The Washington Post has reported that evidence supports the policeman’s account of the shooting of Michael Brown, the unarmed teen in Ferguson, Mo. The story says:
Ferguson, Mo., police officer Darren Wilson and Michael Brown fought for control of the officer’s gun, and Wilson fatally shot the unarmed teenager after he moved toward the officer as they faced off in the street, according to interviews, news accounts and the full report of the St. Louis County autopsy of Brown’s body….
Some of the physical evidence — including blood spatter analysis, shell casings and ballistics tests — also supports Wilson’s account of the shooting, The Post’s sources said, which casts Brown as an aggressor who threatened the officer’s life. The sources spoke on the condition of anonymity because they are prohibited from publicly discussing the case.
The grand jury is expected to complete its deliberations next month over whether Wilson broke the law in confronting Brown, and the pending decision appears to be prompting the unofficial release of information about the case and what the jurors have been told.
We need of course to wait for the report from the Grand Jury, but police are already bracing for the rage if there is no indictment. After all, this is a case that triggered rioting and brought the Rev. Al Sharpton—the White House’s adviser on the events in Ferguson—and Attorney General Eric Holder to Ferguson. Instead of talking about the need to wait for evidence, Mr. Holder spoke bitterly about how even he had been stopped by the police (as, indeed, who hasn't at some point in life?)? Holder attributed his having been stopped to race and said he identified with the rioters.
President Obama even mentioned Ferguson in a speech at the United Nations as an example that “yes, we have our own racial and ethnic tensions.”
This is a low point for race relations in the U.S. and that is one of the many disappointments of President Obama’s tenure. As the first African American president, he could have done much to bring us together. He has not done that–indeed, he has used race (or class or money–whatever tool is at hand) to pull us apart.
The new cry, coming from Cornell West and others, is that only an open jury trial can satisfy the crowds.
But it is not in our legal system to hold such a trial without an indictment. Also, I imagine that the opportunists see more—well—opportunity in a trial. There is the possibility of a jury's feeling that it must convict to avoid further rioting and, at the very least, an issue to keep the Al Sharptons of this world in the limelight.
In the event that there is no indictment, the constitution lawyer in the White House could do a great deal to publicly stand up for American justice.
Don’t hold your breath.