The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 11/24/14
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Thanks, Chris.
And thanks to you at home for joining us this hour. It is now 9:00
here on the East Coast. And as Chris said in moments, we`re expecting to
hear the announcement from the prosecutor`s office in St. Louis County,
The shot that you`re looking at here is a live picture from the
Justice Center in Clayton, Missouri, just outside St. Louis. That`s where
we`re expecting to hear from the county`s prosecuting attorney tonight on
whether or not there`s going to be an indictment in the shooting death of
18-year-old Michael Brown.
Michael Brown, as you know, was unarmed when he was shot and killed by
a Ferguson, Missouri police officer in August, on August 9th. For the last
three months or so, a grand jury has been deliberating inside this building
that you see here, deliberating about whether or not that shooting of
Michael Brown by a local police officer was, in fact, a crime – a crime
for which somebody should stand trial.
The grand jury is 12 men and women. Their identities are secret. The
grand jury has viewed evidence and heard witnesses. In just a few moments,
we will learn whether or not that grand jury has decided to bring charges
against the Ferguson police officer involved in that shooting. His name is
In terms of, again, though, what we are expecting tonight, the county
prosecutor who we`re going to hear from is named Bob McCulloch. It could
be his decision about whether or not to bring charges against Officer
Darren Wilson and arrest him. He, instead, decided that a grand jury would
more properly make that decision.
But we are told as Keith – excuse me, as Chris mentioned earlier,
that Bob McCulloch won`t just be announcing the decision and then leaving
the room. We`re told to expect about a 20 minute statement, which
presumably means that we`ll not only get a statement from the prosecutor
about whether or not there will be an indictment and, if so, what charges.
But he will also be an explanation on how the grand jury arrived at this
decision. That`s what we`re anticipating.
We`re also told though that Bob McCulloch will then take questions.
As you can see from the room here, there are some people you can see in the
foreground. Those are reporters. We know from the county prosecutor`s
office that they booked seats in this room in advance.
And these are all reporters in the room. There`s no members of the
general public who are here. These are members of the press who will be
allowed to ask questions of Bob McCulloch. We`re told after he makes this
20 minute statement. We`re also told at least anecdotally that most of the
reporters in that room appear to be local reporters from the St. Louis
area. So, we shall see.
If there is no indictment tonight, obviously, a lot of attention will
focus to what the reaction will be in the streets. What the reaction will
be from Michael Brown`s family and from people not only in Missouri, but
across the country, who`ve been very concerned about the circumstances of
this case, the way it was handled initially. And the way that police and
local authorities have handled protests since it happens. That will be
part of the focus if there is no indictment announced tonight.
But there will be an interesting legal question. And that is whether
or not the evidence that went to this grand jury will be publicly released.
As we`ve been describing over the course of the day and into the
evening here on MSNBC, one of the sort of anomalous decisions that this
prosecutor made was to not just present evidence to this grand jury that
would help make the best case for a specific indictment on a specific
charge. Rather, the prosecutor announced that everything they had,
everything, full stock, would be handed over to this grand jury, that
essentially be given, I guess, an unfiltered data dump, and they`ll be
allowed to sort through it on their own and come to any decision that they
If there is no indictment, that same prosecutor, Bob McCulloch, who
we`re about to hear from, he has said that he will ask the court, St. Louis
County court, if all of that evidence can be released publicly. Then, the
public will know how it is that the grand jury arrived at its decision.
We`re also told that the proceedings of the grand jury, again, over
three months going over voluminous evidence, listening at one for four
hours of testimony from the officer involved in the shooting, from Darren
Wilson. The three hours of deliberations – excuse me – three months of
deliberations, we`re told, we`re recorded. There were recordings made of
their deliberations and transcripts have been made of their recordings.
There`s also a question as to whether or not that evidence that they
saw will be released to the public and whether the tapes and transcripts of
their deliberations will be released to the public. We hear from the court
that if, in fact, that request is made of the court, if an announcement is
made that there is not going to be an indictment, the court is saying –
the court`s decision about whether or not to release all of that
information of the public is a decision that may take quite some time and
that very clearly would involve a judge.
While awaiting for this announcement tonight, again, we`re told to
expect it as of four minutes ago. It could happen at any point.
I want to bring in now NBC News justice correspondent Pete Williams.
He`s been closely monitoring these developments.
Pete, thanks very much for being with us tonight. I appreciate your
PETE WILLIAMS, NBC NEWS JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: You bet.
A couple of things, Rachel. One is the prosecutor actually originally
asked the court to release these materials. And over the weekend, he
withdrew his request. And the spokesman for his office says that he`s now
of a position that he doesn`t need the judge`s permission to do that.
And if he`s going to talk here for 20 minutes and if as other news
organizations are reporting, he`s going to make material available in an
hour, on a court Web site or on some kind of public Web site. I think that
tells us, my own guess would you describe be that that means there won`t be
an indictment. I say that simply based on the fact that if there weren`t
to be an indictment, the proceeding would continue.
And there isn`t a heck of a lot he can say other than just to disclose
what the charges are. But if he`s going to talk for 20 minutes and release
documents, I think that tells us that there`s not going to be an
indictment. That`s just, I`m emphasizing, guess on my part. We don`t know
But this whole question about whether the prosecutor can, on his own,
release materials from the grand jury is very unusual one. He, initially,
in his arguments to the court said, I`m not going to release the
proceedings of the grand jury. I`m making my own transcript. It`s mine.
And I, under the Missouri Open Records law, get to decide what too do with
He initially asked the judge, is that OK, in essence, asking for an
advisory opinion from the judge. And he withdrew his request, apparently
deciding that he can do this. So, it`s very unusual because grand jury
proceedings under state law, under federal law are secret. But he believes
I guess that there`s a way around it or he doesn`t – or it`s a different
matter. So, I mean, that`s just very unusual.
