Credit: Frances Twitty/Getty Images(FERGUSON, Mo.) — A lawyer for the family of the black 18-year-old fatally shot by a white police officer said Sunday the grand jury process playing out in Missouri is unlike anything he’s seen before and is unfair.
The St. Louis County prosecuting attorney, Robert McCulloch, has said that, unlike with a typical grand jury, he would present to this grand jury all the evidence gathered in the police investigation and offer the jurors the opportunity to hear from any witness with relevant information.
The target of the investigation, Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson, was among those who testified.
A spokesman for McCulloch has indicated that the prosecutor’s office will not likely make a specific recommendation about charges, but would give the grand jurors a range of charges to consider, from involuntary manslaughter up to first-degree murder.
The grand jury investigating the killing of Michael Brown by Wilson is not meeting this weekend and will reconvene Monday, sources told ABC News.
“When you think about it, if this prosecutor is saying we’re just going to be fair, we’re not going to recommend any charges, that’s different from anything he’s done in his past 28 years with grand juries,” attorney Benjamin Crump said Sunday on This Week.
“So, now are we going to say he was unfair to all those people and he’s going to be extra fair, get a police extra rights?” said Crump, who also represented the family of Trayvon Martin. ” Why can’t it be equal justice?”
ABC News chief legal affairs anchor Dan Abrams said there is precedent for prosecutors presenting cases to grand juries without recommending charges, particularly high profile, controversial cases.
“I’m not going to dispute with you on the facts, but let’s talk about the process and the law, which is that there are a lot of high profile cases, and I’ve seen them, where prosecutors say, ‘You know what, I’m going to hand this one to the grand jury. I want the political cover on this one. I want to let them decide so I’m not the one who takes the heat on this decision,'” he said.
“So it is not sort of out of left field that in a high profile case a prosecutor hands it off to a grand jury to make that decision,” he said.
Speculation that a decision on whether to indict Wilson in the shooting was coming soon has increased tensions in a town that already was on edge.
Federal, state and county officials have been ramping up their readiness in case there is a fresh wave of angry and, at times, violent protests over the jury’s decision. Protesters have been demanding that Wilson be charged with murder for the Aug. 9 shooting of Brown.
The Saint Louis County Police Department switched their officers to 12-hour shifts on Saturday.
Metal and concrete barricades have been erected in areas around the St Louis County government buildings in Clayton, where the grand jury has been meeting. The justice center there also houses the prosecutor’s office, the St. Louis County Police Department headquarters and the circuit courts.
Preparations are being made there for specific areas for anticipated protests.
There also appeared to be some minor increase in activity behind the strip mall in Jennings, the town next to Ferguson, where the Unified Command will be operating once they are notified a decision has been reached.
Many stores have boarded up their windows for fear of destructive protesters. The manager of Beauty Town Plus, a salon on West Florissant Avenue where much of the protests centered during the summer, told ABC News that they decided to board up because their windows were broken three times following Brown’s death.
Law enforcement have taken the threat of violence seriously as well as two federal officials confirmed to ABC News that more than 100 FBI personnel are being sent to the St. Louis area to join those already in the area and opened an intelligence center to head up operations.
On Friday, federal authorities in Missouri charged two men with lying on forms to purchase guns ahead of the grand jury decision.
Olajuwon Davis and Brandon Baldwin faced only those charges as of late Friday, but sources told ABC News that authorities were looking into whether they tried to acquire ready-made explosives and other weapons ahead of the decision, which is expected soon.
The two men are suspected of being associated with the New Black Panther party, said sources briefed on the arrests. The charges that were filed were intended to “take them out of the rotation,” according to one source.
Both Attorney General Eric Holder and Michael Brown Sr., the slain teenager’s father, have released videos urging protesters to remain peaceful when the grand jury’s decision is handed up.
Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio
Read More →