Who is in the grand jury, and what is its role?
The grand jury is made up of nine whites and three blacks. Its task is to determine whether there is probable cause to believe Officer Wilson committed a crime, and if so, which one. The grand jury meets in private, accompanied by two prosecuting attorneys.
What does the grand jury base its decision on?
The prosecutor usually chooses the evidence that the grand jury will hear, but in this case, the grand jury was allowed to call witnesses and issue subpoenas, according to Susan McGraugh, a law professor at the St. Louis University who has followed the case extensively. Grand jurors view photographs, forensic evidence and medical reports. Witnesses who have testified include people who saw the events and police officers who worked on the investigation. While it is unusual in grand jury proceedings for the defendant to be allowed to testify, Officer Wilson also gave testimony.
After hearing all of the evidence, the grand jury will vote to determine whether there is probable cause to believe that Officer Wilson committed a crime. If nine of the 12 grand jurors agree, he will be indicted.
What events led to the shooting of Michael Brown?
11:54 a.m. Michael Brown and Dorian Johnson leave Ferguson Market and Liquors, a convenience store. Surveillance video shows Mr. Brown stealing some cigarillos.
They head toward their homes, walking north on West Florissant Avenue, then turning right on Canfield Drive. They walk in the middle of the street, which is usually quiet at this time of day.
12:01 p.m. Officer Darren Wilson arrives, driving alone in his police car. Speaking through his window, he tells the two men to move away from the street.
Mr. Brown and Officer Wilson begin to scuffle. Forensic evidence reveals that Officer Wilson’s guns were fired twice in the car, first striking Mr. Brown in the arm and missing him the second time.
Mr. Brown runs away, and Officer Wilson gets out of his car and pursues him on foot, continuing to fire. Autopsies show that Mr. Brown had been shot at least six times.
What parts of the incident are in dispute?
Accounts differ on who started the altercation and whether there was a struggle for the officer’s gun. Officer Wilson said that he was pinned in his vehicle and feared for his life while struggling over his gun with Mr. Brown. He said that Mr. Brown punched and scratched him repeatedly, leaving swelling on his face and cuts on his neck.
Mr. Johnson, who was with Mr. Brown, said that Mr. Brown never reached for the gun. He said Officer Wilson tried to choke Mr. Brown, grabbed his arm to pull him into the car and threatened to shoot.
Officer Wilson has also said that Mr. Brown had been running toward him when he fired the fatal shots. Some witnesses said that Mr. Brown appeared to be surrendering with his hands in the air when he was killed.
How many investigations are underway?
At least three.
The St. Louis County grand jury began hearing evidence on the shooting on Aug. 20 and is expected to reach a decision this month on whether to indict Officer Wilson.
The F.B.I. opened a civil rights inquiry into the shooting on Aug. 11. Officials said that while the federal investigation is continuing, the evidence so far did not support civil rights charges against Officer Wilson.
The Justice Department later began its own civil rights investigation to examine whether the police in Ferguson have a history of discrimination or misuse of force.
What did the autopsies show?
Dr. Michael M. Baden
A private autopsy requested by the family of Mr. Brown showed that he was shot at least six times: four times in the right arm and twice in the head. The autopsy was performed by Dr. Michael M. Baden, the former chief medical examiner for the City of New York.
Dr. Baden said that one of the bullets entered the top of Mr. Brown’s skull, suggesting that his head was bent forward when it hit him, and caused a fatal wound. No gunshot residue was found on the body, which would suggest that the rounds were not fired from very close range; however, Dr. Baden did not have access to Mr. Brown’s clothing, which could contain residue.
Local officials have not yet released their report on the initial autopsy, though a person briefed on the report said that it showed evidence of marijuana in Mr. Brown’s system. A third autopsy conducted by a military doctor as part of an investigation by the Justice Department also found that Mr. Brown was shot six times.
How long did the protests last?
Mr. Brown’s death prompted weeks of demonstrations and a response from the police that include tear gas and rubber bullets. Confrontations between protesters and law enforcement officers continued even after Gov. Jay Nixon deployed the Missouri National Guard to help quell the unrest. Since then, protests in Ferguson have persisted in smaller numbers. In early October, the Ferguson Police Department handed over responsibility for policing protests to the county police department, which is larger and better equipped.
Police command post The police have used the parking lot of this shopping center, which contains a Target store, as a staging area.
Site of the robbery Mr. Brown is suspected to have taken part in a robbery at Ferguson Market & Liquor before he was shot.
McDonalds One of the many businesses damaged during the protests.
Strip malls Several of the businesses have been boarded up after being damaged or looted.
QuikTrip The convenience store was looted and set on fire last week and has been a gathering point for protesters.
Site of Michael Brown’s Death
What has contributed to the racial tension in Ferguson?
The protests against the police have pitted the predominantly black community against a nearly all-white police force. Of the 53 commissioned officers in the Ferguson Police Department, four are black.
While most of St. Louis County is white, Ferguson and neighboring towns are predominantly black. Blacks were once a minority in Ferguson, but the city’s demography has shifted in the last decade after white families moved out to surrounding suburbs. Ferguson, a town of 21,000, is a “relatively stable, working and middle-income community,” said Richard Rosenfeld, a crime trends expert and professor at the University of Missouri-St. Louis. “But it does have its pockets of disadvantage.”
Is Ferguson generally a violent area?
Not when compared with neighboring towns.
The violent crime rate is far lower in Ferguson than in Jennings, and it is comparable to two other adjacent towns of similar size?!
You tell me my friends, I don’t condone excessive force, but what is excessive when your life is on the line and you are forced to react in a split second?
What caused this incident to take place?
The 911 tapes said there was a “stealing taking place” event…
Is this another reason for people to loot, rob and pillage?
Leave me your comments here…