Grand Jury

St. Louis County Prosecutor Bob McCulloch speaks at a forum about policing post-Ferguson at Saint Louis University School of Law on Feb. 20, 2015.
Rachel Lippmann | St. Louis Public Radio | file photo

Nearly everyone agrees the grand jury that investigated the August 2014 shooting death of Michael Brown was "unusual."

The jurors started hearing the case before police had finished their investigation. Officer Darren Wilson testified. And after jurors declined to indict Wilson, prosecutor Bob McCulloch made the evidence public.

But is "unusual" shorthand for "failed to do his job as prosecutor?" A group of activists contend yes, and want a special prosecutor to investigate the way McCulloch handled the case.

Fashions R Boutique owner Juanita Morris sets out merchandise in her new Florissant location, after her original store burned in the riots following the Darren Wilson grand jury decision in November 2014.
Stephanie Lecci | St. Louis Public Radio

When riots broke out in Ferguson and Dellwood last year following the grand jury decision in the Michael Brown-Darren Wilson case, Juanita Morris' business of 28 years burned to the ground.

In one night, Morris lost the building that housed Fashions R Boutique and almost all of her inventory. But she vowed to rebuild, even in the face of what she called “some dark days.”

Federal judge says grand juror argument against secrecy belongs in state court

May 29, 2015
St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Robert McCulloch announces that the grand jury declined to indict Darren Wilson on any of five counts that were presented to it.
Bill Greenblatt | UPI

Updated 4:30 p.m. May 29 with suit filed in state court - A grand juror who served in the Darren Wilson case is taking a lawsuit against St. Louis County Prosecutor Bob McCulloch to state court.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Missouri says its client hopes to challenge secrecy requirements that prevent talking freely about the grand jury investigation and what evidence was presented. In a release, the ACLU says the grand juror wants to contribute to public discussions on race relations.

Prosecutor Marilyn Mosby of Baltimore, left, and Robert MCCulloch of St. Louis County
Official Photo and Bill Greenblatt | UPI

First of two reports — A change may be underway in the prosecution of police brutality cases, with prosecutors moving more quickly to charge officers when they have strong evidence, experts say.

After two long-running grand juries in Ferguson and Staten Island, N.Y., decided not to indict officers in high-visibility cases, authorities in North Charleston, S.C.; Tulsa, Okla., and Baltimore moved rapidly to charge officers in the deaths of Walter Scott, Eric Harris and Freddie Gray, respectively.

Michael Brown's Normandy High School graduation photo
Provided by UPI

(Updated at 7:30 p.m. with comments from St. Louis County Prosecutor Bob McCulloch)

The U.S. Justice Department’s report into the fatal of shooting of Michael Brown by then-police officer Darren Wilson makes two basic findings: investigators were not convinced that Wilson committed a federal crime; and that even if they were to indict Wilson, they didn’t believe they would be able to win at trial.

Rep. Lacy Clay
St. Louis Public Radio

Missouri’s two members of the Congressional Black Caucus both say President Barack Obama encouraged members of the caucus to find Republican colleagues to help pass criminal justice system reforms sought by many in the group. 

police car lights
Jason Rojas | Flickr

One of the key reforms, experts agree, that should grow out of the death of Michael Brown is changing Missouri’s statute giving police officers broad authority to use deadly force against unarmed suspects.

But the bills now before the Missouri Legislature could make matters worse rather than better, say legal experts.  All of the bills are seriously flawed, say Saint Louis University law professors Chad Flanders and Marcia McCormick.

The Fashions R Boutique was one of 13 businesses in Dellwood that burned down during Monday's riots following the announcement of the Darren Wilson grand jury decision.
Stephanie Lecci | St. Louis Public Radio

The United Way of Greater St. Louis is hoping to provide basic assistance to employees who lost work when businesses in Ferguson and Dellwood were looted or burned in November. But the agency is struggling to locate qualified individuals. 

Displaced employees who qualify for the assistance would have had to have lost their jobs or had their hours significantly reduced, by more than 40 hours a week, said the organization's vice president of community response Regina Greer.

St. Louis County  Police have released this still image from surveillance footage at Mickey's Shop N Gas during looting the night the Darren Wilson grand jury was announced.
Courtesy St. Louis County Police

According to St. Louis County Police, tips from the public have helped identify seven looting suspects from the night of the Darren Wilson grand jury announcement.

Those individuals are wanted for questioning, according to media relations Officer Shawn McGuire. 

"it's just a matter of time before they get picked up by police" or detectives locate the suspects, he said.

Nate Birt | Provided

The NAACP Legal Defense Fund’s request for a St. Louis County judge to consider a new grand jury and special prosecutor in the death of Michael Brown calls for an action that is without precedent.