MADDOW: Pete, is there any reason to know, or any way to know whether
or not he`s right? I mean, what`s the recourse if he improperly releases
WILLIAMS: Well, I guess he could be charged with a misdemeanor for
violating state grand jury secrecy. That`s about it. I don`t know –
MADDOW: He can charge himself.
WILLIAMS: But some state prosecutor could. But I guess it would be,
you can un-ring that bill. So, I guess he – I don`t know. This whole is
so uncharted. I just don`t know.
MADDOW: In terms of the decision by the prosecutor to not give them
any suggested charges and not to filter any evidence that he gave them,
essentially giving them a raw data dump of everything they have, every
picture, every photograph. How unusual is that as a decision, Pete?
WILLIAMS: Very. You know, you have to remember what a grand jury is.
If it`s supposed to be a filter between the crime and whether there`s
supposed to be a trial or not. Prosecutors normally make these decisions
on their own. I guess about half the cases in that county go through a
grand jury. Some states use them for all. Some states don`t use them at
But they`re a check on the prosecution. And normally, what
prosecutors do is say, OK, here`s the evidence, this is the law, shall we
indict or not. It`s not their job, it`s not a mini-trial, normally. It`s
just – here`s what we think is the evidence. Do you think we should
prosecute? They don`t give the other side?
They don`t give evidence that would tend to cast doubt on the
prosecution. They just give one side. It`s not an adversary proceeding.
It`s not a trial.
So, to give the whole picture is unusual. But, of course, he`s
already said why he thinks that`s necessary in this case. But it`s very
unusual on a grand jury.
MADDOW: The family of Michael Brown has complained about that, saying
that they felt like this in fact, sort of faction as a secret trial because
of that decision by the prosecutor. I guess is that a fair criticism by
then in legal terms? And what could they do if they believe that this was
handled improperly by the prosecutor?
WILLIAMS: Well, the recourse for the family, if there`s no
indictment, is going to be to file a civil action on their own. They can
sue for wrongful death. And the legal standard is very different if they
decide to do that.
Under Missouri law, Missouri is somewhat unusual in that the state law
in Missouri says that an officer has – can shoot a fleeing felon even if
the felon is unarmed, someone suspected of committing a felony. However,
the U.S. Supreme Court has said in federal cases, in civil rights cases,
then you apply a very different standard. And you can`t shoot an unarmed
So, it would be a tougher standard for the police officer and easier
standard for someone suing the police officer in civil rights lawsuits, if
that`s what the family chooses to pursue.
But I would think that that would be their best legal recourse rather
than to try to sue the state for violating the normal grand jury
proceedings. I don`t know that there`s any law that says a prosecutor
can`t give both sides to the grand jury.
MADDOW: Pete, I`m going to ask you to standby for a moment. We do
have an attorney for the family, Daryl Parks, who`s with us now, who
actually can speak directly to that matter.
Mr. Parks, thank you very much for being with us tonight. I
appreciate your time.
DARYL PARKS, ATTORNEY FOR MICHAEL BROWN`S FAMILY: Thank you.
MADDOW: I want to ask you, first, as we`re looking at this split
screen waiting for the county prosecutor, Bob McCulloch, to make his
statement about what the grand jury has decided. We`ve also been looking
at a real-time picture of protesters in the streets of Ferguson tonight and
they`re obviously anticipating this with a lot of anxiety.
This may be the last moment before we hear this announcement, really,
when people can hear reasonable arguments from both sides before I think
we`re about to get a lot of emotion one way or the other, depending on what
the grand jury announces. Is there anything that you can share from the
perspective of the family or even the family`s legal team in terms of what
they`re hoping for tonight from the reaction, from people who are so
concerned about this case?
PARKS: Without question, Rachel, they continue to maintain that they
belief that this guy will be indicted. They refuse to even entertain
anything other than that. They`ve been asked this question time and time
again over the last two weeks and they are just keeping the faith and
keeping the belief that this justice system will do the right thing. It
will work appropriately. When you have six or more people come forward
who`ve seen him shut down in the middle of the day, that our system will
work, that we don`t allow those type of people who commit such heinous
crimes to walk away.
So, they are believing. They`re keeping the faith, that our justice
system will work correctly. And not because this guy is an officer, not
because of anything else about him, that he should be able to walk away and
get away with this.
And so, we continue to believe and we hope it`s not to a fault, but
MADDOW: When you talk about family expecting that justice will come
through the legal system here, obviously, we`re seeing from the family,
obviously as an attorney involved in this, you`re trying to help them
achieve that. People out in the streets may or may not believe that
justice may come from through the legal system here and part of the protest
movement around this case has been to try to achieve some measure of
justice or at least some an expression of outrage in the streets to
compensate for justice that is not coming through the system.
If there is no indictment tonight, what do you think the prospects are
for trying to get justice for Michael Brown through some other means?
Through a civil suit or through some other legal proceeding that the family
might bring and that, indeed, you may be involved in?
PARKS: Well, let me say, we don`t talk much about the civil
opportunity. Obviously, it exists. I think, we believe and they believe
that proper justice right now is a criminal prosecution, more so than a
civil prosecution. The civil prosecution will be a whole different
standard, whole different set of players, and will be a whole different
So, we`ll worry about that when we get to that point. Right now,
though, because I`ve had very intimate conversations with my client
concerning the feelings about Darren Wilson, the feelings about what should
take place in this case, and they are very adamant. They are very focused
on making sure that he pays his duty to society, for his price to society,
for what he did to Michael Brown that day. And that no matter whatever
happened, Michael Brown did not deserve to be killed and that Officer
Wilson showed a complete lack of appreciation for the life that he took
that day. He did not have to take Michael Brown, Jr.`s life.
So, they`re very focused on that and very sincere about that. I can
tell you, I spent a whole week with them in Geneva two weeks ago. And we
had a lot of conversations about justice would mean to them and justice
would mean a prosecution – nothing less, nothing more, in a fair trial, a
So, they are very mystified that some in our society would fight so
hard for there not to be a public trial, so all evidence can be public.
