A St. Louis County, Mo., prosecutor said Thursday that he would not charge the white police officer who shot 18-year-old Michael Brown in 2014 after quietly reopening the investigation.
Civil rights leaders and Brown’s mother reportedly hoped that Prosecuting Attorney Wesley Bell, who became the county’s first black prosecutor in January 2019, could resume an investigation into police officer Darren Wilson who shot Brown six years ago .
Bell told reporters today that his decision was “one of the hardest things I had to do.”
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But after a five-month investigation of the case’s evidence, witness statements and forensic reports, he came to the conclusion that “we cannot prove that he committed murder or manslaughter.”
Large-scale demonstrations followed Brown’s shooting in Ferguson, Mo. And helped solidify the Black Lives Matter movement across the country.
After Brown’s death in 2014, a federal investigation and a grand jury cleared Wilson of all charges.
Bell did not object to re-reviewing the investigation into Brown’s shooting because Wilson was never charged nor was there any limitation on his murder charges.
Brown, along with his friend, were asked by Wilson to exit the middle of the street in a residential neighborhood when Brown approached the police vehicle. Throughout the transformation, which lasted approximately 90 seconds, Wilson fired a total of twelve bullets, six of which struck Brown in front of his body.
Witnesses said Brown, who was unarmed, had his hands on the shot, but federal investigators and a grand jury said the evidence showed otherwise.
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Brown’s body was left on the road for four hours, sparking outrage between his family and local residents, prompting fierce protests.
“While this case represents one of the most important moments in St. Louis history, the question for this office was a simple one: can we prove beyond a reasonable doubt that when Darren Wilson shot Michael Brown Was she then murdered or murdered under Missouri law? ”Mr. Bell said during a press conference on Thursday.
“After an independent and thorough review of the evidence, we cannot prove that it did.”
Bell noted that just because Wilson was not convicted of murder or manslaughter, he was not released.
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“There are many points at which Darren Wilson could have handled the situation differently, and Michael Brown would still have been alive if he had,” Bell told reporters.
The Justice Department refused to accuse Wilson, but issued a highly significant report that noted racial bias in the Ferguson Police Department and county courts.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.