The Ferguson Shooting: A Grand Jury Review

The fatal shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri on August 9, 2014, continues to feature prominently in the media today. The subsequent grand jury hearing created additional controversy, but it was particularly unique in that the St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office released the transcripts to the public. This release of information provides a unique opportunity to learn about the grand jury and review the evidence that it considered.

This article seeks to introduce the reader to the grand jury process itself, and give a coherent account of the evidence that was presented to the grand jury. It is not an attempt to decide which version of events was credible, or whether the grand jury reached the right decision. Instead, this article will hopefully allow readers to better understand the grand jury process and learn about the case. To make the article more visually appealing, citations have been omitted; please feel free to request specific citations or a copy of the abstract.

Meet the Grand Jury

Generally speaking, Missouri law requires that a prosecutor begin a felony case by filing an information or an indictment. This creates a check on the power of the prosecuting authority by ensuring that probable cause exists to support the proposed charges. If the prosecutor proceeds by information, then a hearing is held in open court by a judge with the accused present. To proceed by indictment, the prosecutor presents the case in private to the grand jury. The grand jury may subsequently approve charges, whereupon it will return a bill of indictment to the court to be filed. The prosecutor decides how the case should proceed; the accused has no right to request one method over the other.

In both an information and an indictment, the issue remains the same: whether there is probable cause to support the proposed charges. In Missouri, the prosecution may not file an information and indictment at the same time; they must choose to proceed by one method. Should the charges be rejected by the court or grand jury, the prosecutor is free to start again by filing a new information or seeking a new indictment. Double jeopardy is not an issue, and in Missouri the statute of limitations does not apply to murder.

The grand jury is a democratic institution consisting of members of the community. In Missouri, a judge will order that prospective jurors be randomly selected from a master jury list. Those prospective jurors then fill out a juror qualification form and later come to court (unless notified of disqualification). The judge will then form the grand jury by selecting grand jurors and alternates (back-up jurors) from the group of prospectives. In Missouri, grand juries only contain twelve jurors; in this case, there were no alternate jurors.

The judge retains the authority to convene and adjourn the grand jury, and it meets to regularly to hear proposed charges. The hearings are done in private, outside the presence of the accused and his attorney. Witnesses can be compelled to appear before the grand jury, and testimony is given under oath. Nobody outside of the jury is present during the deliberations, and nine of the twelve jurors must agree before a charge is approved (returning a true bill). When a grand jury returns a true bill, it presents a bill of indictment to the court that is then filed.

In this particular case, the prosecution asked the jury to consider whether there was probable cause to support various theories of murder and manslaughter. The jury further considered whether there was probable cause to believe that the accused did not act in lawful self defence, and did not use lawful force to effect an arrest. Generally, prosecutors review the evidence and decide to proceed with a charge prior to appearing before the grand jury; in the instant case, it does not appear that such a review took place, and the prosecution did not make a specific request for a true bill. During the testimony, at least one detective indicated that he did not arrest Wilson because he did not believe he had probable cause to do so. The grand jury was instructed, however, to reach its decision regarding probable cause independently. When a grand jury returns a true bill, it is a criminal offence for certain people to inform the defendant prior to his arrest or appearance on those charges. Here, the grand jury returned a no bill on each of the proposed charges.

Statement of Facts

A “statement of facts” is commonly used in legal documents to present the facts of the case (separate from the law) to the court. Generally speaking, an attorney writing a statement of facts is representing a side, and will have legal arguments and a particular version of events in mind. When done on appeal following a criminal conviction, a lawyer also knows that the jury found certain facts beyond a reasonable doubt. In this case, however, the author has no involvement in the case, and the jury did not endorse any particular version of events. Yet, fewer than nine jurors were willing to return a true bill, so it may be said that at least four of the twelve jurors rejected the accounts that incriminated Officer Darren Wilson. For that reason, and in the interests of creating a coherent narrative, contradictions are preserved by first giving Wilson’s account, followed by Dorian Johnson’s, and then a brief review of the remaining witnesses and physical evidence.

Another consideration to be aware of is that grand jury hearings are not adversarial in nature. The prosecutors in this case did impeach some witnesses with prior statements, but there was no participation by a defence attorney. Also, the jurors were able to see and hear the witnesses, and then use those observations to help assess their credibility. It is ultimately futile for a person not personally involved in the incident, and not present during the grand jury hearing, to try to reach a firm understanding of the exact events that transpired on August 9, 2014.