And that they do not believe that it should be some behind in a small dark
room process that`s led by prosecutor that may – you know, God knows what
his direction is about how to deal with this.
So, I think, you know, and I think that the American public supports
the fact that, hey, look, you know what, all they want is a public trial.
I mean, unfortunately, they`re having to go through a lot just to get –
charges brought against this gentleman. And it`s just not right. It`s
really not right.
MADDOW: Daryl Parks, attorney for Michael Brown`s family – sir,
thank you very much for being with us tonight. We`re told that the
announcement is about to start in the next few seconds. So, we`ll be
watching along with you and the best to Mr. Brown`s family on this
difficult night. Thank you.
Again, we`ve been given just a few seconds warning here that we`re
about to hear from the St. Louis County prosecutor Bob McCulloch as to what
the decision is the St. Louis County grand jury that has been considering
for three months now the case of the shooting of Michael Brown on August
9th by Ferguson, Missouri police officer named Darren Wilson. This grand
jury has been given the decision on whether or not that was a criminal
matter and, in fact, there should be a criminal trial in which somebody
should stand trial for that shooting.
We are expecting not just an announcement of the raw decision of the
grand jury. We`re also expecting a lengthy explanation of the prosecutor
as to how they reach their decision and we`re also told that he will then
take questions. Let`s go now live to Clayton, Missouri.
ROBERT MCCULLOCH, ST. LOUIS COUNTY PROSECUTOR: Good evening. Thanks
for your patience. I`m a little late getting up here.
So, I have a statement at the very beginning here, then we`ll be happy
to answer some questions when we`re finished with that.
First and foremost, I`d like to again extend my deepest sympathies to
the family of Michael Brown. I`ve said in the past, I know that,
regardless of the circumstances here, they lost a loved one to violence.
And I know that the pain that accompanies such a loss knows no bounds.
On August 9th, Michael Brown was shot and killed by Police Officer
Darren Wilson. Within minutes various accounts of the incident began
appearing on social media. Accounts filled with speculation and little if
any solid, accurate information.
Almost immediately, neighbors began gathering and anger began growing
because of the various descriptions of what had happened and because of the
underlying tension between the police department and the significant part
of the neighborhood.
The St. Louis County Police conducted an extensive investigation at
the crime scene at times under very trying circumstances interrupted at
least once by random gunfire. Beginning that day and continuing for the
next three months, along with – they along with the agents of the federal
bureau of investigation at the direction of Attorney General Eric Holder,
located numerous individuals and gathered additional evidence and
information fully aware of the unfounded but growing concern in some parts
of our community that the investigation and review of this tragic death
might not be full and fair. I decided immediately that all of the physical
evidence gathered, all people claiming to have witnessed any part or all of
the shooting, any and all other related matters, would be presented to the
The grand jury of 12 members of this community selected by a judge in
May of this year long before this shooting occurred.
I would like to briefly expand upon the unprecedented cooperation
between the local and federal authorities. When Attorney General Holder
first announced the federal investigation just days after the shooting, he
pledged that federal investigators would be working with local authorities
as closely as possible at every step of the way and would follow the facts
whenever they may take us.
As General Holder and I both pledged, our separate investigations
follow that trail of facts with no preconceived notion of where that
journey would take us. Our only goal was that our investigation would be
thorough and complete to give the grand jury, the Department of Justice and
ultimately the public all available evidence to make an informed decision.
All evidence obtained by federal authorities was immediately shared
with St. Louis County investigators. Likewise all evidence gathered by St.
Louis County police was immediately shared with the federal investigators.
Additionally, the Department of Justice conducted its own examination
of all the physical evidence and performed its own autopsy. Another
autopsy was performed at the request of the brown family and all of this
information was also shared, just as importantly, all testimony before the
St. Louis County grand jury was immediately provided to the Department of
So, although the investigations are separate, both the local and the
federal government have all of the same information and evidence. Our
investigation and presentation of the evidence to the grand jury of St.
Louis County has been completed.
The most significant challenge encountered in this investigation has
been the 24-hour news cycle and its insatiable appetite for something, for
anything to talk about. Following closely behind were the nonstop rumors
on social media. I recognize, of course, that the lack of accurate detail
surrounding the shooting frustrates the media and the general public and
helps breed suspicion among those already distrustful of the system. Yet
those closely guarded details especially about the physical evidence give
law enforcement a yardstick for measuring the truthfulness of witnesses.
Eyewitness accounts must always be challenged and compared against the
physical evidence. Many witnesses to the shooting of Michael Brown made
statements inconsistent with other statements they made and also
conflicting with the physical evidence. Some were completely refuted by
the physical evidence.
As an example, before the results of the private autopsy were
released, witnesses on social media during interviews with the media and
even during questioning by law enforcement claimed that they saw Officer
Wilson stand over Michael Brown and fire many rounds into his back. Others
claimed that Officer Wilson shot Mr. Brown in the back as Mr. Brown was
However, once the autopsy findings were released showing that Michael
Brown had not sustained any wound to the back of his body, no additional
witnesses made such a claim. And several witnesses adjusted their stories
in subsequent statement. Some even admitted that they did not witness the
event at all but merely repeated what they heard in the neighborhood or
others or assumed had happened.
Fortunately, for the integrity of our investigation, almost all
initial witness interviews including those of Officer Wilson were reported.
The statements and the testimony of most of the witnesses were presented to
the grand jury before the autopsy results were released by the media and
before several media outlets published information and reports that they
received from a D.C. government official.
The jurors were, therefore, prior to the time that the release of
information going public and what followed in the news cycle, the jurors
were able to have already assessed the credibility of the witnesses
including those witness whose statements and testimony remain consistent
throughout every interview and were consistent with the physical evidence
in this case.
