“Cops give a damn about a Negro? Pull the trigger, kill a nigger, he's a hero.” – Tupac Shakur, from his song “Changes”
Citizens throughout the United States and across the globe that is planet Earth are justifiably outraged over the outcome of the farce that was the grand jury investigation of the Michael Brown shooting in Ferguson, Missouri. The fix was in from the moment Bob McCulloch took up the reins of the case that should have been the State v. Officer Darren Wilson over objections that he should recuse himself due to his many conflicts of interest.
Of its many shortcomings, the most glaring lack in this travesty of jurismisprudence was the complete absence of a prosecution. Atty. McCulloch may have played the role of St. Louis County Prosecutor but he did so in name only. In truth, Atty. McCulloch actually served as chief defense for the accused. Like playing oneself in chess but only putting in the best effort on one side of a game with a predetermined outcome.
A grand jury is not the venue in which the accused is supposed to make his or her defense, though they do have the right to make a statement in their own behalf. Though the jurors themselves are supposed to be objective in making the determination, the process through which the evidence is present itself is weighted in favor of the prosecution. That is because the purpose is to decide whether or not enough evidence exists to bring the case to trial, nothing more.
This basic fact is one reason that the burden of proof weighs so heavily upon the state in actual criminal trials; the prosecution gets a free hand in the indictment process.
Not only did Atty. McCulloch permit Officer Wilson to lay out his defense with no serious challenge, he himself vigorously cross-examined witnesses for the prosecution that contradicted in any way Wilson’s version of events. I say “witnesses for the prosecution” rather than “his witnesses” because clearly Atty. McCulloch had some goal other than successfully securing an indictment in mind.
That is not to say that Atty. McCulloch did not succeed in his goal. His manipulation of the jurors rewarded both himself and the accused with the “no true bill” he desired. The Ferguson grand jury process in this case was about as objective and unscripted as the 2003 Fox TV reality show Joe Millionaire.
That was not the fault of the grand jurors themselves; they were manipulated into reaching their decision the same way that the producers of the Fox show manipulated viewers into wishing for faux millionaire Evan Marriott to choose “girl-next-door” type Zora Andrich over the assertive, self-assured, and much more compatible Sarah Kozer.
One of the chief reasons many urged Atty. McCulloch to recuse himself was that his family resembles that of the Reagans on CBS’s Blue Bloods. His father was killed in the line of duty when he was fifteen and several others in his family are on-duty and retired officers.
Atty. McCulloch’s handling of another officer-involved incident casts some doubt on his internal motivation for deliberately tanking his own case was not “blue makes right”. When a different cop in St. Louis County, Officer Dawon Gore, brought before the grand jury, Atty. McCulloch actually did perform the duties of his office by vigorously pursuing an indictment of the accused, which he obtained this time, for felony assault.
There were a few differences. Officer Gore was working off-duty as a security officer at the time. He struck a passenger on the hand with a baton instead of shooting him five times. And Officer Gore is black, as is the still living injured passenger.
One might get the idea from juxtaposing Atty. McCulloch’s handling of Officer Gore’s case against that of Officer Wilson that perhaps the underlying motivation in his gross mishandling of the Michael Brown murder grand jury was not “blue makes right” but “white makes right”.
The easy softball questions which Atty. McCulloch pitched to Officer Wilson when he was at bat, so to speak, indicate that the former knew, or at least suspected, that the latter was completely in the wrong. Else he would have gone at him hammer and tong, doing everything humanly possible to disprove every single word, which is the only real way to prove a negative, or rather, to disprove its opposite beyond a reasonable doubt.
Let me cite an example from personal experience. I spent the last six months of my time in the Navy under investigation on suspicion of espionage. There was, of course, no real basis for the accusation, but the *Naval Investigative Service (NIS) still had to pursue it. After a short time, the officer in charge of the investigation realized the allegations were spurious and thus did his absolute best to prove them correct.
(*Now Naval Criminal Investigative Service, or NCIS)
The investigation covered hundreds of people including every single Filipino I knew (except the Mother Superior at the Benedictine convent in Angeles City), nearly everyone I ever served with, even people who had known me back home in high school and university. I was interrogated for four and a half days one week, with two more eight hour days to follow up. I was polygraphed not just once but three times. I even interviewed with a psychologist and took several lengthy batteries of tests.