Finally, the testimony and evidence presented to the jury consisted of thousands of pages of transcripts and over a thousand pages of reports. There were numerous photographs, videos, and audio recordings. The transcripts were released with most personal information and names redacted, and therefore the author has almost no knowledge relating to those matters. Furthermore, many exhibits remain unavailable, including demonstrative exhibits and audio recordings of interviews.

In any event, a summary of the hearing may still be written. Contradictory accounts were presented throughout the hearing, and will necessarily be present in this article. Some witnesses were evidently not considered credible, and the transcript contains a lot of impeachment evidence, but it is not the goal of this article to decide questions of credibility. Rather, this statement of facts lays out a coherent account of the testimony while preserving the main versions of the story.

A New Day

On August 9, 2014, Michael Brown was 18 years old and staying with his cousin at the Canfield Apartments in Ferguson, Missouri. Brown and his cousin had stayed up late the night before, and Brown fell asleep on his cousin’s sofa before 5:00 AM. At some point after 7:00 AM, Brown awoke and went out front to help his aunt with her children.

Outside, Brown was met by a friend, Dorian Johnson. Johnson had moved to the area eight months ago, and had since become familiar with Brown. That morning, Johnson woke up at 7:00 AM and took a shower before speaking with his girlfriend and heading out. Johnson planned to get his girlfriend breakfast at the Ferguson Market and to buy some cigarillos to use when smoking marijuana. Johnson spotted Brown helping with the children, and decided to stop a moment and say hello. During the conversation, Brown asked Johnson his plans for the morning, and then offered to join Johnson for the walk and to share some marijuana.

As Brown and Johnson spoke, two construction workers were trenching downspouts at the Canfield Apartments. They had been there since 7:30 AM, and at approximately 11:00 AM Brown approached them. Brown spoke to one of the workers who had become frustrated and was swearing at his equipment. Brown told the worker that Jesus could help him with his anger, and the worker joked that Brown ought to try his hand at the work. During the conversation, Brown did not appear to be high, but the worker suspected that something was wrong with him. Brown was speaking slowly, and on he would tilt his head back and flicker his eyes. Johnson, however, did not notice anything that suggested Brown was high or otherwise impaired. Toxicology tests later revealed that Brown had consumed a large dose of marijuana sometime that morning.

Following Brown’s conversation with the worker, Johnson asked Brown to check on a mutual friend to see if he would like to accompany them to the market. Brown then returned to his cousin’s apartment and asked to borrow his cousin’s mobile phone. After retrieving the phone, Brown stepped away to make a call, before returning the phone and saying, “me and Dorian’s going to walk to the market, I’ll be right back”. Brown then left his cousin’s apartment for the final time, and his cousin went back to sleep.

Back outside, Brown told Johnson that their mutual friend wanted to sleep in. The two men then left the Canfield Apartments on foot. As they walked past the workers, Brown was seen rolling up marijuana in some notebook paper. One worker called out “you’re going to smoke it out of that?” and Brown replied that he was actually going to the market to get something more appropriate. The worker then told them that they should smoke wax, which is a type of concentrated substance made from marijuana. Johnson turned and said he didn’t know what wax was, and then Brown and Johnson continued on their way. During the walk, the two spoke about Brown’s future plans.

The Ferguson Market is a five minute walk from the Canfield Apartments. After arriving, Brown made his way to the clerk and asked for a box of cigarillos. The clerk gave Brown a box, and then Brown grabbed a handful of cigarillos. The clerk swiped at Brown’s hand but missed; at this point Johnson was aware that something was wrong. Brown then sat the box down, and proceeded to the exit with a handful of cigarillos. When the clerk tried to stop Brown, Brown shoved him and told him to get back. Brown then left the market, and Johnson followed behind him. As they left, Johnson heard the clerk threatening to call the police; at no point did Brown or Johnson pay for the cigarillos.

The Ferguson Market is equipped with video cameras, which were able to capture a visual recording of the events. The clerk and a customer heard Brown swearing during the incident. The customer observed Brown push the clerk, step towards the clerk, and then say “what the fuck are you going to do about it?” The video of the incident shows the clerk between Brown and the exit, whereupon Brown shoves the clerk into a display, and then takes several steps towards him. The clerk retreats, and Brown exits the market behind Johnson. Johnson is wearing a black shirt and light-coloured shorts. Brown is seen to be wearing a red hat, white shirt, light-coloured shorts, and distinctive, neon-yellow socks featuring a marijuana-leaf pattern. He is also seen holding the cigarillos in his right hand.

