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The Ferguson Grand Jury Decision — A Social Pearl Harbor

December 7, 1941, the date of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor is not the only ” horrific event that can be characterized, as it was at the time by President Roosevelt, as “A date which will live in infamy.”

Add Monday, November 24th, to that infamous roster. That’s the date of America’s own social Pearl Harbor. A day that gave permission for a law enforcement officer to empty his gun into the body of a “scary” black kid, Michael Brown, who allegedly wouldn’t stop walking down the street toward Darren Wilson.

An August 9th store video of an initial criminal act by Brown shows him entering a convenience store, reaching into a bin of small packaged cigars or cigarillos and grabbing about $50 worth, handing some of the loot off to an accomplice. The pair then proceeds to walk directly to the door without paying. The owner of the store (or clerk; it’s not clear), a man of slight build, attempts to hold the door shut and is easily pushed aside by Brown, who then takes a couple of menacing steps towards the man before casually exiting. I saw the entire episode on video, as can you here. Brown did not brandish a weapon because he had no weapon to brandish.

Even progressives like me must concede that this was a menacing confrontation for the convenience store clerk or proprietor. Brown was a 280 pound 18-year-old who appeared to outweigh this fellow by a good 150 pounds. He also had a partner with him. It was, in all honesty, a frightening episode for the victim. No question Brown deserved to be arrested. Any objective observer will attest to that. There is also no question that Brown did not deserve the deadly and totally unnecessary response that followed.

Wearing a readily identifiable red cap and white tee, Brown was an easy guy to spot. He and his partner, 22-year-old Dorian Johnson, were subsequently spotted walking in the middle of a street about ten minutes after the fact of the store theft. Darren Wilson, a 28-year-old white police officer, drove up and told them to get on the sidewalk. Wilson was following up on the convenience store incident. According to Johnson, in an interview with MSNBC, they complied. Wilson started to drive away but (maybe realizing Brown was his suspect),suddenly threw his car in reverse and, again, according to Johnson, had some sort of verbal beef with Brown that turned physical. They apparently scuffled after Johnson claimed the officer grabbed Brown by the neck. At this point, Brown was shot, but not seriously wounded.

Both men started to run and Brown was shot a second time. He then turned around, hands in the air and said “I don’t have a gun. Stop shooting.” At this point Wilson approached Brown and fired more shots, killing him. That’s Johnson’s story. The official version varies considerably, not only from the partner’s version, but from most eyewitness accounts.

It took hours from the release of the grand jury decision to the final public revelation of what that decision determined. There were five options; first or second-degree murder, voluntary or involuntary manslaughter or a return of no indictment, No True Bill in legalese. The latter prevailed.

When the St. Louis County Prosecutor, Democrat Robert McCulloch, finally faced the media, the outcome was a foregone conclusion. CNN reported that had an indictment been handed down, Wilson would have immediately been told to surrender to authorities. His people told a CNN reporter that he hadn’t been asked to surrender, so the reporter surmised correctly that Wilson would face no charges. Good reporting.

Prosecutor McCulloch is a familiar face in St. Louis County circles. He’s in his 7th term, having been initially elected in 1991. There’s really only one thing you need know about Robert McCulloch. He’ll lie…like a dog. In 2000, two unarmed black men were shot to death by two undercover police officers in a fast-food parking lot in Berkeley, Missouri.

The officers told a McCulloch grand jury at the time that the victims drove their car at them. McCulloch repeated the line to the media. They escaped indictment. A St. Louis Post-Dispatch reporter, in examining grand jury tapes that McCulloch had provided revealed that only 3 of 13 officers testified that the car was moving at all. These men were killed in cold blood after being shot at 21 times. A federal investigation verified the true story, but nonetheless also declined to press charges as the armed undercovers convinced the feds they “feared for their safety.”

The press conference was a farce. McCulloch spent the lion’s share of his time calling virtually every witness a liar. He kept saying the physical evidence refuted the witnesses. He didn’t give a clue as to what the “physical evidence” was. He said some witnesses said Brown was shot in the back, when three separate autopsies clearly showed he was shot in the front only. And he’s right. A private autopsy by the Brown family also found all bullet wounds in the front. So??? He was clearly shot. Two bullets found his head, a couple of others pierced his chest, plus a couple of graze wounds. An estimated 12 rounds were fired.

Here’s some questions reasonable people would ask. Let’s assume Brown is, indeed, somewhat of a desperado. Twelve rounds? Wouldn’t officer Wilson be carrying defensive weaponry beyond a gun (and by the way, for most officers, a knife)? What else was he packing? A Taser is designed to disable the bad guy at a distance; a stun gun up close and personal. There’s also pepper spray, and various batons. Surely Wilson had one or more of these alternatives.

If you’ve ever watched the TV show “Cops,” you’re aware that the typical ‘cop’ runs into similar situations every shift or two, especially with drunks. One too many and even your most meek accountant is swinging on the guy with the badge. Domestic violence calls are every bit as iffy and dangerous. And doesn’t Wilson have the first minute of self-defense training?

There was absolutely no reason to kill Michael Brown. As a media person, I took many a ‘cop ride’ and watched numerous incidents the equal to or worse than Michael Brown. Once, a stolen car was reported and the one-officer car I was in gave chase after it zipped around us at about the same time we heard the report on the police radio. We cornered it on a side street and the young, buff driver (car thief) fled. The cop, not as young or buff, gave chase. I didn’t know whether I would add to liability concerns or not, but thought “what the hell.” As I approached, the suspect was already cuffed and subdued.

Another time, I was downing a few when the village bully and idiot drunkenly started knocking people off their bar stools. As I headed for Duane (you know who you are), a smallish cop ran by me and got knocked down for his trouble as well. He got up and wrestled this goofball to the floor and cuffed him.

I’ve just begun the process of reading the grand jury testimony and evidence and will have another contribution soon. I’m also hitting Twitter again.

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