No federal charges in Ferguson shooting
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The Justice Department will not seek federal civil rights charges against former police officer Darren Wilson in the Ferguson, Mo., shooting death of unarmed black teenager Michael Brown, officials said Wednesday.

Federal investigators said they did not find enough evidence to show that Wilson knew he was violating the law when he shot Brown, nor can they disprove his claim that he had shot the 18-year-old because he feared for his life.


“There is no evidence upon which prosecutors can rely to disprove Wilson’s stated subjective belief that he feared for his safety,” they said.

Investigators needed to meet a high standard to prosecute Wilson, and the decision not to charge him was expected by observers of the case.

Though Department of Justice (DOJ) did not need to prove that Wilson was aware he was violating a constitutionally protected civil right when he shot Brown, the department would have needed to show that he had known that he was in the wrong.

“The only possible basis for prosecuting Wilson under section 242 would therefore be if the government could prove that his account is not true — i.e., that Brown never assaulted Wilson at the SUV, never attempted to gain control of Wilson’s gun, and thereafter clearly surrendered in a way that no reasonable officer could have failed to perceive,” the DOJ statement said.

The decision not to charge Wilson was announced at the same time as the agency's findings that the Ferguson Police Department had violated the constitutional rights of its black citizens by disproportionately subjecting them to the use of force, arrest and citation.

“As detailed in our report, this investigation found a community that was deeply polarized, and where deep distrust and hostility often characterized interactions between police and area residents,” Attorney General Eric HolderEric Himpton HolderObamas discuss pandemic, voting, anxiety and community in new podcast Joy Reid debut delivers 2.6 million viewers for MSNBC The Hill's 12:30 Report — Presented by Facebook — Republicans rejigger summer convention plans MORE said in a statement.

Though black citizens account for about two-thirds of the city’s population, they were subject to 93 percent of arrests and 90 percent of citations for minor charges.

The shooting of Brown and subsequent investigation ignited a national debate over racial bias in policing and spurred protests around the country.

President Obama has since cited the events in Ferguson when calling for broad criminal justice reform, and he has hosted protesters from the city at the White House.