After leaving the market, Brown and Johnson began to walk back to the Canfield Apartments. Brown was carrying the cigarillos and seemed calm. Johnson, shocked by what Brown had done, asked Brown why he stole the cigarillos and shoved the clerk. Brown laughed and told Johnson to be cool. As they walked down Canfield Drive, two squad cars drove past them towards the market. A further two or three regular cars also passed the two men. Brown and Johnson were walking in the road single file, with Johnson in front and Brown behind. Although Johnson indicated that they were not obstructing traffic, at least one civilian motorist felt it necessary to drive around the pair.

As Brown and Johnson were continuing to walk down Canfield Drive, Officer Darren Wilson of the Ferguson Police Department was driving along the same road. Wilson had recently finished responding to a call involving an unwell baby at a nearby apartment building. Wilson, an officer with 6 years of experience, was in full uniform and driving alone in a marked SUV squad car. As part of his uniform, Wilson was wearing a duty belt and had a radio on his left shoulder. Wilson’s duty belt contained two pairs of handcuffs, a radio, a firearm, ammunition, pepper spray, and a truncheon. Wilson was not equipped with a taser; the department had a limited number of tasers available, and Wilson preferred not to carry one.

Records show that Wilson was using his radio to receive information about the Ferguson Market incident involving Brown and Johnson. As he drove down Canfield Drive, Wilson indicated over the radio that he was willing to help with the investigation. Wilson also asked the dispatch centre to relay information to him, as he was having trouble hearing the radio messages clearly.

The Initial Approach

As Wilson continued down Canfield Drive, he spotted Brown and Johnson walking in the street. Wilson’s attention was drawn to Brown’s size and his distinctive socks. Brown was approximately 6’4 and 285 pounds on the date in question; Wilson is roughly the same height, but seventy pounds lighter.
Wilson stopped his squad car a few feet in front of Brown and Johnson, and waited for them to pass his driver’s side window. As Johnson passed by, Wilson asked him to walk on the sidewalk; Johnson replied that he was almost at his destination, and continued to walk as he pointed towards the nearby apartments. As Brown followed up behind Johnson, Wilson asked Brown what was wrong with the sidewalk; Brown then replied “fuck what you have to say” and continued walking past Wilson.

Johnson, however, testified that Wilson initially pulled up next to them and said, “get the fuck on the sidewalk.” Johnson was the only person who responded, saying that he was close to his destination and would be out of the road shortly. Wilson then drove off while Brown and Johnson continued to walk to the Canfield Apartments.

After the initial contact with Brown and Johnson, Wilson noticed that Brown had cigarillos in his hand, and Johnson’s black shirt was consistent with reports from Ferguson Market. Suspecting that the two were involved in that incident, Wilson told dispatch over the radio that he had two suspects and to send a back-up squad car.

A Second Look

Wilson approached Brown and Johnson a second time, using his squad car to block their path down the road. By reversing his vehicle, Wilson positioned himself at such an angle that Brown and Johnson were by his driver’s side door. Wilson then started to open his door while telling Brown to approach. Brown, however, looked at Wilson and said, “what the fuck are you going to do about it,” before slamming the car door shut. Wilson ordered Brown to back away from the door, and noticed that Brown was staring at him with an intense look on his face. Brown closed the door when Wilson tried to open it a second time, and then ducked his head into the squad car through the driver’s side window.

Brown entered the squad car with his arms and head, and punched Wilson in the face. Wilson was able to partly deflect the blow, whereupon Brown grabbed and pulled at him. Brown then stopped for a moment, telling Johnson, “hey man, hold these” before passing the cigarillos. While Brown was using his left hand to pass the cigarillos, Wilson grabbed Brown’s right arm and tried to control the fight. However, Wilson felt that Brown was too large and strong. Wilson then tried to open the door again, but Brown blocked him and resumed the attack.

As the fight progressed, Wilson thought back to his training and considered what tools he could use to retaliate. Ultimately, Wilson decided that his firearm was the only effective option while seated inside the car, and he drew it from his holster. Wilson then said, “get back or I’m going to shoot you”, but Brown grabbed the firearm and replied, “you are too much of a pussy to shoot me.” The two men struggled over the direction of the firearm, but ultimately Wilson was able to point it away from himself. Wilson then started pulling the trigger; the gun failed to shoot the first two times, but on the third attempt it successfully discharged. The bullet entered the driver’s side door but did not exit the other side; in the process, it shattered the lowered window and sent chunks of glass flying upwards. At that point, Wilson noticed that there was blood on the back of his hand.

