Shortly after the grand jury decision yesterday, so too was the paperwork from the jury.
Reams of transcripts, evidence reports, witness statements, and police documentation were all put online for everyone to go over and see what it was the grand Jury saw, heard, and understood. So far, the picture painted does not look good for Prosecutor Bob McCulloch.
In his entire opening statement from the first day of testimony, McCulloch mentioned Michael Brown four times, painting the case as being on Michael Brown. It was “the shooting death of Michael Brown” and “the Michael Brown case,” but strangely it lacked something entirely: It made no mention of the person the grand jury was there to evaluate indicting, Darren Wilson. Mr. McCulloch discussed the role of the FBI, of how federal courts worked against state courts, but not a single mention of the man they were there to investigate.
In fact, going through the testimony, the first mention of Officer Wilson was done not by the prosecution, but by a witness, the on-scene medical examiner Sheila Whirley, who was the first person to examine Michael Brown’s body after the killing. The prosecutor spent a lot of time discussing various unrelated aspects of Michael Brown, discussing his tattoos, his clothing, with this witness. But whenever the witness questioning began leading to homicide, the prosecutor changed the topic to some element of Brown which was almost perfectly fit to try and present him as some form of social reject who was destined to become a criminal mastermind.
Continuing, the witnesses, the evidence — one would swear that this was a grand jury held to indict Michael Brown. The submitted evidence in the trial was overwhelmingly about Brown, with little evidence actually presented on Darren Wilson, the man the jury was there to determine indictments on. What did exist were a few medical reports and some police commentary on his behavior that day, which called him “disheveled” and claimed that was out of character for him.
Of note is one report that includes multiple statements by fellow officers on-scene, including Officer Wilson’s immediate supervisor, covering what Wilson had claimed happened, but there is evidence in there which hurts Officer Wilson’s case – namely his own police vehicle.
Multiple officers all reported that Officer Wilson’s vehicle was missing the front drivers side window, that it was shattered outward, and that blood was found on the outside of the vehicle. This directly contradicts Officer Wilson’s claims that Brown was assaulting him through his open window and that he fired his weapon in self-defense while being assaulted. If that is the case, how was his window blown out, from the inside? In addition, Wilson claimed to have fired two rounds from within his vehicle, but one of the empty shells was found outside of it, next to his vehicle. Taking Officer Wilson’s third-party statement on face value, it does not explain this.
But this is one minor entry put in reams of documentation on Michael Brown. At this time, no copy of Officer Wilson’s police record is clearly found within the evidence since released. There are three different narratives to be found as given by Wilson, with no indication which ones were given weight. The caller dispatch discredits the claim by Wilson that he was searching for the robbery suspect, or that he called in when he approached Michael Brown. Instead, dispatch was not notified of the shooting until much later.
Combining the evidence presented, the general lack of even mentioning the defendant at all, and that no explanation of the available charges for the grand jury were given, a picture is painted that the prosecution office was not there to indict Wilson at all. Having read the reports, and even taking Officer Wilson at his word, he still violated police protocol and should have been indicted on negligence based on a review of the evidence presented. Not a career ending situation, but one which would still have penalized him nonetheless. But the failure to even give instructions to the jury, and the presentation of a plethora of non-related material which dominated over the direct case material related to Darren Wilson, hurts any claims that it was a fair deliberation. Combine these facts with the suspected tampering and we have a case which is now blowing up in the system’s face.
The way in which the entire Michael Brown case has been handled is shameful. Even if Darren Wilson was indicted yesterday, the process was so badly mangled that it would have been a hollow victory. The way in which the prosecutor handled the case has now landed him in trouble with the National Bar Association, who released a statement pointing out the flaws in the manner which Bob McCulloch handled the case with the declaration that they are pushing for the Department of Justice to continue its own investigation.
Justice was not served, and the documentation released shows that the grand jury was not handled with due diligence. This is not the first case Bob McCulloch failed to handle properly. His history demonstrates a reluctance to hold police accountable. As the son of an officer killed in the line of duty, this can be somewhat understood, but his duty is to uphold the laws of the land, and if he was unable to handle the case to the fullest extent, he should have handed it to a special prosecutor, as the National Bar Association asked him to do.
Shame on Bob McCulloch. We expect better from those who are there to serve the public trust, for to violate that trust only brings ruin. Society exists on trust; it needs trust. By not pursuing this case properly, that trust is injured, if not shattered, for if we cannot trust the courts, who is left?