As has been widely anticipated for weeks, the Ferguson MO Grand Jury has DECLINED to indict Police Officer Darren Wilson in the shooting death of black adult Michael Brown.

This result has not been unexpected, as the overwhelming weight of both the eye witness and forensic evidence has been entirely consistent with Officer Wilson’s narrative of self-defense, including:

  • Wilson being attacked by Brown and his accomplice Dorian Johnson in his patrol vehicle
  • a struggle over Wilson’s service pistol
  • shots fired inside the vehicle (which forensic examination confirmed caused a contact gun shot wound to Brown’s right hand)
  • the temporary flight of Brown upon those initial gunshots
  • the return of the 292 pound Brown re-engage the much smaller officer
  • the firing of additional defensive rounds as necessary to halt Brown’s violence

In contrast, the narratives put forward that might have favored an indictment were serially changed as each was proven inconsistent with the evidence:

  • Brown was shot in the back (there are no gun shot wounds to Brown’s back, and contrary to bulk of eye witness testimony)
  • Brown had his hands raised in surrender (inconsistent with forensics and bulk of eye witness testimony)
  • Brown was on his knees when Wilson simply executed him (inconsistent with forensics and bulk of eye witness testimony)

Underpinning all narratives of malice on the part of Wilson is, of course, allegations of racism, both on the part of Wilson and the Ferguson Police Department generally.  It had been widely reported, however, that more than a half-dozen black witnesses testified before the Grand Jury in a manner consistent with Wilson’s narrative of self-defense.

Further, Wilson himself appeared before the Grand Jury and testified for over four hours, without the benefit of legal counsel.

The Grand Jury’s own racial makeup is 9 white members and 3 black members. It takes a super-majority of 9 members to return an indictment.

The weeks following Brown’s August 9th death were filled with violent protests, including looting, rioting, and arson, with over 100 local businesses suffering financial loses as a result.  Protests of a lesser degree of violence–including protestor intimidation of local black politicians, attacks by black protestors upon white protestors, and bounties offered for Officer Wilson and his immediate family–have continued ever since.

Fear of renewed violence and property destruction following the Grand Jury’s decision are pervasive throughout Ferguson, with even local black-owned businesses boarding up their shops.

It has been widely anticipated that the Grand Jury’s expected no true bill would re-ignite the violence of the early days of the protest.  In preparation, MO Governor Jay Nixon (D) has declared a state of emergency and activated National Guard units, and local police departments throughout the state, and across the nation, have made preparations to deal with the anticipated disorder.

The immediate response of protestors to the Grand Jury’s decision has been . . .

It remains to be seen whether Protestors will adhere to their stated desire to simply “be heard” or whether they will once again resort to mob violence.  The fact that protestor ranks have been filled with professional protestors, such as Occupy veterans, trained for and committed to the substantial disruption of the communities they infest does not bode well for the safety of the people and property of Ferguson.

Some hope for minimized violence rests upon the unusually cold temperatures forecast for Ferguson in coming days.  Both common sense and scientific research support the notion that the frequency and intensity of riots correlates directly with increased temperature (thus declining with colder temperatures). See: Should weather dictate timing of #Ferguson Grand Jury Report release?

–-Andrew, @LawSelfDefense


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Andrew F. Branca is an MA lawyer and the author of the seminal book “The Law of Self Defense, 2nd Edition,” available at the Law of Self Defense blog (autographed copies available) and Amazon.com (paperback and Kindle). He also holds Law of Self Defense Seminars around the country, and provides free online self-defense law video lectures at the Law of Self Defense Institute and podcasts through iTunes, Stitcher, and elsewhere.