After the shot, Brown stepped back and glared at Wilson, before returning to the squad car and punching at Wilson. Wilson shielded his face and attempted to fire again, but the gun failed to shoot; Wilson then racked the gun and was able to successfully fire it a second time. Wilson observed a cloud of dust appear behind Brown, and then Brown began to run away. As Wilson exited the car, he radioed for further assistance; dispatch, however, only recorded receiving static and indistinct voices at this time. Seeing Brown retreating, Wilson proceeded to give chase.

Johnson, however, related a different account of how the struggle began. Johnson testified that after Wilson initially began to drive away, he suddenly reversed his squad car without warning. Wilson then hit the brakes, causing his tires to screech; this sound alerted Johnson and Brown, who had to move before they were struck by Wilson’s vehicle. After the squad car stopped, Brown was right by the driver’s side door, and Johnson was by his shoulder.

Wilson, now face-to-face with both men, yelled angrily, “What did you say?” When Brown tried to respond, Wilson opened his driver’s side door with a lot of force, striking both Brown and Johnson. After hitting both men, the door closed back in on Wilson, and Wilson proceeded to reach through the driver’s side window and grab Brown around the shirt and neck. Wilson had a tight grip on Brown, and the two engaged in a violent tug of war; Wilson was pulling Brown into the vehicle, and Brown was pushing away against the vehicle.

Initially, Brown had cigarillos in both hands, having divided them up during the walk from the market. Brown quickly managed to transfer the cigarillos to his left hand and told Johnson, “grab these, bro” before passing them to Johnson. With his hands free, Brown was better able to push away from Wilson. During the struggle, Wilson only used his left hand, and Brown began to free himself. At times, Wilson may have pulled Brown’s right arm into the squad car. Both Brown and Wilson were swearing, and eventually Wilson said, “I’ll shoot.” Wilson then drew a handgun, and Johnson, who has been shot in the past, went into a deep state of fear and shock at the sight of the barrel.

Before Wilson could repeat the threat, the gun suddenly discharged. The bullet travelled out of the car and struck Brown in the chest; Johnson saw the resulting blood from the wound on Brown’s right side. At no point did Johnson see Brown touch the gun or strike the officer. After the initial shot, Wilson released his grip, and both Brown and Johnson ran away down the road.

A large number of unnamed witnesses observed the altercation take place. Some witnesses were in traffic on Canfield Drive, some looked on from their nearby homes, and others stood on the sidewalk and gardens. The grand jury was presented with a detailed map of the area, with the witnesses marked out and photographs and measurements taken to depict the angles from which each witness observed the incident. Some witnesses watched the events unfold from the initial approach, while others were alerted by the initial sound of gunfire. Although most witnesses had trouble seeing what was happening at the squad car between Brown and Wilson, they could see that the squad car was rocking back and forth from the force. The contradictory accounts given by Wilson and Johnson were both corroborated by different witnesses.

Later examinations of Brown showed that a gun had discharged close to the palm of his hand, causing a tangential wound. Multiple bullet wounds were found on the right-side of Brown’s body, including one in the chest; the bullet entered the chest and moved downwards, fracturing the eighth rib before stopping. Hospital staff and officers examining Wilson after the incident noticed injuries consistent with being punched and scratched. DNA testing showed a high probability that Brown’s DNA was on Wilson’s firearm and certain spots of Wilson’s clothing. Testing also showed a high probability that Wilson’s DNA was on Brown’s hand. Wilson’s DNA was not found in samples taken from Brown’s fingernails. A small piece of human tissue was recovered from the exterior of the squad door which matched Brown’s DNA. Investigators recovered a bullet and shattered glass from the inside of the driver’s side door, and the jurors were allowed to examine the car itself.

Pursuit Turns Deadly

After exiting his squad car and calling for backup, Wilson proceeded to run after Brown. Brown ran at a diagonal angle towards a light-pole at the intersection of Canfield Drive and Copper Creek Court. A number of cars had stopped on the roadway during the altercation. Brown and Wilson passed more than one car as they ran down the road, and when Brown reached the light-pole he stopped running and began to turn around.

