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Justice Department Could Clear Darren Wilson of Any Federal Charges in Ferguson Case

( [email protected] ) Jan 22, 2015 01:34 PM EST
Former Ferguson, Mo. police officer Darren Wilson is unlikely to face charges at the federal level for his involvement in shooting a young, unarmed black man in that city last summer.
Ferguson, Mo. police officer Darren Wilson is pictured in evidence photos released by the St. Louis County Prosecutor's Office on Nov. 24, 2014. Photo: St. Louis County Prosecutor's Office

Former Ferguson, Mo. police officer Darren Wilson is unlikely to face charges at the federal level for his involvement in shooting a young, unarmed black man in that city last summer.

According to a CBS News report, the FBI has completed its investigation on Wilson, who was involved in the fatal shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown. The law enforcement agency forwarded its recommendations to the Justice Department Wednesday with "no charges expected."

"The family of Michael Brown Jr. will wait for official word from the Justice Department regarding whether or not any charges will be filed against the police officer who shot and killed him," Benjamin L. Crump, the Brown family's attorney, said in a written statement released Wednesday. "The family won't address speculation from anonymous sources."

Sara Sidner, Pamela Brown and Shimon Prokupecz of CNN reported that a federal investigation could not find enough evidence to charge Wilson of depriving Brown of his civil rights, which is considered a federal crime. During their investigation, the FBI interviewed over 200 people and looked at mostly the same evidence presented to the grand jury.

"Agents have reviewed numerous surveillance tapes and cell phone videos which captured part of the fatal incident, and determined there was no evidence that Wilson broke any federal civil rights laws," CBS News wrote.

Attorney General Eric Holder, who could leave his office by spring 2015, hoped to complete the probe and make a decision before leaving.

Fox News elaborated on what it would take to mount a federal prosecution against Wilson. Officials and experts told Fox News that an "extraordinarily high legal standard" would have to be met.

"To mount a federal prosecution, the Justice Department would have needed to show that Wilson willfully deprived Brown of his civil rights," Fox News wrote. "That standard, which means prosecutors must prove that an officer knowingly used more force than the law allowed, is challenging for the government to meet."

As for the Ferguson Police Department, CBS News reported that a broader investigation from the Justice Department will continue to look at their practices, including the potential for racial bias among officers.  

"Prosecutors are trying to determine if the largely white Ferguson force has demonstrated a history of discrimination and racial profiling in the majority black community," CBS News wrote.

Antonio French, a St. Louis city alderman who lived near Ferguson, told CNN that some people in the area would be disappointed if no federal charges are brought against Wilson. However, he urged any potential protesters to remain peaceful and nonviolent, regardless of how the decision goes down.

"People have a right to protest ... but we want to keep them peaceful, nonviolent," French said. "Violence makes the situation worse. It divides the community in a time we need to come together and make everyone feel like they can get equal protection."

According to CBS News, the August 2014 shooting in Ferguson sparked protests around the country over the use of force by police officers and the relationship between minorities and law enforcement. The protests later grew in size after a Missouri grand jury decided not to indict Wilson in November.

Tags : Darren Wilson, Ferguson, Ferguson Shooting, Ferguson protests, Ferguson Police Department, Justice Department, FBI, Attorney General Eric Holder, Eric Holder, U.S. attorney general, U.S. law enforcement, Police Officer Darren Wilson, Missouri, St. Louis, Ferguson riots