In contrast to my case, this same investigator shortly before interviewed a murder suspect whom he knew was guilty for a mere half day. Early in the search for a mole in the US intelligence community in the late 1990’s who turned out to be FBI agent Robert Hansen, the investigators focused suspicion on a CIA officer, completely innocent as it turned out later, and interviewed him for a mere two days though they were sure they had their mole.
Because my case was still active when I left the Navy, with an honorable discharge I should stress, all the files were transferred to the FBI, who reviewed everything and confirmed the NIS agent’s opinion that the allegations were unfounded. The FBI agent who had taken the case over told me that the casework performed by the NIS agent and his crew was so thorough that there was nothing else that could have been done, and nothing having been found meant there was nothing left to find.
By not even really presenting a case, Atty. McCulloch did a disservice not only to the State of Missouri and the People thereof along with St. Louis County, most of all to Michael Brown’s family, he did a disservice to Officer Wilson by denying him the opportunity to put his case before the judgment of his peers in court.
Since Atty. McCulloch failed to present a case before the grand jury, I will here.
It’s not in dispute that Officer Darren Wilson shot unarmed teenager Mr. Michael Brown five times, causing his death.
According to the only other person at the beginning of the incident, Mr. Dorian *Johnson, he and Brown were strolling down the center of the street when Officer Wilson, coming from the direction in which they were headed, stopped beside them and told them to “Get the fuck on the sidewalk!”. The two replied that they were almost to the place to which they were going.
(* In the original, I mistakenly gave Dorian's last name as Jackson. My bad.)
(* In the original, I mistakenly gave Dorian's last name as Jackson. My bad.)
Officer Wilson then drove off, but made a sudden U-turn, passed them again, and pulled his car blocking their path in the center of the street directly in front of them. Officer Wilson then grabbed Mr. Brown and pulled him against to police vehicle to stress to the eighteen year old that he should immediately obey any order given him by a police officer.
A scuffle ensued in which Mr. Brown was shot once. He fled, and was pursued by Officer Wilson, who shot him once more. Upon this, Mr. Brown turned around, coming toward Officer Wilson with his hands up, according to ten witnesses out of twelve. Officer Wilson then shot Mr. Brown three more times.
The story that the Ferguson PD put out nearly a week afterward with an edited vidclip of a large black man they said was Michael Brown strong arm robbing a store was a hoax. In the whole scene, without the FPD's self-serving edit, the individual clearly pays for the cigars the FPD alleged he stole. Furthermore, the owner had not called 911 to report a robbery, and remains to this day of the opinion that the individual in question is not Michael Brown in any case. So the incident in the store is completely irrelevant.
Is there enough evidence to indict given an honest effort to do so by an attorney without ulterior motives? Yes, almost certainly. Would that be enough to convict beyond a reasonable doubt in court? Maybe, maybe not. I have no doubt that James Earl Ray killed Martin Luther King, but after watching the mock trial on HBO in 1993 in which the attorney acting for the prosecution presented all the evidence the government had against him, I could not have found him guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. Neither did the mock jury.
Unless the federal government take civil rights action, we will never known the truth about what happened or have closure as a nation or as a world, because Atty. McCulloch cheated us out of the opportunity for that. At the very least, it was prosecutorial misconduct, at most collusion with the defense against the interests of the state and the people.
Being afflicted with fear goggles is not sufficient reason to take another life, whether the person ending that life is a police officer or a citizen “standing one’s ground”. If you take a life because you are too proud to back down and walk away, you are a murderer. The first shot would have been enough to track down Mr. Brown had he gotten away, and he was no danger to anyone in the area nor has there been any indication that he was when Officer Wilson initiated the chain of events that led to Mr. Brown’s death.
One of the most used slogans and hashtags of the protestors against the Michael Brown shooting and McCulloch’s deliberate botching of the grand jury proceeding is that “Black Lives Matter” or #blacklivesmatter. The slogan has double-meaning. One is direct, because black lives do matter to any human with a soul. The other is ironic, because in America, in many respects, black lives do not matter at all. That is the lesson of Ferguson. That is the lesson of Michael Brown and Trayvon Martin and Tamir Rice and Kajieme Powell and Vonderrit Myers and Aiyana Stanley-Jones and Eric Cantor and Alonzo Heyward and John Henderson and Larry Powell and Eric Garner.
Strange fruit still hangs from the trees in the 21st century.
Maybe it’s time that Spring came to America.