No Missouri court has appointed a special prosecutor and empaneled a second grand jury over the objection of the local prosecutor whose first grand jury did not indict, legal experts say. Nor does there appear to be a precedent anywhere else in the country.

gavel court justice
sxc.hu

The grand juror who wants to challenge publicly St. Louis County Prosecutor Robert McCulloch’s portrayal of the Ferguson grand jury has a relatively strong First Amendment case -- if the juror can get the argument before a judge, legal experts say.

The U.S. Supreme Court threw out a Florida law that permanently barred a grand jury witness from disclosing his grand jury testimony. That same rationale may apply to grand jurors themselves, legal experts say.

St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Robert McCulloch announces that the grand jury declined to indict Darren Wilson on any of five counts that were presented to it.
Bill Greenblatt | UPI

St. Louis County Prosecutor Bob McCulloch says he’s not surprised by the scrutiny his office continues to receive as a result of the grand jury decision a month ago not to indict Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson in the killing of 18-year-old Michael Brown.

In fact, McCulloch observed in an interview Tuesday that his staff is conducting its own examination of how the office handled the investigation of the Ferguson shooting on Aug. 9, which touched off months of unrest – locally and around the world.

St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Robert McCulloch announces that the grand jury declined to indict Darren Wilson on any of five counts that were presented to it.
Bill Greenblatt | UPI

St. Louis County prosecutor Bob McCulloch released more grand jury testimony in the case of former Ferguson police office Darren Wilson on Saturday, including the law enforcement interview with Dorian Johnson, who was with Michael Brown when he was killed in August.

The Fashions R Boutique was one of 13 businesses in Dellwood that burned down during Monday's riots following the announcement of the Darren Wilson grand jury decision.
Stephanie Lecci | St. Louis Public Radio

 

Echoing the mayor of neighboring city Ferguson, the mayor of Dellwood is adding his voice to the criticism of Gov. Jay Nixon and demanding answers in the aftermath of Monday's riots.

Mayor Reggie Jones said Dellwood was promised its business district would be protected by National Guard troopers, but he said "they failed to arrive."

While Ferguson has "gotten more attention," Jones said, his city saw the most damage and he wants to make sure his city also gets the resources it needs to recover. 

Grand jury evidence

St. Louis County Prosecutor Bob McCulloch released more than 5,000 pages of testimony, forensic evidence and investigative reports after announcing that there would be no indictment of officer Darren Wilson.

We've spent the past few days combing through the documents and found several things that raised our eyebrows.

1. In the initial investigative report, Wilson said he only shot once in the car. He told the grand jury it was twice.

St. Louis County Prosecutor Bob McCulloch discussing the grand jury decision on November 24, 2014.
Bill Greenblatt | UPI

Just before the Darren Wilson grand jury began deliberating, the two prosecutors in the room gave the grand jurors an unusual message:  Ignore part of the Missouri law giving police officers broad power to use deadly force. 

“So, the statute I gave you,” said Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Kathi Alizadeh, “if you want to fold that in half just so that, you know, don't necessarily rely on that because there is a portion of that that doesn't comply with the law.”

Ferguson and St. Louis residents are trying to cope with and understand a grand jury's decision not to indict police Officer Darren Wilson in the August death of Michael Brown, and the response, sometimes violent, to that decision.

Wednesday on "St. Louis on the Air," we discussed an upcoming march organized by the NAACP; protests in St. Louis; the response in Washington, D.C.; the grand jury evidence and how to talk about Ferguson and protests with children.

Guests

Circus Harmony performers join with members of the Galilee Circus in July in Haifa, Israel.
Photo provided by Jessica Hentoff

Jessica Hentoff has gone all the way to Israel to bring people of markedly different perspectives together. This summer, Hentoff, artistic and executive director of Circus Harmony, took members of her tumbling group, the St. Louis Arches, to the Middle East. There, the Arches joined with Arab and Israeli youth from the Galilee Circus, where they worked and learned together, setting aside religious, political and cultural differences.

St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Robert McCulloch announces that the grand jury declined to indict Darren Wilson on any of five counts that were presented to it.
Bill Greenblatt | UPI

After St. Louis County Prosecutor Bob McCulloch announced Monday that a grand jury had decided not to charge Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson with a crime in the August death of Michael Brown, he carried out his promise to release thousands of pages of grand jury testimony and evidence.  

St. Louis Public Radio has made it all available for you to view. Reporters have been evaluating it as well. Here are some of the take-aways:

Many businesses along South Grand Boulevard suffered glass damage. Nov. 24
Emanuele Berry | St. Louis Public Radio

Late Monday, St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Bob McCulloch announced that a grand jury had voted it would not indict police Officer Darren Wilson in the August death of Michael Brown in Ferguson. Protests began soon after the announcement in Ferguson and St. Louis, followed by acts of arson and violence.

Tuesday on "St. Louis on the Air," we tried to get a better idea of how the communities are reacting and what is planned.