My two assistants began presenting to the grand jury on August 20th.
The evidence was presented in an organized and orderly manner. The jurors
gave us a schedule of when they could meet. All 12 jurors were present for
every session and all 12 jurors heard every word of testimony and examined
every item of evidence.
Beginning August 20th and continuing until today, the grand jury
worked tirelessly to examine and re-examine all of the testimony of the
witnesses and all the physical evidence. They were extremely engaged in
the process, asking questions of every witness, requesting specific
witnesses, requesting specific information and asking for certain physical
evidence. They met on 25 separate days in the last three months, heard
more than 70 hours of testimony from about 60 witnesses and reviewed hours
and hours of recordings of media and law enforcement interviews by many of
the witnesses who testified.
They heard from three medical examiners and experts on blood, DNA,
toxicology, firearms and drug analysis. They examined hundreds of
photographs, some of which they asked be taken. They examined various
pieces of physical evidence. They were instructed on the law and presented
with five indictments ranging from murder in the first degree to
Their burden was to determine, based upon all of the evidence, if
probable cause exists to believe that a crime was committed and that Darren
Wilson is the person who committed that crime. There is no question, of
course, that Darren Wilson caused the death of Michael Brown by shooting
him. But the inquiry does not end there.
The law authorizes a law enforcement officer to use deadly force in
certain situations. The law also allows all people to use deadly force to
defend themselves in certain situations.
So, the grand jury considered whether Wilson was the initial aggressor
in this case or whether he was – or whether there was probable cause to
believe that Darren Wilson was authorized as a law enforcement officer to
use deadly force in this situation or if he acted in self-defense.
I detail this for two reasons. First, so that everyone will know
that, as promised by me and Attorney General Holder, there was a full
investigation and presentation of all evidence and appropriate instruction
of the law to the jury, to the grand jury. Second, as a caution to those
in and out of the media who will pounce on a single sentence or a single
witness and decide what should have happened in this case based on that
tiny bit of information.
The duty of the grand jury is to separate fact from fiction. After a
full and impartial and critical examination of all the evidence and the law
and decide if that evidence supported the filing of any criminal charges
against Darren Wilson, they accepted and completed this monumental
responsibility in a conscientious and expeditious manner.
It is important to note here and say again that they are the only
people, the only people who have heard and examined every witness and every
piece of evidence. They discussed and debated the evidence among
themselves before arriving at their collective decision. After their
exhaustive review of the evidence, the grand jury deliberated over two
days, making their final decision. They determined that no probable cause
exists to file any charge against Officer Wilson and returned a no true
bill on each of the five indictments.
The physical and scientific evidence examined by the grand jury,
combined with the witness statements, supported and substantiated by that
physical evidence tells the accurate and tragic story of what happened.
A very general synopsis of the testimony and the physical evidence
presented to the grand jury follows. Please note, as I have promised, the
evidence presented to the grand jury, with some exceptions and the
testimony of the witnesses called to the grand jury will be released at the
conclusion of this statement.
At approximately 11:45 a.m. on Saturday, the 9th of August, Ferguson
Police Officer Darren Wilson was dispatched to the Northwinds Apartment
complex for an emergency involving a 2-month-old infant having trouble
breathing. At approximately 11:53, while still at the Northwinds call,
Wilson heard a radio broadcast for a stealing in progress at a market on
The broadcast also included a brief description of a suspect. A black
male in a white t-shirt who took a box of Swisher cigars. Other officers
were dispatched to that store.
Officer Wilson remained with the mother and infant until EMS arrived
to transport them to the hospital. Officer Wilson had left Northwinds
complex in this Ferguson police vehicle, a Chevy Tahoe SUV and drove west
on Canfield toward West Florissant, an additional description of the
stealing suspect was broadcast about that time, wearing a red hat, yellow
sox, khaki shorts and he was with another male.
As Officer Wilson was attending to his emergency call on Northwinds,
Michael Brown and a companion were in the local convenience store on West
Florissant. Michael Brown`s activity in that store was recorded by the
store security cameras, the video often played following its release in
August by the Ferguson Police Department shows Michael Brown grabbing a
handful of cigarillos and heading toward the exit without paying.
As Michael Brown and his companion left the store, someone inside the
store called the police. After crossing West Florissant, the two walked
east on Canfield in the middle of the street, Mr. Brown directly behind his
companion. As Officer Wilson continued west on Canfield, he encountered
Michael Brown and his companion still walking in the middle of the street.
As Wilson slowed or stopped, as he reached Mr. Brown, he told him to
move to the sidewalk. Words were exchanged and they continued walking down
the middle of the street. As they passed, Wilson observed that Michael
Brown had cigarillos in his hand and was wearing a red hat and yellow
At approximately 12:02 p.m., Wilson radioed that he had two
individuals on Canfield and needed assistance. Officer Wilson backed his
vehicle at an angle blocking their path and blocking the flow of traffic in
both directions. Several cars approached from both east and west but were
unable to pass the police vehicle. An altercation took place at the car
with Officer Wilson seated inside the vehicle and Mr. Brown standing at the
During the altercation, two shots were fired by Officer Wilson while
still inside the vehicle. Mr. Brown ran east on Canfield and Officer
Wilson gave chase. Near the corner of Canfield and Copper Creek, Mr. Brown
stopped and turned back towards Officer Wilson. Officer Wilson also
Michael Brown moved toward Officer Wilson several more shots were
fired by the officer and Michael Brown was fatally wounded. Within seconds
of the final shot, the assist car arrived. Less than 90 seconds passed
between Officer Wilson`s first contact with Michael Brown and his companion
and the arrival of that assist car.
During the investigation, many eyewitnesses were interviewed by
various media outlets. Several others chose not to talk to the media but
contacted law enforcement directly. Witnesses were interviewed by local
and federal law enforcement – sometimes together, sometimes separately.
But all statements were provided to the other – to the other party.
