The former police officer who killed Black 18-year-old Michael Brown will not be criminally charged, the St. Louis prosecutor announced on Thursday (July 29). White ex-cop Darren Wilson fatally shot Brown — who was unarmed — in Ferguson, Missouri six years ago.
“This is one of the most difficult things I have had to do as an elected official,” St. Louis County prosecutor Wesley Bell said during a press conference, which marked the end of a five-month, independent review of Brown’s case.
After reviewing evidence and witness statements, Bell, who became St. Louis County’s first Black prosecutor back in 2018, said that his office was unable to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Wilson committed murder or manslaughter under Missouri law when he killed Brown. Wilson fatally shot Brown in the middle of a street inside the Canfield Green Apartment complex in August of 2014 and left the teenager’s body on the street for over four hours.
“The question of whether we can prove a case at trial is different than clearing him of any and all wrongdoing,” Bell continued. “There’s so many points at which Darren Wilson could have handled the case differently and if he had, Michael Brown might still be alive. But that is not the question before us. The only question is whether we can prove beyond a reasonable doubt that a crime occurred and the answer to that is no.”
Wilson resigned from the Ferguson Police Department back in November of 2014, after a grand jury declined to indict him. The U.S. Justice Department also declined to prosecute Wilson in 2015, citing witnesses and evidence that claimed Brown attacked the former officer.
Brown’s death sparked nationwide protests and the beginning of the Black Lives Matter movement. His name has also been chanted during recent protests, following the police killing of George Floyd. In 2017, Brown’s family received a $1.5 million settlement after suing the city. His parents have not yet publicly commented on the St. Louis County prosecutor’s new decision.