Guests

A mother and her son react to the grand jury decision, watched over livestream, at West Side Missionary Baptist Church in North St. Louis County.
Durrie Bouscaren / St. Louis Public Radio

Audible groans murmured through the West Side Missionary Baptist Church in north St. Louis County when county prosecutor Robert McCulloch announced, via livestream, that no charges would be filed against Officer Darren Wilson.

Church leaders switched off the projector and the Rev. Starsky Wilson stood to give a sermon, calling for dissent.   

“The question is whether our faith will produce anything as an alternative witness to the system that has both broken, busted and disgusted,” Wilson said.

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon speaking Monday at a news conference before the grand jury announcement on Monday, Nov 25, 2014
Bill Greenblatt | UPI | File photo

Within minutes after St. Louis County Prosecutor Robert McCulloch announced that the grand jury did not recommend that Darren Wilson face indictment for the shooting death of Michael Brown, reactions from area politicians came quickly. 

Before and after the grand jury’s decision was made public, area officials made clear Monday night that they understood the stakes.

Look here for grand jury testimony released by St. Louis County prosecuting attorney Bob McCulloch after the jurors decided not to charge Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson in the fatal shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson August 9. 

Friday afternoon, Ron Johnson of Missouri State Highway Patrol asks protester to keep the peace in Ferguson over the course of the night.
Durrie Bouscaren / St. Louis Public Radio

In a special, live evening edition of "St. Louis on the Air," we discussed the grand jury's decision regarding the August shooting death of Michael Brown by police Officer Darren Wilson in Ferguson.

Guests

St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay (right) and St. Louis County Executive Charlie Dooley (left) meet the press on Friday. Slay told reporters that police and protesters are talking in advance of a grand jury decision regarding Ferguson Police officer Darren Wil
Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

With the St. Louis region on edge before a grand jury decides Ferguson Police officer Darren Wilson’s fate, the leaders of St. Louis and St. Louis County are preparing for protests. 

Appearing before dozens of reporters in Clayton, St. Louis County Executive Charlie Dooley and St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay said that there have been talks between police officials and protests groups.

The Missouri National Guard has been called up by Gov. Jay Nixon to assist local police with security after a grand jury decision is announced in the Michael Brown case. Typically, Guard troopers are called in to respond to emergencies, like natural disas
(Via Flickr/USACEPublicAffairs/By Carlos J. Lazo)

After he declared a state of emergency, Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon has been coy about exactly when and how many National Guard troops will come to the St. Louis area ahead of a grand jury decision in the Michael Brown case.

The Missouri Department of Public Safety also declined to give such "operational details" on Wednesday.

But to understand how the National Guard works generally, St. Louis Public Radio reached out to a department spokesman as well as a professor in Department of Military and Veterans Studies at the University of Missouri-St. Louis.

gavel court justice
sxc.hu

(Updated at 3:25 p.m., Mon., Nov. 17)

An outdated Missouri law that allows police to shoot an unarmed fleeing felon could help Officer Darren Wilson avoid an indictment and prison, legal experts say.

If St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Robert McCulloch advises the grand jury to follow the outdated law, he would be reducing the chances of an indictment. Wilson could be viewed as acting in line with state law when he shot unarmed Michael Brown after he began to flee.  

Lori Fowler finds the wasp spray falls short of its claim to shoot 27 feet.
Nancy Fowler | St. Louis Public Radio

Much of the St. Louis area is on edge as it waits for the grand jury decision in the case of Ferguson Police officer Darren Wilson. Listen into conversations and it won't be long until someone speculates about what will happen.

Local schools, particularly those in north St. Louis County, have been preparing for weeks for a decision concerning the shooting death of Michael Brown on Aug. 9. Business owners and residents are also getting ready for any problems while hoping nothing bad happens.

Attorney for the family of Michael Brown Anthony Gray said private forensic pathologist Dr. Michael Baden testified Thursday before the grand jury, but would not speak to what he said. UPI/Bill Greenblatt
UPI/Bill Greenblatt

The forensic pathologist hired by Michael Brown's family to perform a private autopsy testified Thursday before the grand jury considering whether to indict Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson in Brown's fatal shooting.

Attorneys for the family would not elaborate on what exactly Dr. Michael Baden said to the grand jury.

"He believes...that the substance of his testimony should be left to the purview of the grand jury, so in respecting the process, we won’t be able to comment on that this morning," said family attorney Benjamin Crump at a press conference Thursday.

Several local gun stores are reporting an increased demand for tactical weapons and training.
(via Flickr/Foxtongue)

Several St. Louis area gun shops are reporting a spike in sales, and some are attributing it, in part, to preparations ahead of an expected grand jury decision in the Michael Brown case.

About two-thirds of the local gun stores St. Louis Public Radio spoke with report increased sales. Two stores, Marco Polo Outfitters in Chesterfield and Butterfield Gun Works in Ballwin, said they haven't seen a significant jump in sales.

Other stores said it's typical to see more sales at this time of year, thanks to deer season and the start of holiday shopping.

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