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Prosecutor: No charges for officer in Michael Brown’s death. The county prosecutor announced his decision after quietly re-investigating the case in

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Prosecutor: No charges for officer in Michael Brown’s death
The county prosecutor announced his decision after quietly re-investigating the case in a five-month review.

St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Wesley Bell. | Jeff Roberson/AP Photo

By ASSOCIATED PRESS

07/30/2020 06:02 PM EDT

CLAYTON, Mo. — St. Louis County’s top prosecutor announced Thursday that he will not charge the former police officer who fatally shot Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, a dramatic decision that could reopen old wounds amid a renewed and intense national conversation about racial injustice and the police treatment of minorities.

It was nearly six years ago that a grand jury declined to indict Darren Wilson, the white police officer who shot Brown, a Black 18-year-old. Civil rights leaders and Brown’s mother had hoped that Prosecuting Attorney Wesley Bell, the county’s first Black prosecutor, would reopen the case after he took office in January 2019.


Bell announced his decision after quietly re-investigating the case in a five-month review.


The August 2014 police shooting touched off months of unrest in Ferguson, Missouri, and made the St. Louis suburb synonymous with a national debate over police treatment of minorities. The Ferguson unrest helped solidify the national Black Lives Matter movement that began after Trayvon Martin, a Black 17-year-old, was shot to death in Florida in 2012.

The issue has taken on new life since George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis in May after a white police officer pressed his knee into the handcuffed Black man’s neck for nearly eight minutes. Ferguson is among cities around the world that has seen protests since Floyd’s death.

Bell — who took office in January 2019 as a reform-minded prosecutor promising to eliminate cash bail for nonviolent offenders and to increase the use of programs that allow defendants to avoid jail time — faced no restrictions in re-examining Brown’s death for potential murder charges. Wilson was never charged and tried, so double jeopardy was not an issue. There is no statute of limitations on filing murder charges.

The shooting happened after Wilson told Brown and a friend to get out of the street as they walked down the middle of Canfield Drive on a Sunday afternoon. A scuffle between Wilson and Brown ensued, ending with the fatal shot. Wilson said Brown came at him menacingly, forcing him to fire his gun in self-defense.
 
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