All previous statements of witnesses who testified before the grand
jury were also presented to the grand jury, whether they were media
interviews or whether they were interviews by the FBI or by the county
police department. The statements of all witnesses, civilian, law
enforcement and experts were challenged, of course, by other law
enforcement, by the prosecutors and by the grand jurors themselves.
The common and highly effective method of challenging a statement is
to compare it to the previous statements of the witness for consistency and
to compare it with the physical evidence. Physical evidence does not
change because of public pressure or personal agenda. Physical evidence
does not look away as events unfold. Nor does it block out or add to
memory. Physical evidence remains constant and, as such, is a solid
foundation upon which cases are built. In statements change, witnesses
were confronted with the inconsistencies and conflicts between their
statements and the physical evidence.
Some witnesses admitted they didn`t actually see the shooting or only
saw a part of the shooting or only repeating what they had heard on the
street, some others adjusted parts of their statements to fit the facts.
Others stood by original statements even though their statements were
completely discredited by the physical evidence.
Several witnesses describe seeing an altercation in the car between
Mr. Brown and Officer Wilson. It was described as tussling, wrestling, a
tug of war or just some movement. Several other witnesses describe Mr.
Brown as punching Officer Wilson while Mr. Brown was partially inside the
Many of the witnesses said they heard a gunshot while Mr. Brown was
still partially inside the vehicle. At least one witness said that no part
of Mr. Brown was ever inside the vehicle and that the shot was fired
through an open window while Mr. Brown was standing outside. The vehicle
and Officer Wilson`s clothing and equipment were examined by various
technicians and scientists.
Mr. Brown`s blood and/or DNA were located on the outside of the
driver`s door. His blood and DNA were also found on the outside of the
left rear passenger door of the police vehicle. Mr. Brown`s blood or DNA
was found on the inside of the driver`s door. The upper left thigh of
Officer Wilson`s pant leg, the front collar of Officer Wilson`s shirt and
on Officer Wilson`s weapon.
Additionally, a bullet fired from Officer Wilson`s weapon was located
inside the driver`s door. The shot was fired from inside the vehicle,
striking the door in a downward angle at the arm rest. The second bullet
was not recovered.
Regarding the gunshot wound to Mr. Brown, it should be noted that the
three separate autopsies were conducted. One by St. Louis County medical
examiner`s office, one by a private pathologist and one by the Department
of Defense Armed Forces medical examiner.
The results of all three autopsies are consistent with one another in
all significant respects. Mr. Brown had a gunshot graze wound to the right
hand – to the right thumb. The path of that bullet is away from the tip
of the hand. Soot consistent with a close range gun shot is present inside
Officer Wilson also had a medical examination, which indicated some
swelling and redness to his face.
Almost all witnesses stated that after they heard the shot fired,
while Mr. Brown was at the car, he hesitated, then ran east on Canfield.
Most stated that almost immediately Officer Wilson got out of his vehicle
and chased after him. Some witnesses stated Wilson fired at Mr. Brown as
he chased after him, striking him. At least one witness saying he struck
or one of those shots struck Mr. Brown.
Others stated that he did not fire until Mr. Brown turned and came
back toward Officer Wilson. At least one witness stated that as Officer
Wilson got out of his vehicle, he shot Mr. Brown multiple times as Mr.
Brown stood next to the vehicle. Yet another witness stated that Officer
Wilson stuck his gun out the window and fired at Mr. Brown as Mr. Brown was
One witnesses stated there were actually two police vehicles and four
officers present but only one officer fired a weapon. Most witnesses
agreed that near the corner of Canfield and Copper Creek, Mr. Brown stopped
and turned around facing Officer Wilson. Some said Mr. Brown did not move
toward Officer Wilson at all but was shot multiple times as he stood near
the corner with his hands raised.
Some subsequent interviews with law enforcement or in their testimony
before the grand jury, many of the same witnesses acknowledged that they
didn`t actually see the shooting. Some were running for cover, some were
relating what they heard from others or, as I said, what they assumed
happened in that case. So other witnesses maintained their original
statement that Mr. Brown had his hands in the air and was not moving toward
the officer when he was shot.
Others said that he was shot – excuse me, several witnesses stated
that Mr. Brown did not raise his hands at all or that he raised them
briefly and then dropped them and turned toward Officer Wilson who then
fired several rounds. Other witnesses stated that Mr. Brown stopped for a
very brief period then moved toward Officer Wilson again. One described
his movement toward Officer Wilson as a full charge.
According to some witnesses, Officer Wilson stopped firing when Mr.
Brown stopped moving toward him and resumed firing when Mr. Brown started
moving toward him again. These witnesses did not make any statements to
The descriptions of how Mr. Brown`s hands – raised his hands or the
position of his hands is not consistent among the witnesses. Some
described his hands as being out to his side, some said in front of him
with his palms up, others said his hands were raised near his head or were
by his shoulders. Still others said they were in front of his chest or
down by his stomach. Others described his hands as being in a running
position or in fists.
There are also various witness – there are also various witness
statements regarding Mr. Brown`s movement after he stopped and turned back
toward Officer Wilson. Several witnesses said Mr. Brown never moved toward
Officer Wilson and was shot where he stood at the corner. Most said that
the shots were fired as he moved toward Wilson.
Mr. Brown`s movements were described as, they said, walking, moving
fast, stumbling or full charge. Like other aspects of this case, the
varying descriptions were sometimes provided by the same witnesses in
subsequent statements or testimony.
The entire area was processed by the St. Louis County crime scene
unit. A total of 12 rounds were fired by Officer Wilson. Two shots at the
car, ten more shots farther east on Canfield.
Mr. Brown sustained a graze wound to his thumb while standing next to
the vehicle. He sustained six or seven more gunshot wounds depending upon
whether one of the shots was an entry or re-entry wound. Mr. Brown
sustained a second graze wound, another graze wound to his right bicep. He
also sustained wounds to his right forearm, upper front right arm, lateral
right chest, upper right chest, forehead and top of the head. The top of
the head, forehead and perhaps the upper right chest were consistent with
his body being bent forward at the waist.