As Brown turned around, Wilson told him repeatedly to get on the ground. Brown grunted at Wilson, and then started to move back towards him. Wilson observed Brown start to run, and Brown’s left hand curled into a fist while his right hand went under his shirt and into his waistband. Wilson continued to tell Brown to get on the ground, and then fired a series of shots when Brown continued towards him. Some of the shots missed, but Wilson was able to see Brown flinch from at least one hit. During the first series of shots, Wilson focused strictly on Brown’s right hand.

After the first shots, Wilson saw smoke coming from the gun and saw that Brown was still running at him. Wilson began to backpedal and continued to tell Brown to get on the ground. Brown did not comply, and Wilson fired a second round of shots. Wilson was once more unable to tell how many rounds struck Brown, but he again saw Brown flinch. Brown looked to be bulking up to run through the shots, as though the shooting was making him mad.

Wilson continued to backpedal, and Brown came within roughly eight to ten feet of him. At that distance, Brown leant forward in a tackling stance, and Wilson looked down the sites of his gun and fired several more rounds. Wilson focused on Brown’s head, and when the last shot struck Brown he saw Brown’s face go blank. Brown, who was in the roadway, fell on his face with such force that his feet came up behind him. Wilson then got on the radio and requested a supervisor and backup.

Johnson, however, testified that when Wilson initially stepped out of his squad car, Johnson ran over to a nearby car and stood behind it. From that position, Johnson was able to see Brown running along the road. As he ran by Johnson, Brown told Johnson to keep running. Johnson then saw Wilson silently walk past at a fast pace, gun drawn. Johnson asked a driver of a nearby vehicle to let him inside, but the driver refused and drove onto the sidewalk. Johnson remained in the road and continued to watch events transpire.

After Brown ran past a third car, Wilson shot at him. Brown had his back facing Wilson at the time, and Johnson saw Brown jerk and stop running. Brown then turned around and faced Wilson; as he did so, Brown raised his arms and told Wilson “I don’t have a gun”. Brown raised one arm somewhat higher than the other, due to the effects of the injury on his right side.

Wilson, who still had an angry facial expression, proceeded to gun him down before he could approach or say anything else. As Brown collapsed, Wilson kept firing; Brown looked like he was already on the ground when the last shot struck him. Johnson, afraid of Wilson, ran home in great distress. At no point did Brown reach under his shirt or into his waistband, and at no point did Brown charge or move towards Wilson.

Surrounding witnesses continued to observe events from a number of different locations. As with earlier testimony, the contradictory accounts provided by Johnson and Wilson both had their own corroborating witnesses. Furthermore, some witnesses provided distinct accounts that contradicted both Wilson and Johnson. An example of this was Brown’s cousin, who testified that he saw Brown on his knees with his hands up surrendering to Wilson. Wilson then approached and shot Brown point-blank in the head, and Brown collapsed to the floor. Brown’s cousin then lost sight of the incident as he ran downstairs, but he heard Wilson continue to discharge the firearm repeatedly. A number of other witnesses described Brown as having moved towards Wilson during the final moments, but that he was walking or stumbling rather than running.

One witness in particular recorded the sound of gunfire.. Cell phone footage was also played, but there was no visual recording of the shooting itself. Radio logs indicate that the event occurred within approximately two minutes. Wilson stated over the radio at 12:21:05 PM that he was with two individuals. A distressed officer was heard saying the words Copper Creek Court at 12:22:31 PM. At 12:23:11 PM, an officer requested a detective at Canfield Drive and Copper Creek Court.

Examination of Brown’s body revealed between six and eight independent bullet wounds. There was the aforementioned wound to the right hand, suffered at close range. A bullet struck the back of the right forearm and exited the front. A bullet struck the right upper arm by the elbow from an uncertain direction. A bullet struck the front of the right upper arm near the chest, exiting the back of the arm. A bullet entered the top of the head, right of the midline, proceeding down and to the right, passing through the brain. Another bullet entered the forehead, right of the midline, proceeding downwards and to the right, passing through the eye and facial bones, exiting through the right lower jaw and possibly creating the bullet wound on right upper chest through the clavicle. Finally, a bullet entered the right side of the chest, proceeding downwards and to the right, ultimately fracturing the eighth rib. Abrasions were present on Brown’s face. Medical experts concluded that the bullet which passed through Brown’s brain was likely the fatal wound. Brown’s blood was found on the roadway 21.5 feet away from where his body ultimately came to rest.

Aftermath

After shooting Brown, Wilson called for all available squad cars to respond to his location. Officers were already nearby, and as they approached they passed by several fleeing motorists. Wilson turned his squad car off and remained outside the vehicle until his sergeant arrived. The sergeant was on scene within two minutes, and instructed officers to cordon off the area with crime-scene tape. An ambulance was also contacted, and squad cars were used to block vehicle traffic. As events progressed, a crowd of hundreds of people began to grow.

