A grand jury in Ferguson, Mo., has decided Darren Wilson will not be indicted in the shooting death of Michael Brown, according to reports. The police officer’s involvement in shooting an unarmed black teenager sparked protests, outrage and calls for justice since the August tragedy that ended the 18-year-old’s life.
Prosecutor Robert McCulloch made the announcement at a nighttime news conference in a courtroom. He spoke about media coverage and social media involvement in the case and what he referred to as the unreliability of eyewitness accounts. He said the grand jury weighed evidence and testimony for two days and concluded there was “no probable cause to indict” Wilson. The 12-person jury considered charges ranging from first-degree murder to involuntary manslaughter.
Check out video with more details of the jury’s decision below:
President Obama made a statement on the decision, acknowledging the enormity of the announcement, and voicing his understanding of disagreement on the jury’s decision. “First and foremost we are a nation built on the rule of law. We need to accept that this decision was the grand jury’s to make.”
Hurting others or destroying property is not the answer, he added.
He also indicated that he has instructed Att. Gen. Eric Holder to work with communities to repair relations between constituents and law enforcement. “This is not just an issue for Ferguson. It is an issue for America, he said.
School districts in the Ferguson area prepped for the aftermath, mapping out a plan of action in light of protests in initial response to the incident, which previously caused local businesses to shut down and schools to close. The protests took place across the country, highlighting major racial tensions between the African American community and law enforcement, and officials were aware that the ruling in this case can possibly spur even more protests.
Brown’s parents Lesley McSpadden and Michael Brown Sr., were set to travel to Geneva, Switzerland to discuss their son’s case with members of the United Nations Committee Against Torture.
Before the announcement of the jury’s decision, the late teen’s parents urged the public to remain calm and encouraged peace, according to reports, and upon hearing the news of the jury’s decision, Brown’s father was “devastated” that Wilson will not face charges, his spokeswoman told CNN. “While we understand that many others share our pain, we ask that you channel your frustration in ways that will make a positive change. We need to work together to fix the system that allowed this to happen,” the family said in a statement.
USA Today reports that Brown’s mother screamed and sobbed. “I have to explain to Michael Brown’s parents why the system didn’t work for them,” attorney Benjamin Crump told the outlet. “We believe the justice system failed once again. If we don’t change the system, we are going to keep seeing this happen on a weekly basis.”
Crump also indicated that the family holds hope that a federal civil rights investigation will lead to accountability for Wilson and the Ferguson Police Department, and that they will consider filing a wrongful death lawsuit in civil court.
“The family felt the whole process was completely unfair to them,” he added. “Police officers are not held accountable when they kill young people of color.”