Ferguson In Flames After St. Louis County Prosecutor Bob McCulloch Lights The Match

bob mcullochedited

As of early Tuesday morning, details were still emerging regarding the damage caused in Ferguson by unrest and violence in the aftermath of the announcement that the St. Louis County grand jury had decided not to indict Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson on any charges. Wilson shot and killed unarmed 18-year-old Michael Brown on August 9th. Shortly after St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Bob McCulloch made the public announcement at 9:30 PM ET, protests in Ferguson turned violent, as numerous businesses were ransacked and burned. At least two police cars were torched.

It needs to be said — McCulloch is largely responsible for the current situation in Ferguson. Sure. He isn’t out there throwing Molotov cocktails or chucking rocks at police or busting into stores. However, the way the man has handled this whole situation, all the way down to the way he announced the ‘no true bill’ from the grand jury, is most likely the leading cause of the tense state of affairs in the St. Louis area. The feeling all along was that McCulloch’s complete lack of objectivity  would prevent him from bringing up charges against a police officer. McCulloch’s father was a police officer who was killed in the line of duty in 1964. Most of McCulloch’s immediate family have served as police officers.

In the past, McCulloch has declined to bring up charges in other police involved shootings that seemed on the outside to show excessive or unlawful use of force. One prime example occurred in 2000, when McCulloch presented a case to the grand jury, much like he did with the Brown killing. Based on the evidence he presented, the grand jury declined to charge police officers in the shooting deaths of two unarmed black men. The shooting happened during an undercover drug purchase at a local Jack in the Box. The way McCulloch presented that evidence made it appear that the officers were completely justified in their actions. After that grand jury decided not to indict, McCulloch stated that he agreed with the decision.

In the Brown case, people who remembered the Jack in the Box situation, and other instances of McCulloch’s chumminess with local law enforcement, called on McCulloch to recuse himself. However, he refused to do so, and Missouri Governor Jay Nixon also decided against removing him from investigating the case. Therefore, we ended up with what we saw Monday night, which was a man defiantly telling an entire community that Darren Wilson was justified in killing an unarmed black man. McCulloch, who delayed the plannned announcement by more than three hours, gave a long, rambling speech where he sounded more like Wilson’s defense attorney than a prosecutor who was trying to bring charges against him.

Below is video of McCulloch’s speech, courtesy of C-SPAN:




The very tone of McCulloch’s announcement basically came across as a big “Screw you!” to the local black community. After announcing the decision, he took questions from handpicked reporters that were allowed in the room with him. Throughout, he remained defiant and seemed generally unconcerned how this decision will impact the area. He claimed that he had presented the evidence as needed to the grand jury and was being transparent as possible. To prove his point, he provided a huge information dump to media, providing all of the evidence to papers and news stations.

Of course, what should be pointed out is just how rare it is for a prosecutor not to have a grand jury return at least some recommendation of charges when a case is presented. The cliche goes that a prosecutor can get a grand jury to “indict a ham sandwich.” Ben Casselman at FiveThirtyEight provided some valuable insight into this Monday night. In his article, Casselman showed that out of 162,000 federal cases that were brought before a grand jury in 2010 (last year of full data), only 11 did not return with an indictment. Numerous legal analysts also stated that it was highly unusual for McCulloch to present evidence to the grand jury without providing a recommendation for specific charges.

It seems obvious to many that McCulloch had no intention of ever bringing charges against Wilson. Being that Missouri law gives police quite a bit of leeway in the use of deadly force, McCullouch was always going to be able to point to the law and say nothing could really be done. As a prosecutor, he makes for a very good defense attorney. Especially when it comes to protecting the shield.

19 Replies to “Ferguson In Flames After St. Louis County Prosecutor Bob McCulloch Lights The Match”

  1. It’s not unusual in a political case to present evidence to the grand jury the way he did. For one, it takes the onus off the prosecutor. In normal cases, the prosecutor seeks a specific indictment … and he gets it because he chooses what evidence to present. This is not a normal case, so those stats go out the window. In this case, he did not seek a charge, and he let the jury see all (almost all?) the evidence and decide for themselves. In this case, the indictment depends on the evidence and the jury.

  2. It’s not the black citizens of Ferguson, MO (or anywhere) that is to blame. It’s the sustained, unmitigated, full on hatred of them that causes this kind of violence and mistrust of institutions.

