Criminal Justice

Ferguson cop won't face federal charge in Michael Brown's death; DOJ discounts surrender accounts

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The U.S. Justice Department has announced it won’t charge Ferguson, Missouri, police officer Darren Wilson with civil rights violations for the shooting death of unarmed teen Michael Brown.

A Justice Department report said no evidence disproved Wilson’s claim that he shot Brown because he feared for his safety when the teen charged him, report the New York Times, the Washington Post and CNN.

Some witnesses had claimed Brown had his hands up in a gesture of surrender when he was shot, but those accounts were not supported by DNA bloodstain evidence and accounts of other, credible witnesses, the report said. Some of the witnesses who said Brown had his hands up made inconsistent statements with no explanation, and some admitted they didn’t actually see what happened, the report said.

Wilson had said he first clashed with Brown when the youth reached inside Wilson’s vehicle and struggled to get his gun, an account supported by Brown’s DNA found inside the vehicle, the report said. Wilson said he shot Brown in the struggle, a statement supported by bullet trajectory evidence and the close-range gunshot wound to Brown’s hand.

Brown then ran, and Wilson chased him, but Wilson did not shoot Brown in the back as he was running away, the report said, citing autopsy results and the accounts of credible witnesses. Brown was shot after he turned around and moved back toward Wilson, the report said, citing bloodstain evidence and credible witnesses.

“While credible witnesses gave varying accounts of exactly what Brown was doing with his hands as he moved toward Wilson–ie, balling them, holding them out, or pulling up his pants–and varying accounts of how he was moving–i.e. ‘charging,’ moving in ‘slow motion’ or ‘running’–they all establish that Brown was moving toward Wilson when Wilson shot him,” the report said.

“Although some witnesses state that Brown held his hands up at shoulder level with his palms facing outward for a brief moment, these same witnesses describe Brown then dropping his hands and ‘charging’ at Wilson.”

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