WASHINGTON — Darren Wilson, the former police officer who shot and killed 18-year-old Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, in August, will not face federal civil rights charges in connection with Brown’s death, Justice Department officials said Wednesday.
DOJ found that Wilson’s use of deadly force against Brown could not be proven to be considered “objectively unreasonable,” and that federal charges were not appropriate.
“There is no evidence upon which prosecutors can rely to disprove Wilson’s stated subjective belief that he feared for his safety,” states a DOJ report on the decision.
Wilson, who is white, fatally shot Brown, who was black and unarmed, on Aug. 9. Brown’s death, and the heavily militarized police response to demonstrators in the following days and weeks, accelerated a national debate about police brutality and systemic racism. Brown was killed just weeks after NYPD Officer Daniel Pantaleo placed Eric Garner, another unarmed black man, in a fatal chokehold during a confrontation with police.
Attorney General Eric Holder had launched a separate investigation into Wilson’s actions, dispatching FBI agents to the area where Brown was killed to interview witnesses. In November, a grand jury decided not to indict Wilson in Brown’s death, setting off heated, destructive protests in Ferguson and surrounding towns in St. Louis County, as well as several days’ worth of demonstrations nationwide.
Most observers did not expect Wilson to face federal civil rights charges, as Justice Department prosecutors would have needed to show that Wilson intentioned to deprive Brown of his civil rights when he shot him.
The Justice Department made the announcement public following a meeting with Brown’s family members Wednesday morning. DOJ simultaneously released the full details of an investigation into the broader practices of the Ferguson Police Department.