Hands Up, Don’t Shoot: The Verdict of Ferguson’s Grand Jury

On Monday, Nov. 24, the verdict on whether or not Officer Darren Wilson would be indicted was announced at roughly 8:30 p.m.. Five possible indictments had been presented to the grand jury ranging from murder in the first degree to involuntary manslaughter. After over 100 days of deliberation, the grand jury reached a verdict. Officer Darren Wilson was found not guilty and would not be indicted in the death of Michael Brown. Prosecutor Bob McCulloch stated in his address that it was no question that Officer Wilson had killed Michael Brown, but the controversy came over whether or not it was a justified killing.

Conflicts in the case were the lack of reliable eyewitness testimonies. According to McCulloch, various eyewitnesses falsely claimed that Officer Wilson had fired rounds into Brown’s back as he laid on the ground, which the autopsy proved false. At this point some testimonies were changed and some witnesses admitted to not even seeing the shooting. Other controversies came over on the fact that Brown was unarmed, and Officer Wilson proceeded to fire 12 rounds during the three minute altercation. Brown was shot 6 times, with two shots to the head that ended up killing him. One of the shots to his head was consecutive with the motion of Brown falling forward, a call for even more protest from the public as this motion would mean that Brown was no longer charging Officer Wilson. A few other witnesses testified that Brown’s hands were up, in a surrender motion; others said that after taking a few bullets there was no way that Brown could possibly charge or attack Officer Wilson.

These controversies have played a large role in the media since the initial event on Aug. 9. The media covered the question of race, if Officer Wilson would have fired those same 12 shots if Brown was a white teen. Another question was of the training of officers being to ‘shoot to kill’ when the officer is aware that the suspect is unarmed. After the grand jury released their verdict, a startling statistic was brought to light that again led to questioning of the jury’s verdict. According to the 2010 Bureau of Justice Statistics (the most recent year on record), of the 162,000 federal cases, the grand jury declined to indict only 11 of them. This has caused even more tension and unrest in Ferguson and surrounding areas due to what protesters are saying is a lack of justice. As of Nov. 24 alone, 82 arrests were made that night involving protests. Viewers were able to witness American flags being burnt as well as several other police cars, while Bob McCulloch continued his speech until President Barack Obama took over to give another address.

Regardless of the verdict and media coverage of the shooting, McCulloch and other representatives were respectful enough to extend sympathies to the family of Michael Brown. No matter the cause, McCulloch says ‘this is a tragic loss regardless of the circumstances’, and that ‘no young man should have to die this way’. Grand jury verdict aside, Ferguson county and social media worldwide also stand tall with the Brown family and hope that peace will be obtained in due time.