Except for the first and last wounds, the medical examiners are unable
to determine the order of the shots. The graze wound to the thumb
sustained at the vehicle is likely the first wound. It was the only close
range shot. The shot to the top of the head was most likely the last. It
would have rendered him immediately unconscious and incapacitated.
Mr. Brown`s body was located approximately 153 feet east of Officer
Wilson`s car. Mr. Brown`s blood was located approximately 25 feet farther
east past his body.
Nearby tenant during a video chat inadvertently captured the final ten
shots on tape. There was a string of several shots followed by a brief
pause followed by another string of several shots.
As I stated earlier, the evidence and the testimony – excuse me, will
be released following this statement. I`m ever mindful that this decision
will not be accepted by some and may cause disappointment for others, but
all decisions in the criminal justice system must be determined by the
physical and scientific evidence and the credible testimony corroborated by
that evidence, not in response to public outcry or for political
Decisions on a matter as serious as charging an individual with a
crime simply cannot be decided on anything less than a complete critical
examination of all available evidence. Anything less is not justice. It`s
my sworn duty and that of the grand jury is to seek justice and not simply
obtain an indictment or conviction.
I do want to say that during this extremely tense and painful time
that we have, the citizens of this community should be and I know are very
mindful of the fact that the whole world is watching and watching how we
respond and how we react. I would urge each and every one of them with the
loss that was suffered by the Brown family, no young man should ever die.
This is a loss of life and it`s a tragic loss regardless of the
But it`s opened old wounds and it`s given us an opportunity to address
those wounds as opposed to in the past where they just fade away. For how
many years have we been talking about the issues that lead the incidents
like this and yet after a period of time it just sort of fades away?
So, my – I urge everybody who is engaged in the conversation, who is
engaged in the demonstrations to keep that going, to stay with that, not to
let that go and to do it in a constructive way, a way that we can profit
from this, a way that we can benefit from this by changing the structure,
by changing some of the issue, by solving some of the issues that lead to
these sorts of things.
I join with Michael Brown`s family and with the clergy and with anyone
else and everyone else, the NAACP and the, excuse me, the Urban League and
every government official and every private citizen that you heard in
urging everyone to continue the demonstrations, continue the – continue
the discussion, address the problems but do so in a constructive way and
not in a destructive way, which is – I have time for a few questions now.
Just kind of start here. I guess the gentleman in the black sweater?
REPORTER: (INAUDIBLE) whether the grand jury made this decision
unanimously, and can you tell us whether you presented any charges,
recommended any charges be brought to this grand jury?
MCCULLOCH: The first question is whether the vote, the grand jury by
statute is not allowed nor am I or anyone else allowed to ask or to discuss
the vote or the deliberations themselves. The grand jury is a very secret
process, and it should be in order to protect that secrecy, to protect the
witnesses so that people can come out and talk about and speak freely in
Jury deliberations in the grand jury or trial jury, they`re not
recorded. In a trial, of course, they`re unanimous, but by statute, a
grand jury is not allowed nor is anyone allowed to ask what the verdict –
or I`m sorry, what the vote was nor are they allowed to or anyone allowed
to ask what the discussion was, the opinions expressed by the other grand
We present – I didn`t present, no. My two assistants did all of the
presentation in the grand jury. We prepared as their legal advisers, of
course, as we do in every case, potential charges for that. And presented
– in this case we presented five charges, five indictments to them. Yes,
REPORTER: I heard you describe some very problematic witness
statements. Do any rise to the level of you going after perjury charges?
MCCULLOCH: No, I thing there are a number of witnesses who truly
believe what they said. The ones who were consistent throughout even in
the face of their testimony being in conflict with the physical evidence
that was there. I think they truly believe that that`s what they say. But
So, no, some of the others – yes, were making it up, but they all
pretty much acknowledged that, you know, they saw parts and made up other
Yes, ma`am. OK.
REPORTER: Bob, there have been many that have been critical of this
process calling it a secret trial. Do you regret taking this to the grand
jury? Do you wish there had been a coroner`s jury, some other forum for
presenting this evidence?
MCCULLOCH: No, not at all. I certainly don`t regret taking this. I
think it was a good decision to take this to the grand jury. You know, we
presented to this – to this grand jury as I detailed in here all the
evidence that there possibly could be, all of which will be available, all
of which will be available and available as we finish this tonight.
So, everyone will be able to examine that same evidence and come to
their own conclusion. That`s the only thing I urge. And I know people
aren`t going to go home and read everything that was on there and make a
decision based on that.
But you need to keep in mind that these grand jurors poured their
hearts and souls into this process. Their term was scheduled to end in
early September. And they gave up their lives, they put their lives on
hold, they put their families on hold, they put everything on hold so that
they could come in and do their civic duty, and it was a very emotional
process for them.
I met with them before any evidence started to tell them what the
process was going to be. And I met with them today after their decision.
I can tell you just how emotional and how draining it was for each and
every one of them. So, to suggest anywhere or anyone suggesting that, that
somehow, you know, it`s just not a full and fair process is just unfair to
these people. They poured their hearts and souls into this.
Yes, ma`am. Go right next to you after that.
REPORTER: I had it right over, I promise. Can you tell us more about
the grand jury in we heard basic demographics, ways and facts. Can you
tell us about the ages and the way those folks voted?
MCCULLOCH: I really can`t. That was the information that the judge
released and allowed to be released on the demographics or the makeup of
the grand jury. What I can tell you and not speaking too far out of line
is that when the judge, any judge picks a grand jury, they`re looking for a
cross-section of St. Louis County. And I will say that almost any
demographic category you can come up with is going to be represented on
that grand jury.
