Six years after Michael Brown was shot dead by a Missouri police officer in a death that rocked the nation, prosecutors announced no criminal charges will be filed against the former officer after the case was reviewed.
Wesley Bell, St. Louis County’s top prosecutor, announced the news Thursday, saying that after his office reviewed evidence, witness statements and forensic reports over the span of five months, they couldn’t prove beyond reasonable doubt that the former officer who shot Brown, Darren Wilson, committed murder or manslaughter under Missouri law.
”This is one of the most difficult things I have had to do as an elected official," Bell said at press conference.
Bell, who is the county’s first Black prosecutor, said the investigation doesn’t completely exonerate Wilson of wrongdoing.
"There's so many points at which Darren Wilson could have handled the case differently, and if he had, Michael Brown might still be alive. But that is not the question before us. The only question is whether we can prove beyond a reasonable doubt that a crime occurred, and the answer to that is no," Bell said.
Brown was shot and killed on Aug. 9 2014, while he was walking with a friend on the street in Ferguson. A fight ensued between Brown and Wilson, and Brown was shot six times. He was unarmed. Brown’s body was left in the street for hours after the shooting, angering many.
Brown's death sparked national outrage and protests against police brutality and continued to ignite the Black Lives Matter movement, which first came about after the death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in Florida in 2012. The movement has recently been pushed back to the forefront with the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery.
A jury in 2014 chose not to indict Wilson, but he then resigned. In 2015, the U.S. Justice Department also chose not to prosecute Wilson, saying that there was evidence that Brown attacked Wilson. The department did acknowledge the racial bias in Ferguson Police Dept. and court systems in a a report, though.
Bell added that he knows this wasn’t the outcome Brown’s family was looking for.
“…Their pain will continue forever,” he said.