Ferguson grand jury has reportedly reached a decision

The media is reporting that the grand jury in Ferguson, Missouri has reached a decision about whether to indict police officer Darren Wilson in the fatal shooting of Michael Brown.

Wilson is white, brown was black.

No one knows what the grand jury has decided.

I’ve not weighed in much about this topic because I’m a lawyer, and I have a lawyer’s sensibility.

That means I tend not to knee-jerk believe, or disbelieve, any accusation or allegation. I tend to dissect the news, and let the chips fall where they may. And I’ve found that sometimes the masses, on an increasingly large list of topics, don’t take kindly to a dispassionate legal look at the facts.

Ferguson, Missouri, by Wikipedia user Loavesofbread.

Ferguson, Missouri, by Wikipedia user Loavesofbread.

I remember a year or two ago when a young lesbian in Nebraska claimed she had been the victim of a horrible hate crime. I had a gut feeling that she was lying. I didn’t say so publicly, but something about her story gave me a bad feeling, so I didn’t report on it until we got more information about it.

A week later we found out that she was lying, there was no hate crime. And all the people who accused me of hating lesbians (that, they said, was why I wasn’t reporting on the “obvious hate crime”) were suddenly quiet.

My expertise is in dissecting the news, piecemeal-style, and trying to make sense of the facts, wherever they may lead. I’m worried that in today’s America, a lot of stories, a lot of subjects, aren’t really open for objective discussion any more. That “anti-gay hate crime” was one of them.

I fear Ferguson and the overall discussion of race maybe be another.


Follow me on Twitter: @aravosis | @americablog | @americabloggay | Facebook | Instagram | Google+ | LinkedIn. John Aravosis is the Executive Editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He has a joint law degree (JD) and masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown; and has worked in the US Senate, World Bank, Children's Defense Fund, the United Nations Development Programme, and as a stringer for the Economist. He is a frequent TV pundit, having appeared on the O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline, AM Joy & Reliable Sources, among others. John lives in Washington, DC. .

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  • dcinsider

    I’m not sure we know that yet.

  • Aye… And that all by itself says everything about what’s truly wrong with this country.

  • Because no one even tried to indict them.

  • Well, I was right about the ‘no charges’ part. Guess I was a little too optimistic for there to be even a hint of criticism.

  • Don Chandler

    Not equivalent. A police officer puts on a uniform and is expected to uphold the law. They get the benefit of the doubt.

    But ofc, this particular officer was off duty. It’s a small detail but…

  • nicho

    A prosecutor once told me “I could indict a ham sandwich if I put my mind to it.”

  • Almost certainly the case. Cops are hardly ever convicted in cases like this – and if they’re waiting that’s not a good sign. They probably want to give the chance for people to get home safe there.

  • Bill_Perdue

    The latest vi9ctim of rabid police violence is a 12 year old, murdered in Cleveland. “A 12-year-old African American boy was shot by Cleveland police oficers in a playground Saturday afternoon,according to cleveland.com.

    Tamir Rice died Sunday morning at a local hospital. Police officers htearrived at the playground after a caller dialed 911 to report that someone was pointing a gun at kids on the playground.” http://www.alternet.org/civil-liberties/why-did-cops-shoot-12-year-old-black-boy-brandishing-fake-gun

    All police agencies should be disarmed.

  • True that. On the other hand, unless indicted, one will never go to trial for whatever the crime supposedly is.

    Hence why it’s such a big deal that not a single frickin’ banker was ever indicted for crashing the economy through their blatant securities and mortgage fraud.

  • I was surprised when I googled the other day the standard for indicting someone. It’s almost unfair how broad it is. When you hear someone’s been indicted, it’s usually a “holy crap” moment because you assume the guy is guilty. The standard is actually kind of lax.

  • dommyluc

    Hmmmm…I wonder what the grand jury decision would be if Darren Wilson was lying in the street for several hours with a bullet to the brain? Is a puzzlement! (H/T: Yul Brynner)

  • My prediction: No charges. Just a toothless recommendation that Wilson be disciplined for ‘excessive force’ — which will be moot because he’s negotiated his retirement from the Ferguson PD already.

    I guess we’ll find out soon enough.

  • And in this particular case, apparently the prosecutor didn’t ask for anything. Just dumped a big pile of evidence and testimony (some of which was at odds with objectively determined facts, such as the distance between Wilson and Brown when the fatal shots were fired), and told the grand jury to do whatever they wanted with it.

  • caphillprof

    I prefer trial by jury to trail by grand jury. Most prosecutors can get most grand juries to do whatever the prosecutor wants.

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