UPDATE: The Justice Department has cleared Wilson of all charges in connection with the shooting death of Michael Brown, according to the New York Times. “There is no evidence upon which prosecutors can rely to disprove Wilson’s stated subjective belief that he feared for his safety,” the report said.
A Justice Department investigation into the Michael Brown shooting will likely not result in civil rights charges against Darren Wilson, the now-former police officer accused of shooting the unarmed teenager in Ferguson, Missouri. U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder is expected to announce the Justice Department’s decision officially before leaving his post this spring, CNN reports.
The Justice Department launched an independent investigation into the Brown shooting, interviewing over 200 witnesses, reviewing cell phone footage and conducting a separate autopsy. However, according to the New York Times, the department didn’t uncover any information that deviated wildly from the prosecutors’ case against Wilson, nor did they find enough evidence to levy civil rights charges against the police officer.
“The family of Michael Brown Jr. will wait for official word from the Justice Department regarding whether or not any charges will be filed against the police officer who shot and killed him,” Benjamin Crump, the lawyer representing the Brown family, said in a written statement Wednesday after news of the Justice Department’s decision leaked out. “The family won’t address speculation from anonymous sources.”
Crump added, “We’ve heard speculation on cases before that didn’t turn out to be true. It’s too much to put the family through to respond to every rumor.” Wilson’s lawyer wouldn’t comment on the expected Justice Department outcome.
Given the prosecution’s initial decision not to pursue charges against Wilson, it was unlikely from the onset that the Justice Department would develop a case in support of civil rights charges. The department would have had the additional burden of proving that Wilson intentionally violated Brown’s rights when he opened fire on the teenager last August.
Even though it’s doubtful the Justice Department will decide to charge Wilson, they still have civil rights investigations open against the Ferguson Police Department over allegations of discriminatory traffic stops and excessive force, the New York Times reports.