A lot has been said about the shoddy way St. Louis prosecutor Bob McCullough handled his obligations to see justice done in the case of Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson shooting unarmed teenager Michael Brown. Many reporters and law experts have noted how McCulloch had, from the very beginning, seemed almost eager to let Darren Wilson off the hook.
That intuition seemed confirmed during McCulloch’s announcement that the grand jury – typically just a formality before going to trial – had found no reason to charge Darren Wilson of any crime. During his statement, McCulloch spent a great deal of time attacking Michael Brown (the victim), attacking the media for covering the case in a way that didn’t presume Wilson’s innocence, and discrediting any witness who had made a statement contrary to Wilson’s own account of what happened. It was a dog and pony show, and everyone from the National Bar Association to Nancy Grace knew it.
Defenders of McCulloch cite the fact that, right or wrong, police officers are almost impossible to indict or convict. Their jobs put them in situations where they need to make quick judgments and they are given wide leeway in performing in that capacity. Darren Wilson, so the thinking goes, should be given the same benefit of the doubt that any other cop would get, despite the national attention.
Except that McCulloch just agreed to go forward with the criminal charges against another cop, this one black, who is accused of hitting a suspect on the hand with his baton during an arrest. CBS News reports:
A 13-year veteran of the St. Louis County Police Department is charged with felony assault after striking a MetroLink passenger on the hand with his expandable baton following an argument.
The county Prosecuting Attorney’s Office on Friday charged 44-year-old Dawon Gore of Ferguson with second-degree assault. He was jailed on a $3,500, cash-only bond.
While it appears that if the charges are accurate, Gore does deserve to be held accountable for his assault on a suspect, his crime seems leagues below that of which Wilson stands accused. An officer hitting a commuter on the hand is abuse, but murdering an unarmed kid in broad daylight is on another level. Gore will get to have his day in court, while Wilson goes from highly publicized interviews with all the major networks pretending he is the victim in all of this.
It highlights the frustrating lack of justice being given to the friends and family of Michael Brown. The circumstances surrounding Brown’s death are still very muddled. The grand jury evidence gives us little in the way of answers. There are witnesses who stand by statements that contradict Wilson’s account. There is good reason to believe at least some of what Wilson said happened, may not have happened. There is a ton of circumstantial evidence that cries out to be further analyzed.
Vox writer Ezra Klein summed it up brilliantly:
But on Monday night, St. Louis County prosecutor Robert McCulloch released the evidence given to the grand jury, including the interview police did with Wilson in the immediate aftermath of the shooting. And so we got to read, for the first time, Wilson’s full, immediate account of his altercation with Brown.
And it is unbelievable.
I mean that in the literal sense of the term: “difficult or impossible to believe.” But I want to be clear here. I’m not saying Wilson is lying. I’m not saying his testimony is false. I am saying that the events, as he describes them, are simply bizarre. His story is difficult to believe.
So many questions. None of them answered. All of these things deserve to be scrutinized in a court, with Wilson faced with a jury of his peers. He may be innocent, but to not even bother to find out is criminal in and of itself. If a man getting hit on the hand is afforded the full power of this nation’s laws, surely a dead teenager does as well.