The various ages, income, where they live, how they live, retired, not
retired, still working, blue collar, professional, almost anything you can
think of will be on that grand jury. They tend to be that way across the
spectrum. We have three a year.
REPORTER: Sir, were there any African-American witnesses who
testified that Michael Brown was coming towards the officer when Brown was
MCCULLOCH: Yes. All the ones that I mentioned specifically about –
the ones I mentioned specifically were all African-Americans. The one who
indicated that he was – came at him at a full charge and that as Officer
Wilson fired shots at him, Mr. Brown stopped and Officer Wilson stopped
shooting and as Mr. Brown started charges at him again, those are his
words, his testimony, Mr. Wilson started shooting again.
So, the others who had very consistent stories not just with each
other – or not just their stories or their testimony throughout but they
were consistent with the others, several others, they`re all African-
REPORTER: I wonder if you can tell us a little about Officer Wilson`s
testimony and perhaps his status tonight.
MCCULLOCH: I have no idea what his status is. But his testimony was,
again, it`s in the packet that will be released, but his testimony and, you
know, these are questions a lot that were asked by the grand jurors
questioning him and challenging him on why he didn`t use lesser force, why
he didn`t run away. And rather than get into the specifics – I will say
that, he did testify, of course, that he was sitting in the car and was
punched by Mr. Brown. I think all that information from his version out
there is out there.
I specifically didn`t do that because, like in any case, the target or
the suspect is – has the most interest in the case. And so, we don`t put
a whole lot of stock – we love to hear from them but don`t put a whole lot
of stock or can`t rely solely on that testimony.
So, yes, sir? The blue shirt.
REPORTER: You mentioned that there`s video of the final 10 shot.
Would that be released with the rest of the evidence you`re releasing
MCCULLOCH: I assume that microphone is going somewhere, but it`s not
REPORTER: The video of the five ten shots, would that be released
with the rest of the evidence?
MCCULLOCH: There`s not video. There`s audio. He was on a video chat
and in the background. Yes, that should be in the packet, if it`s not,
we`ll get the audio out.
Yes, sir. Kevin?
REPORTER: I want to ask you a question imaging what the people who
are protesting tonight might say. They`d say, look, this jury had nine
whites on it and three blacks. They`d say you have a reputation, right or
wrong, of being pro-police. What do you say to somebody who might be out
there who thinks it wasn`t justice? How do you boil it down? Why was this
justice, this outcome?
MCCULLOCH: You know, it`s hard to boil down everything. As I said,
it has to be based upon all the information that`s available. You can
certainly take out a witness here, a witness there, and come to a different
conclusion, but I think everyone has to look – they`ll have the ability to
look at every bit of evidence and information that was put on and all the
testimony and can do that.
And some, I understand, I understand some people have made up their
minds both ways and are not going to change. So, there isn`t a whole lot I
can do. What I would urge them to do is express those feelings, express
them in a constructive way and try the make some changes so that nothing
like this ever happens again.
REPORTER: You just explained that we need to work on issues so that
this kind of thing won`t ever happen again. Can you explain what are some
of those fixes that need to happen, and are any of them including whether
or not police should shoot somebody whose hands are maybe at their stomach,
maybe at their sides or maybe up in the air and they are unarmed?
MCCULLOCH: You know, it`s difficult to answer – in fact, it`s
impossible to answer questions like that because there are so many
variables that play into every case. And so, there`s just no way the
answer a question like that. And so, you have to look at every bit of
information in every case that comes in. The idea, I hope, is to avoid
ever being in that situation.
REPORTER: Mr. McCulloch, you`re somebody who`s had his record
questioned by many members of the community, with cases that had happened
in the past. So, how do you feel making this – announcing this decision?
What message do you think it sends to the community that says that they
have had numerous members of their community, young predominantly black
males killed by police with impunity? What kind of message do you think
this decision says to them?
MCCULLOCH: Well, a much better message than you`re sending, that
young men being killed with impunity. They`re not being killed with
We look at every case that comes through, and whether they`re young
black men or young white men. We`ve had young white men who tragically
have been killed by police officers in situations. And we look at each and
every one of those and hopefully learn from each and every one of those how
to avoid being in that situation in the future, whether it`s a justified
So, I think that`s what – that`s what has to go. And I think the
people in the community, they need to make their voices heard and they need
to address those – they get those issues so we`re never in this position
REPORTER: I think people looking at this from around the country are
going to be struck by the fact that there is not a single law in the state
of Missouri that protects and values the life of this young man who
unquestionably was shot and killed dead – there`s no dispute about that –
by the police officer. What do you say to people who wonder is there
something wrong with the laws here that allows this to happen, that after
this happens says, we just move on essentially and that this is justice?
Is this really justice or is there something wrong with the laws in the
state that would say –
MCCULLOCH: Well, you know, it`s another question that really I don`t
have an answer to that question. What`s wrong with the law? There are no
laws to protect this.
Every law out there is to protect the safety of every individual,
regardless of their age and regardless of their race. And so, if those
laws are not working, then we need to work to change them. And that`s
about all that we can – that`s not all but that`s what we should be doing,
and that`s where this needs to go from here.
So – yes, sir.
REPORTER: Mr. McCulloch, you`ve been accuse bid some of passion the
buck by standing bag and putting this evidence in front of the grand jury
instead of taking a stand. Isn`t that what you were elected to do?
Shouldn`t you have taken a stand in this case?
MCCULLOCH: You have to understand, in part of that system, there
isn`t anyone in the system as part of the checks and balances we have in
this system, is that no one office, no one individual has the ultimate or
absolute authority. If charges were filed in this case, as they`re filed
in other cases, the case would still go to a preliminary hearing or to the
grand jury. There still has to be a probable cause determination.
No one can just file a charge and go directly to a jury trial. That
just cannot happen. And we have an obligation to present the evidence.
