Probe finds insufficient evidence to charge Darren Wilson

22 Jan 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Justice Department moving to close investigation into Michael Brown shooting.

Darren Wilson — the Ferguson, Missouri, police officer who sparked national outrage when he fatally shot unarmed black teenager Michael Brown — will not be charged for civil rights abuses by the Department of Justice, the New York Times reported Wednesday. Officials say the department is drafting a memo recommending no charges be brought against the white officer involved in the shooting that prompted protests across the country. The newspaper’s report cites unnamed law enforcement sources as saying the investigation by the FBI found no evidence to support such charges against Wilson, whose fatal shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown on Aug. 9 touched off protests and civil unrest in Ferguson and around the nation.

Attorney General Eric Holder has said that he planned to close both the civil rights investigation of Wilson and the investigation of the 2012 shooting of Florida teenager Trayvon Martin by George Zimmerman before leaving the department. The investigation into the shooting, which prompted months of unrest, was largely completed weeks ago, said the officials, who were not authorized to speak publicly. Federal investigators conducted a thorough review of the evidence, interviewing more than 200 individuals and analyzing cellphone video and audio, the Times reported.

The timing of his departure is dependent on the confirmation of nominee Loretta Lynch, who is scheduled for hearings next week before the Senate Judiciary Committee. When a local grand jury opted to not indict Wilson in November, the Justice Department investigation remained a hope for Brown’s family and others who believed Wilson should be charged in Brown’s death. Civil rights charges in the past have been brought in high-profile, police-involved cases with racial overtones — specifically the 1991 Rodney King beating, which resulted in federal convictions for two of the four Los Angeles officers charged.

Justice Department officials have said that in both cases, after local grand juries declined to indict, investigators must meet a high legal bar to charge officers with civil rights violations. “We may have different takes on the events of Ferguson and New York,” Obama said. “But surely we can understand a father who fears his son can’t walk home without being harassed. Benjamin Crump, an attorney for Michael Brown’s family, told USA TODAY Wednesday that neither he nor the Brown family has been informed of the Justice Department’s decision. “The last we heard from them, they were still investigating,” Crump said. “We won’t respond to rumors and speculation because it’s too much to put the family through. Louis County grand jury decision in November, followed closely by a December Staten Island, N.Y., grand jury decision to clear a white officer in the choke-hold death of another black man, Eric Garner, touched off national protests and a re-examination of police tactics and law enforcement’s interactions with minority communities.

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