The grand jury’s decision not to indict Darren Wilson, the Missouri police officer responsible for the shooting death of unarmed black teen Michael Brown, is one that has resulted in further outcry and protests across the nation. While the decision shocked some and came as less of a surprise to others, the jury’s verdict is not the final step in Wilson’s fate.
A Justice Department investigation, the potential for a license removal and a possible civil lawsuit, are all consequences Wilson can still face for his involvement in the case. With 44 states having the legal right to remove a police officer’s license, Missouri serves as one of them, and it is one of the few states that doesn’t require an officer to be convicted of a crime before his license is revoked. However, experts say that the odds of the state’s police department penalizing Wilson in this capacity is very low.
“Statistically, the number for revocations for excessive force around the country are pretty small,” Roger Goodman, expert on police licensing at St. Louis University tells the HuffingtonPost. Currently, Wilson is reportedly in talks with the Ferguson Police Department to resign on his own terms, which will completely rule out any chances of the police force taking action against him.
Aside from the possibility of license removal, the Justice Department can intervene with an investigation that is separate from that of the grand jury’s. While the federal agency can bring charges to Wilson for violating Brown’s civil rights, such charges are rare. In the case of unarmed Florida teen Trayvon Martin who was shot and killed more than two years ago, the department is still debating about whether to bring charges against George Zimmerman.
Brown’s family can also take matters a step further by filing a civil lawsuit against both Wilson and the city of Ferguson.
The family’s lawsuit against Ferguson will have to prove that the city’s police department has a history of poor training and misconduct, while the lawsuit against Wilson will have to prove that the officer wrongfully killed Brown with no clear evidence of justification.
While there are no reports on whether the Brown family will file any further legal actions, their attorney Benjamin Crump told CNN’s Anderson Cooper that the family is considering the option of civil remedies to obtain “some sense of justice.”