In a two hour long meeting at the St. Louis headquarters of the FBI, officials from the U.S. Department of Justice informed the parents of Michael Brown that there will be no federal criminal charges against former-Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson. Michael Brown Sr. left the meeting halfway through, according to his wife, Cal.
"Of course my husband is heart broken," said Michael Brown Sr.'s wife Cal. "My husband wasn't really able to stomach sitting in its entirety so we left...he said he couldn't stand to hear them go through the evidence like that."
"They're pretty disappointed," said president of the local St. Louis NAACP chapter Adolphus Pruitt, who was also in the meeting. "It was two hours of getting disappointing news, and a vivid debate and discussion on the merits of their decision and the demerits of the decision."
Mother Lesley McSpadden and father Michael Brown Sr. were both in attendance with their spouses, as well as their legal team, including attorneys Benjamin Crump and Anthony Gray. Pruitt said the attorneys questioned DOJ representatives vigorously.
"There are still a number of issues and questions that the Brown family attorneys raised that sort of went unanswered, but I think all in all, the overall the tone of the meeting was more of supporting the version of Darren Wilson's statement versus presenting evidence to disprove it," said Pruitt.
The family, the attorneys and the NAACP were provided copies of the 86-page report on what happened on August 9, 2014, when Wilson shot unarmed Brown in the middle of Canfield Drive in Ferguson. Pruitt said the DOJ committed to following up with all parties once they've had a chance to pore over the findings.
"They would provide for follow-up meetings and discussions of its content and they will be open to receiving any additional evidence that would point out any deficiencies or any errors that they made in their report," he added.
One crucial point -- the DOJ investigation found that Wilson stopped Brown because he was aware that the teen may have been involved in a robbery at Ferguson Market and Liquor. Ferguson Police Chief Thomas Jackson had at one time informed the public that Wilson did not know about the incident, but the federal report refutes that.
"According to Wilson's statement to prosecutors and investigators, he suspected that Brown and Witness 101 were involved in the incident at Ferguson Market based on the descriptions he heard on the radio and the cigarillos in Brown's hands," the report reads.
If that is true, Pruitt said the DOJ explained, then Wilson could not be found to have stopped Brown based on a racial bias.
While the decision not to charge Wilson federally does not come as a shock -- the likely outcome was leaked to the press back in January -- the family is still grieving. The parents released this statement, jointly:
"Today we received disappointing news from the Department of Justice that the killer of our son wouldn't be held accountable for his actions.
While we are saddened by this decision, we are encouraged that the DOJ will hold the Ferguson Police Department accountable for the pattern of racial bias and profiling they found in their handling of interactions with people of color.
It is our hope that through this action, true change will come not only in Ferguson, but around the country.
If that change happens, our son's death will not have been in vain."
Read the whole report here:
Email the author at Jessica.Lussenhop@RiverfrontTimes.com.
Support Local Journalism.
Join the Riverfront Times Press Club
Local journalism is information. Information is power. And we believe everyone deserves access to accurate independent coverage of their community and state. Our readers helped us continue this coverage in 2020, and we are so grateful for the support.
Help us keep this coverage going in 2021. Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing membership pledge, your support goes to local-based reporting from our small but mighty team.
Join the Riverfront Times Club for as little as $5 a month.