I don`t know how anyone can say it was – we`re passing the buck by
gathering all this information in evidence and meeting with the grand jury.
It`s something we do on a weekly basis. We do it day in and day out, or
week in and week out. So, it`s certainly not passing the buck.
Yes, ma`am. Back in the corner there.
REPORTER: Hi. Can you give the specific vote breakdown and what`s
the possibility of federal charges? Are those still a possibility and
MCCULLOCH: I can`t give you a vote breakdown because I don`t know
that. And neither I – and I can`t ask nor can the grand jurors reveal
The federal investigation is still ongoing. They have all the
information, all the evidence that we have. They had it as we got it, when
we finished a day`s worth of grand jury testimony, within a day or two that
was in the hands of the Department of Justice. When they did an interview,
within hours that was in the hands of the Department of Justice.
So, they will conduct their interview, their interview, their
investigation as we did. They`re looking at different types of laws,
obviously, and different violations. So – but when they will complete
that, I have no – I have no insight into that.
REPORTER: Did any witnesses refuse to testify? And if so, how was
that handled in?
MCCULLOCH: I didn`t hear the last part.
REPORTER: Yes. If any witnesses refused to testify, how was that
MCCULLOCH: There were – there were a few witnesses who were not
brought in. There were witnesses who – you know, one didn`t make a
statement. There were a couple who just disappeared.
We spent a lot of time searching for them and with the assistance of
the FBI, but were unable to locate a couple of them. So, none of the
information – though in one case I think we had a statement from the
witness, it wasn`t presented to the grand jury. Actually, I think there
were a couple of them.
Yes, ma`am. We`ve only got time for a couple more here.
REPORTER: You cite Officer Wilson`s description of Brown`s movement
toward him as a charge. Was there any other evidence that might have led
the grand jury to conclude Wilson had reasonable cause for the use of
MCCULLOCH: Again, I think you have to have – I`m not privy to the
deliberations. So I can`t say what they saw as highly significant or not.
But they had all the information and they were charged with and they were
told that here`s what the law requires, that you consider all of the
evidence and the information.
And so, it`s not just – in most cases, it is not just one bit of
evidence that says, all right, that`s it, that`s all you need to hear.
It`s everything that is presented, which is why we wanted to make this as
complete and thorough as possible.
REPORTER: What justification are you going to be using to release the
grand jury evidence? I know there`s been some dispute as to whether a
court order is going to be needed to present what it is you`re saying
you`re able to present tonight.
MCCULLOCH: You know, I mean, I won`t bore you with all the legal
details and technicalities of it, but essentially it is now a closed
investigation, which makes it an open file. It`s a lot more complex than
that. But essentially that`s how the Sunshine Law operates. When it`s a
closed investigation, when it`s a closed case, it`s an open file.
And so, that`s the basis. We`re following the Sunshine Law. There`s
no specific request for it. I assume there would be a request. But I
thought it was important in the first place to release the information. So
– yes, ma`am?
REPORTER: Bob, obviously many are not happy with this decision
tonight, especially the family of Michael Brown. If they`re watching, what
would you want to say to them this evening?
MCCULLOCH: As I said at the very outset, my heart goes out to them.
That regardless of the circumstances, they lost a young man. They lost a
And I`ve said many times before that the pain that goes along with
that loss is just something that most people can`t understand. And so –
but at the same time, everything was presented, you know?
And it`s – things don`t – I mean, but everything was presented.
Everything was given to the grand jury. It was all put in front of them.
And the 12 people made a decision that based upon all that evidence, that
as tragic as this is, it was not a crime or is not one where charges should
have been filed.
You know, it doesn`t lessen – it doesn`t lessen this tragedy by the
fact that it was a justifiable use of force or self-defense. There`s still
a loss of life here. And the family is going to – is going to have that
loss forever. That will be with them for a long time.
No police officer – no young man should ever be killed by a police
officer. And no police officer should ever be put in that position. And
so, that`s why I keep urging people to keep this talk going.
So many times, we`ve seen in the past where the discussion starts and
then it fades away and then we have the same issues and we`re back here
again. I don`t ever want to be back here. I mean, so, we have to keep
that discussion going and everybody has to stay engaged in it. This is a
horrible tragedy, and we don`t want to see any repeats. So, thank you.
MADDOW: St. Louis Prosecuting Attorney Bob McCulloch announcing
tonight in front of the assembled media at the Justice Center in Clayton,
Missouri, that there will be no indictment filed against Ferguson, Missouri
Police Officer Darren Wilson in the shooting death of Michael Brown.
We`re told that president Obama will be speaking on this matter
shortly. We`ve been looking at live pictures of protests outside the
police department in Ferguson, Missouri, which is nearby, but not
immediately adjacent to Clayton, Missouri. Clayton is the county seat.
We`ve also seen some live images of other protests in other parts of
the country, including Oakland, California, where there`s a lot of
protesters out in the streets.
In terms of the reaction, the Brown family has released a statement
saying, “We`re profoundly disappointed that the killer of our child will
not face the consequences of his actions. While we understand that many
others share our pain, we ask that you channel your efforts in a way that
makes a positive change. We need to work together to fix the system that
allowed this to happen. Join with us in our campaign to ensure that every
police officer working the streets in this country wears a body camera. We
respectfully ask that you keep your protests peaceful, answering violence
with violence is not the appropriate reaction. Let`s not just make noise.
Let`s make a difference.”
Darren Wilson`s attorneys have also released a statement on this
behalf, saying today, “A St. Louis grand jury released a statement that no
charges would be filed in the case involving Officer Darren Wilson. From
the onset, we have maintained and the grand jury agreed that Officer
Wilson`s actions on August 9th were in accordance with the laws and
regulations that govern the procedures of an officer.
Again, there will be no indictment of the officer who killed Michael
Brown on August 9th in Ferguson, Missouri.
Our ongoing coverage of this decision and the reaction around the
country continues now.
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