DoJ won’t charge Darren Wilson, excoriates Ferguson in report

Confirming expectations, the U.S. Department of Justice has announced that it will not file federal civil rights charges against the police officer who shot Michael Brown following an altercation on the streets of Ferguson, Mo. [CBS] Contrary to a visual theme repeated before countless news cameras through weeks of protests, “no, Michael Brown’s hands probably were not up” at the time of the shooting [Wesley Lowery, Washington Post] In the end, “Hands Up — Don’t Shoot” 2014’s iconic protest gesture, was founded in the self-serving, oft-repeated eyewitness account of Brown chum/soon-established-robbery-accomplice Dorrian Johnson. And he was credible why?

At the same time, the report released yesterday by the U.S. Department of Justice makes clear (AP, WaPo) that the Ferguson, Mo. police department was up to its hip in bad practices, ranging from the rights-violative (knowingly baseless arrests and stops, arresting persons for recording police actions) to the cynical (“revenue policing” aimed at squeezing money out of the populace over subjective/petty offenses that include “manner of walking.”)

Whether these bad local police practices are a suitable subject for federal oversight, and where the actually existing U.S. Department of Justice gets off complaining about high-handed and revenue-driven law enforcement given its own sorry track record, are other questions. But any view of Ferguson’s troubles in the back-view mirror should now acknowledge two things: 1) many people rushed to assume Officer Darren Wilson’s guilt who should have known better; 2) even so, there was much to protest in Ferguson law enforcement. (cross-posted, with a new concluding paragraph, at Cato at Liberty).

More links of interest: Don’t miss Conor Friedersdorf’s “parade of horrors” summary of the worst police abuses bared in the DoJ report [The Atlantic]; Alex Tabarrok on the Ferguson “kleptocracy” [Marginal Revolution] and Stephen Carter on “Ferguson and Its Money-Hungry Police” [Bloomberg View]; Scott Greenfield on whether or why to trust in the USDOJ.


  • “Dorrian Johnson. And he was credible why?”

    I should trust the government’s evaluation of his credibility why?

    “many people rushed to assume Officer Darren Wilson’s guilt who should have known better; ”

    I don’t assume Officer Wilson is guilty, I just don’t trust the government’s declarations of his innocence. Nothing in the DOJ report changes that.

    • Dr. Baden’s autopsy of Michael Brown put the knife into the “hands up” claim. The fatal wound was in the top of Brown’s head, which location is incompatible with “hands up” but is consistent with Officer Wilson’s claim of being charged by Brown. Not trusting government at all is worthy of an end of the bar pronouncement in a low class bar. There is easy to understand evidence in the Ferguson case, which evidence conveniently shows Officer Wilson’s justification defense to be true.

      Civil rights activists routinely declaim lynchings of blacks in the South. Besides being cruel, lynching use mob rule instead of legal process in determining guilt. Thus Eric Holder’s and President Obama’s promotion of mob rule is so painful to me.

      After the Rodney King trial, a commission was established to study the cesspool of the Los Angeles Police Department as inferred from Officer Fuhrman’s statements of 8 and 1/2 years before the Brown/Goldman savage murders. The Goldman fellow was stabbed 47 times and Ms. brown, the former Mrs. Simpson, was nearly beheaded. The people of Los Angeles, the home of Hollywood, could not understand playing a role as part of a movie project. They would arrest Laurence Olivier for murder based on his brilliant portrayal of Richard III. Nobody looked at the efforts over decades to foster good race relations. Thus the commission found nothing really and pinned their results on a statistical disparity in traffic stops. Driving while black, DWB, became the catchphrase of the times. Nobody asked how DWB would be carried out when it is nearly impossible to determine the race or sex of drivers going down the road at 80 mph. One fellow in Florida, a police official, insisted that he was a involved in a DWB stop even though the stop was on a dark night, and he his car had tinted windows.

      The report against Ferguson looks like boiler plate nonsense from many pastern and practice investigations. The DOJ had no predicate for their investigation as the facts in the Brown shooting were clear and the case was simple.

  • I don’t assume Officer Wilson is guilty, I just don’t trust the government’s declarations of his innocence. Nothing in the DOJ report changes that.

    So talk to me, Matt. Just what would convince you? It’s government that arrests the suspect, investigates the alleged crime, presents charges, offers prosecutorial evidence, and tries the defendant in a court.

    The DoJ, headed up by Eric Holder, failed to find Officer Wilson liable. That should make you think for a second. Mr Nussbaum covers it well- the only thing the DoJ could find was a trumped-up charge of racial profiling.

    You don’t have to trust government all the time. I sure as hell don’t. But for once, I really believe that justice was served correctly.

    • @Bill H.

      “So talk to me, Matt. Just what would convince you?”

      1. Cops lie. The courts have explicitly given them the green light to lie to suspects, witnesses and other third parties in order to obtain evidence. Because of this, they lie all the time and they have gotten good at it.

      2. Cops rally around and protect their own even in the most egregious cases of misconduct, and prosecutors actively cooperate with this.

      “The DoJ, headed up by Eric Holder, failed to find Officer Wilson liable.” What makes you imagine that Holder was in any way interested in any other outcome? Even in the most egregious cases, individual officers rarely face any serious consequences.

      What will it take to convince me that Officer Wilson was justified in shooting Brown? Evidence that has never been touched by the Ferguson PD, the St. Louis county DA’s office or the DOJ. Evidence that can be described in much stronger terms than just being consistent with Wilson’s account of what happened.

  • So basically, no matter what has been said, no matter the evidence presented, you still think Wilson guilty. Just where do you expect to find this -by your standards- uncontaminated, untainted evidence? The only thing you left out was the coroner’s examination, and that was consistent with all other evidence.

    Or are you merely pushing the “conspiracy” button? .

  • Careful Matt. One day, you may your own standards applied to you.

  • […] writers at National Review and Red State have taken a look at DoJ’s Ferguson report (our earlier post on it) and say conservatives should be in the forefront of criticizing and calling for reform of the […]