  3. I have never seen a prosecutor so happy to have failed to get an indictment. Doesn’t this mean he failed to do a good job. Well he will still get paid and he and his family will continue to live their lives. Hopefully when he is up for re-election these people will get together and vote him out. That is if they are allowed to vote. They could pass a law to prevent that too.

  4. I just can’t get past why Wilson couldn’t shoot to stop instead of kill. Why not go for the legs, the knees? Because he had no self-possession, that’s why. No one with that lack of control should be a cop. mho Cops have been given a license to kill for the least threat, no discernment necessary. That’s terrifying.

  5. Witness #40

    I’ve been reading through the Ferguson grand jury doc dump released by Mr. McCullough; the documents are housed at the St. Louis public radio station here. The oddest thing I’ve seen so far is the account of Witness #40, who just happened to set out on a journey of racial self-discovery on the very morning of August 9, 2014, the day Mike Brown was killed.

    By a series of amazing coincidences, this person magically ended up witnessing events, and his or her perspective aligned perfectly with Officer Wilson’s account. Witness #40’s testimony comes in the form of handwritten journal entries, which you can view for yourself here. Here’s how it starts:

  6. What a strange spectacle. Prosecutor acting as the defense. I would love to have some video of his performance before the grand jury.

    A prosecutor’s job is to seek indictment. He, from the very beginning, was clearly seeking to persuade the grand jury to NOT indict.

    As the story notes, he has a history of doing this.

  7. Note that the St. Louis community at large, especially Ferguson, were set up by the “timing” of the verdict being announced–9:30 PM??! Oh please…how predictable can you be?

    This was a set up–everyone knew GJ was never going to indict; everyone knew they would waited to announce the verdict in the dark on purpose, just added to the drama, trauma, media circus.

    St Louis is primarily composed of mobile middle-class white flight, low-class white trash (KKK) and upper class social bigotry. These families have been passing-off their dirty racism to their off-spring generation after generation;
    VERY stratified culture. I got out early and never went back; it’s never changed.

    Now, the white community can say, “See? That’s exactly what WE knew THEY would do”. The black community, same exact words. Everybody knew. It was no secret.
    It played out in as it always does the– “Veiled Prophet”* is alive and well.

    *look it up for yourselves.

  8. The saying that Grand Jury will indict “a ham sandwich” tells me this GJ thought of Michael Brown less than a slab of meat.

    I tuned into C-span last night, thy have call-in from around the nation. You could tell the political and racial divide is alive and well in America. Most callers said that M. Brown was a “thug, criminal and he “robbed a store”.

    I am sorry but this country is not about freedom, compassion or god. This a police state country and run by the Robber-Barons of the Eighteenth and Nineteenth century.

  9. I asked where my comment on Hrafnell’s column went and here it is on this story. How in the world did that happen?

  10. It’s the way they planned it all along. Get them riled up & mad..make them wait..let the steam build up..slap them in the face with the “ha ha we aint gonna endict” at 9pm! Bigots on the right will only concentrate on the damage done not the unjustied decision by this piece of crap public attorney who has a personal vendetta against blacks. A vendetta to fullfil to make sure he hurts even more black people to justify his dad’s death. This man should be RECALLED or STEP DOWN..he created this madness on purpose! These people will never see themselves as hateful racists until they see their own WHITE SONS shot down in the streets like dogs like black and Mexican youth are. Your racism speaks volumes and is truly ALIVE and being fed by the GOP daily to enhance its strength of hate against minorities and LGBT anyone nonwhite! You will pay one day

  11. Given the proportions of his inflated ego, McCulloch will undoubtedly see no reason to ‘step down.’ But he certainly should BE stepped down… by his superiors. Inadequate, indefensible work & the governor should encourage him to seek employment in the private sector. Soon.

  12. It seems the GJ didn’t take into account every single bullet that entered Brown’s body. Had they done that they should have come up with probable cause to indict. They would have us believe that Wilson still feared for his life after shooting Brown 3 or 4 times while he was falling to his death. It’s those last shots fired that give us REAL probable cause for indictment. How do you fear for your life from somebody who is falling to their death?

  13. It was the demon in Mike Brown. See after watching TV and Hollywood over all these years real Americans believe you just cant stop a demon with one shot

  14. Maybe the police(like Wilson), and gun nuts need to turn their horded silver into bullets to protect against the evil masses.

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