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DOJ will absolve Ferguson police

Found no violation in Michael Brown case

OW Staff Writer | 1/22/2015, midnight

According to law enforcement officials, the Justice Department intends to announce that former police officer Darren Wilson will not face civil rights charges over the death of Michael Brown.

Wilson, a White male, shot and killed Brown, who was Black, in August. Brown was not armed.

“Two law enforcement sources tell National Public Radio they see no way forward to file criminal civil rights charges” against Wilson, NPR’s Carrie Johnson reports. She adds, “Those charges would require authorities to prove the officer used excessive force and violated Brown’s constitutional rights.”

The development was first reported by The New York Times, which explains prosecutors are preparing a memo that will soon close the case.

The Justice Department is wrapping up an investigation into the events that transpired in Ferguson, Mo., where Michael Brown, 18, was killed during an encounter with Wilson.

The incident triggered weeks of protests and confrontations between demonstrators and police. Tension escalated following a grand jury’s decision not to indict Wilson based on insufficient evidence related to the case. Within days of that decision, Wilson resigned from the police force in Ferguson, a suburb of St. Louis.

Attorney General Eric Holder has said the federal investigation is being kept independent from local prosecutors.

”And although federal civil rights law imposes a high legal bar in these types of cases, we have resisted forming premature conclusions,” Holder said, as NPR’s Carrie Johnson reported in late November.

Although on the surface it seems that Wilson is walking away from the matter unscathed, another federal investigation is ongoing. That effort focuses on whether the Ferguson Police Department might itself be guilty of discrimination.

Some in the community viewed Brown’s killing as the latest in a series of “illegal and harmful [police] practices,” as a public defender group told NPR’s Joseph Shapiro in late August.

”To understand some of the distrust of police that has fueled protests in Ferguson, Mo., consider this: In 2013, the municipal court in Ferguson—a city of 21,135 people—issued 32,975 arrest warrants for nonviolent offenses, mostly driving violations.”

In conjunction with these findings, Shapiro reported:

”Blacks make up 67 percent of the city’s population, but are 86 percent of motorists stopped by police. Whites make up 29 percent of the population, but 12.7 percent of vehicle stops.”

Another demographic detail that raised residents’ suspicions: the majority of Ferguson’s police officers are White, while the majority of the town’s residents are Black.