Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Ferguson: Disappointment, but No Surprise

by Pa Rock
Citizen Journalist

The Missouri grand jury investigating the shooting death of an unarmed black teenager by a Ferguson city policeman has concluded its business and chosen not to indict the police officer, Darren Wilson, in the death of Michael Brown.  As the news of the grand jury proceeding slowly leaks out into the cold light of day, it becomes apparent that stories changed with the frequency of a cat or an inebriated house guest playing with the remote control.  But regardless of what standards the grand jury employed in gathering and evaluating information, the reality is that it has finished its business and the shooter-cop will face no consequences - at least at the state level.

At one point in his testimony, Officer Wilson apparently described his victim as a "demon."  I would hate to think that there are police in my little community carrying firearms and military hardware who are fixated with "demons."  That particular terminology might have been helpful to Wilson's case if there were any fundamentalist Christians sitting on the grand jury - and in Missouri that is a likelihood.

But - it's over.  The decision was not a surprise, and indeed some news reports two days ago suggested that police in Ferguson and areas around St. Louis were warning gun shop owners to take measures to protect their merchandise because they had advance word that Officer Wilson was not going to be indicted.  The decision was not a surprise, but it was disappointing.  Police shootings of black children, and black teens, and even black adults has become the twentieth-first century version of lynchings.  The shootings are street justice with no appeal - and no consequences.

America should be a much better place than that.

1 comment:

Xobekim said...

Over? This is seriously not over. There are no statutes of limitations for homicide in Missouri. Jeopardy does not attach to Grand Jury proceedings. This is only over if the disenfranchised fail to register, vote, and replace this prosecuting attorney.

And about the demon comment, such characterizations would not be allowed at trial.

And about the transcripts, think about that. Grand Jury proceedings are secret. There is no statute allowing a prosecuting attorney to keep a record of testimony before the Grand Jury. Why? Because the only reason we make a record in the law is to be able to make an appeal. There is no appeal from a Grand Jury.

Consider the oath of the Grand Jurors, Section 540.080.1, RSMo:"Do you solemnly swear you will diligently inquire and true presentment make, according to your charge, of all offenses against the laws of the state committed or triable in this county of which you have or can obtain legal evidence; the counsel of your state, your fellows and your own, you shall truly keep secret? You further swear that you will present no one for any hatred, malice or ill will; neither will you leave unpresented any one for love, fear, favor or affection, or for any reward or the hope or promise thereof, but that you will present things truly as they come to your knowledge, to the best of your understanding, according to the laws of this state, so help you God."

Further in Section 540.320.1 RSMo, disclosure of the evidence by a Grand Juror is a punishable offense: " No grand juror shall disclose any evidence given before the grand jury, nor the name of any witness who appeared before them, except when lawfully required to testify as a witness in relation thereto; nor shall he disclose the fact of any indictment having been found against any person for a felony, not in actual confinement, until the defendant shall have been arrested thereon. Any juror violating the provisions of this section shall be deemed guilty of a class A misdemeanor."

Over? This isn't over.