Ferguson
July 30, 2020

After reviewing the 2014 shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Wesley Bell announced on Thursday that he will not file any charges of murder or manslaughter against Darren Wilson, the former police officer who fatally shot Brown.

Bell took office in January 2019, and said he decided to reexamine the case after requests from the Brown family and community. Brown, an 18-year-old Black man, was shot by Wilson, who is white, following a scuffle. The incident sparked days of protests and unrest in Ferguson. A grand jury later declined to indict Wilson, who claimed he shot Brown in self-defense.

"The question for this office was a simple one: Could we prove beyond a reasonable doubt that when Darren Wilson shot Michael Brown he committed murder or manslaughter under Missouri law?" Bell said. "After an independent and in-depth review of the evidence, we cannot prove that he did." Still, he added, "our investigation does not exonerate Darren Wilson."

Bell's office spent five months reviewing forensic reports, witness statements, and other pieces of evidence, and because there is no statute of limitations on filing murder charges and Wilson was never charged and tried, double jeopardy was not an issue, The Associated Press reports. Catherine Garcia

February 10, 2016

The U.S. Justice Department filed a civil rights lawsuit against Ferguson, Missouri, on Wednesday, with Attorney General Loretta Lynch saying the city's residents have "suffered the deprivation of their constitutional rights — the rights guaranteed to all Americans — for decades. They have waited decades for justice. They should not be forced to wait any longer."

The lawsuit cites a "pattern or practice of conduct that deprives persons of rights, privileges, or immunities secured or protected by the Constitution or laws of the United States," specifically alleging that officials in Ferguson use illegal practices in conducting stops, searches, and arrests; use excessive force; and discriminate against African Americans. The Justice Department is calling on the federal courts to force Ferguson "to adopt and implement policies, procedures, and mechanisms that identify, correct, and prevent the unlawful conduct."

On Tuesday, the Ferguson City Council approved a revised version of a consent decree that was intended to fix problems in the police department and municipal court found during an investigation following the fatal officer-involved shooting of Michael Brown in August 2014, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports. The Justice Department says the revisions to the consent decree will likely be challenged. Catherine Garcia

September 18, 2015

The St. Louis Police Board, which includes Ferguson, Missouri, in its jurisdiction, decided this week that it will no longer permit county police officers to use dogs for crowd control purposes.

The decision comes after the Department of Justice (DoJ) report on policing habits in Ferguson strongly critiqued the practice of siccing dogs on local citizens to induce compliance. However, St. Louis Police Chief Jon Belmar maintains that even prior to this decision, his officers did not use dogs in this manner, contrary to the DoJ’s "strong implication that we did."

This new policy will not apply to the Ferguson Police Department itself, which as of April 2010 prohibits "the use of K-9 to unlawfully intimidate or threaten subjects." However, the DoJ report found, "The department’s own records demonstrate that, as with other types of force, canine officers use dogs out of proportion to the threat posed by the people they encounter, leaving serious puncture wounds to nonviolent offenders, some of them children." Bonnie Kristian

August 11, 2015

Police in Ferguson, Missouri, have released video footage of the moments before a teenager was shot by officers on the anniversary of Michael Brown's death.

Tyrone Harris, 18, was shot Sunday by plainclothes officers, and authorities say the video appears to show him pulling a weapon from his waistband. Harris is in critical condition and is charged with four counts of assault on law enforcement, five counts of armed criminal action, and one count of shooting at a motor vehicle, NBC News reports. The video was given to the police by a local business.

Police said the officers were in an unmarked car when Harris opened fire. The officers chased him on foot, authorities said, and he was shot after he allegedly fired at them with a stolen 9mm handgun. The plainclothes officers are on administrative leave. St. Louis County authorities declared a state of emergency on Monday after the shooting, and at least 150 people have been arrested during protests in and around Ferguson over the past few days. Catherine Garcia

August 10, 2015

St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger declared a state of emergency Monday following unrest as Ferguson marked the first anniversary of Michael Brown's death.

After a demonstration of 1,000 people Sunday commemorating the death of Brown, an unarmed black man, at the hands of a white officer, police shot and critically injured a young man they said had opened fire on them. Friends identified the injured man as Tyrone Harris, 18.

"The recent acts of violence will not be tolerated in a community that has worked so tirelessly over the last year to rebuild and become stronger," Stenger said in a statement.

On Monday, police started making arrests after at least 50 protesters jumped a police barricade to a courthouse, where they sat down and linked arms, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports. Julie Kliegman

August 9, 2015

On the anniversary of Michael Brown's death, hundreds of people gathered in Ferguson, Missouri, to take part in a march and observe nearly five minutes of silence.

The silence began at 12:02 p.m. Sunday, the time Brown was fatally shot by Officer Darren Wilson on Aug. 9, 2014, and lasted 4.5 minutes to represent the 4.5 hours his body remained in the street, The Associated Press reports. The march was led by Brown's father, Michael Brown Sr., who thanked supporters for not letting his son's death be "swept under the carpet." A church service was held later in the day, and Brown also took part in a parade on Saturday. Some protests occurred, including one outside of the Ferguson police headquarters, but none were close to the size of the demonstrations that took place following the shooting. Catherine Garcia

August 9, 2015

One year after Michael Brown, an unarmed black man, was fatally shot in Ferguson, Missouri, by a white cop, NPR sat down with President Barack Obama. Morning Edition host Steve Inskeep suggested Obama would not have put such an emphasis on race in his first term for political reasons, an idea the President pushed back against.

"I feel a great urgency to get as much done as possible," Obama said. "And, there's no doubt that after over six and a half years on this job, I probably have an easier time juggling a lot of different issues. And, it may be that my passions show a little bit more."

Michael Brown Sr. led a march through Ferguson on Saturday to commemorate his son, whose death sparked nationwide protests against police brutality. Julie Kliegman

August 8, 2015

One day shy of a year after Michael Brown was shot and killed in Ferguson, Missouri, his father led a march from the site of his death to the high school where Brown had graduated from days before.

Michael Brown Sr. hasn't shaved his beard since his son died.

"Everything I can't say is here," he told CNN, touching his beard. He said he'd shave it once he sees signs of justice, which he isn't particularly optimistic about. His son's shooting sparked nationwide Black Lives Matter protests that continue today, as other unarmed black men are killed by police officers.

Darren Wilson, a white police officer, fatally shot Brown, an unarmed black teenager, on Aug. 9, 2014. Wilson, who stepped down from the police department in November, was cleared of wrongdoing by the U.S. Justice Department and a grand jury. Julie Kliegman

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