In an interview with a St. Louis radio station Friday, St. Louis County Prosecutor Bob McCulloch admitted he let witnesses who “clearly were not telling the truth” testify before a grand jury that decided not to indict former Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson. Wilson was facing possible charges for shooting and killing unarmed teenager Michael Brown in August. Last month, McCulloch announced the grand jury had reached ‘no true bill’ and Wilson would not be charged with any crime. Immediately following the decision’s announcement, violent protests shook Ferguson, and demonstrations took place nationwide in the subsequent days.
This was McCulloch’s first public interview since the press conference he held November 24th to announce the decision and take questions from hand-picked reporters. McCulloch has faced intense scrutiny and criticism not only for the way he handled the case, but for the way he decided to release the grand jury’s decision. It was widely believed that the St. Louis area would be given 24-48 hours notice ahead of the announcement, and it would be done during daytime hours. Instead, McCulloch waited until primetime on a Monday evening, after word was released earlier in the day that the decision had been reached. For an area on edge, it seemed like McCulloch did his level best to get the most violent reaction possible from people in Ferguson.
Speaking with KTRS’s McGraw Milhaven, McCulloch broke his silence and discussed the grand jury proceedings that led to Wilson’s non-indictment. Regarding recent news that at least one witness that testified to the grand jury obviously presented false testimony, McCulloch admitted to Milhaven that he knew he presented witnesses that lacked credibility to the grand jury. However, he was just doing what he promised to do at the beginning, which was present all of the evidence to the grand jury and let them decide. Therefore, he let anyone who came forward and said they were at the scene of the shooting speak before the grand jury, regardless of how sketchy their story appeared.
Well, early on, I decided that anyone who claimed to have witnessed anything was going to be presented to the grand jury. And I knew that no matter how I handled it, there would be criticism of it. So if I didn’t put those witnesses on, then we’d be discussing now why I didn’t put those witnesses on. Even though their statements were not accurate.
So my determination was to put everybody on and let the grand jurors assess their credibility, which they did. This grand jury poured their hearts and souls into this. It was a very emotional few months for them. It took a lot of them. I wanted to put everything on there. I thought it was much more important to present everything and everybody, and some that, yes, clearly were not telling the truth. No question about it.
Milhaven later asked McCulloch if he was thinking about charging anyone with perjury over their false testimony. This was an obvious reference to “Witness 40,’ who The Smoking Gun has identified as Sandra McElroy, a St. Louis woman who has a history of racism and making false statements. While McCulloch said he knew that some witnesses “absolutely lied under oath” and one particular witness “clearly wasn’t present when” the shooting happened, he would forego charging any witnesses with perjury.
Below is video of the entire interview, courtesy of KTRS:
Throughout the interview, McCulloch maintained that he not only did his job in presenting the evidence for a possible indictment, but went above and beyond by making sure the grand jury was given every possible piece of evidence and testimony to sift through. Which is, of course, the very problem in this instance. McCulloch essentially played defense attorney for Wilson and inundated the grand jury members with all sorts of testimony and evidence that could potentially sway any of them to see things one way or another. Hearsay, unreliable statements and witnesses who were completely lying were all placed before the jurors.
The whole world knows McCulloch did not want to indict a police officer and did his damnedest to allow Wilson to walk. The prosecutor made sure to concoct a scenario where Wilson was let off scot-free and he could claim he did what was necessary.
Justin Baragona is the Managing Editor at Politicus Sports as well as Senior Editor at PoliticusUSA. He was a political writer for 411Mania.com before joining PoliticusUSA. Politically, Justin considers himself a liberal but also a realist and pragmatist. Currently, Justin lives in St. Louis, MO and is married. Besides writing, he also runs his own business after spending a number of years in the corporate world. You can follow Justin on Twitter either with his personal handle (@justinbaragona) or the Sports site’s (@PoliticusSports).