We keep hearing about police plans to respond to protests in Ferguson, Missouri if the grand jury investigating Officer Darren Wilson’s shooting of Michael Brown decides not to return an indictment.
On the other hand, if the grand jury decides to indict Wilson, there would be a warrant for his arrest, and that would mean there’s officially an accused murderer on the loose. And we know he’s got access to weapons, training, and an undisputed willingness to kill, right? So how come we haven’t heard anything about the plans to send SWAT teams to capture him?
Obviously, no one expects Darren Wilson to be indicted. The other clue is that it’s taking so long for the grand jury to announce a decision. If anyone in the prosecutor’s office really thought Wilson was a murderer, do you think they would have allowed him to remain on the streets for three months?
As Jeff Gamso points out, this is a slam-dunk indictment if the prosecutor wants it to be. If you or I had shot Michael Brown, the grand jury proceedings would have gone something like this:
- Present witness Dorian Johnson, who was present at the shooting, and have him repeat his statements to the media describing how Darren Wilson shot an unarmed Michael Brown in cold blood.
- Present the medical finding that Brown was shot six times and that he died from the shots.
I’m no lawyer, but I’m pretty sure that’s enough for a murder indictment. There’s no need for cross examination or hearing from the other side. Grand juries proceedings are not a trial, they are the threshold over which an accusation must pass to get to a trial, and it’s a very low threshold. The grand jury just has to think it deserves a trial.
Of course, for them to do that, the prosecutor would have to want them to.