According to Wilson, the sergeant instructed him to sit in the squad car. Wilson refused this order for fear of being singled out and identified by onlookers as the shooter. According to the sergeant, however, Wilson was already in the squad car when the sergeant arrived. The sergeant then had Wilson exit the squad car and enter the sergeant’s vehicle. Wilson was then instructed to drive back to the police station. As he left the scene, he noticed that his personal radio was switched to the wrong channel.

Back at the station, Wilson immediately washed the blood from the back of his hand. He feared that the glass from the driver’s side door had cut his hand, and he did not want Brown’s blood to enter an open wound. After retrieving a pair of gloves, Wilson unloaded his firearm and placed the gun and ammunition in an evidence envelope. He then sealed the envelope and signed it. An officer at the station described Wilson as appearing quiet and solemn. The police union attorney was contacted, and EMS personnel took a look at Wilson’s injuries. The Assistant Chief determined that Wilson should go to the hospital, so Wilson changed out of his uniform and left for Christian Northwest Hospital.

At the hospital, Wilson was seen by a Physician’s Assistant. It was determined that Wilson had a contusion on his mandibular joint. The PA also observed redness and puffiness, and marks on his neck. Wilson complained that his jaw was aching, and measured his pain level as being a 6 out of 10. After completing the examination, the PA prescribed a painkiller and anti-inflammatory medicine, and told Wilson to apply ice to the injury. Wilson was discharged that same day.

While Wilson was at the station and hospital, a hostile crowd of up to 400 people gathered and a chaotic scene erupted near the Canfield Apartments. People in the crowd were relating various accounts of events to one another, some claiming that Wilson had run up behind Brown and shot him in the back. Members of the crowd had torn down police tape, and people were chanting “kill the police” amongst other things. Sheets and an orange screen were put up to shield the deceased from view.

At approximately 1:15 PM, a St. Louis County Police Crime Scene Detective arrived on scene. After being given an explanation by the sergeant, the crime scene detective returned to his car to prepare his equipment. However, he was interrupted by the sound of gunshots. Two members of the crowd had opened fire from a nearby property; their identity was not known, and the owner of the property was warned not to snitch on them. Ultimately, approximately fifty officers and police dogs were on scene.

After that disturbance, the crime scene detective began to videotape the location of the shooting. The detective also took 161 photographs of the area. This was done within an hour of the detective’s arrival. The detective then proceeded to collect DNA evidence from the area, and noted that a bullet had struck the siding of a nearby building. No tire skid marks were found on the roadway.

At approximately 2:30 PM, an investigator from the medical examiner’s office arrived and began to handle the recording and removal of the body. After speaking with the sergeant, the investigator proceeded to work on Brown’s body. The body was face down in the road under several white sheets, and did not appear to have been moved. A check of the body revealed two $5 notes, two lighters, and an apparent bag of marijuana. The body was removed around four hours or so after the shooting had occurred.

The grand jury learnt that in the subsequent protests, the market was looted and that the owner was very unwilling to assist with the investigation. At least one witness to the shooting fled the scene as members of the crowd taunted the witness with racial slurs. Other witnesses complained of embellished and inaccurate accounts being spread amongst the crowd. The first autopsy of Brown’s body was performed by the St. Louis County Office of the Medical Examiner on August 10, 2014. A second autopsy was then requested by Brown’s family and conducted by another pathologist. A third autopsy was conducted by the Department of Defence at the request of the Department of Justice. Casings and bullets were also recovered; the casings were consistent with coming from Wilson’s gun, as were the bullets that were still in good enough condition to examine.

The grand jury hearing commenced on August 20, 2014. The jurors heard from approximately sixty witnesses, and were presented with transcripts, reports, photographs, demonstrative exhibits, and numerous audio and visual recordings. The jurors also examined the squad car, a police radio, and were provided with detailed testimony about forensic science, medicine, and radio technology. Background information about witnesses was also provided, including that Dorian Johnson had an outstanding warrant at the time of his testimony, and that Wilson has received a letter of commendation and one unfounded complaint in the past 6 years. The grand jury began deliberating in private on November 21, 2014, at 3:04 PM. On November 24, 2014, it was announced that the grand jury had returned a no bill on every charge.

This article was originally posted in 2015

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