.” And that’s exactly why we have public trials: to litigate conflicting accounts in a setting where the burden of proof is much higher than the probable-cause standard of the grand jury.

  37. Carterbo says:

    I appreciate the coverage given to this event on FFS. In discussions with good friends on Ferguson, the consensus with them is the autopsies prove the validity of Wilson’s actions and all other circumstances ignored. One thing my friends have in common though is that they lean heavily to the right politically. Not tea-party territory, but close. I find it nearly impossible having a good debate since they believe what they are told and have little ability to ask the right questions — and none at all to question the Right.

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