President Obama on Friday defended the Department of Justice's (DOJ) conclusion that there was insufficient evidence to bring civil rights charges against Darren Wilson, the white police officer who shot dead Michael Brown, an unarmed black man, in Ferguson, Mo., in August 2014.

Obama said during a town hall in South Carolina that he had "complete confidence and [stood] fully behind" the DOJ's decision regarding Wilson, who said he killed Brown in self defense.

"We may never know exactly what happened, but Officer Wilson — like anyone else who is charged with a crime — benefits from due process and a reasonable-doubt standard," Obama said, fielding a question about why the DOJ didn't charge Wilson.


"If there is uncertainty about what happened then you can't just charge him anyway, just because what happened was tragic," Obama added, noting that it was "an objective, thorough, independent federal investigation."

The case, which sparked national protests, fueled concerns over use of force by police and raised debates about racially charged policing tactics.

Obama noted that a separate DOJ probe finding systematic bias within the Ferguson police "was very clear."

"What we saw was that the Ferguson Police Department, in conjunction with the municipality, saw traffic stops, arrests, tickets as a revenue generator as opposed to serving the community," Obama said, "and that systematically it was biased against African-Americans in that city, who were stopped, harassed, mistreated, abused, called names, fined — and then it was structured so that they would get caught up in paying more and more fines" that they couldn't pay, Obama said.

The City of Ferguson now has a choice, Obama said, to either enter an agreement with the DOJ to "fix what is clearly a broken and racially biased system" or allow the agency to potentially sue over civil rights violations.

Obama, speaking to South Carolina's Benedict College, a historically black institution, then offered a general defense of police officers.

"Here's the lesson that I would draw from this. I don't think that what happens in Ferguson is typical. I think the overwhelming majority of law enforcement officers, here in South Carolina and any place else ... " Obama started, before apparently reprimanding some in the audience.

"Young men — sit down, I'm in the middle of talking. Thank you."

"The overwhelming number of law enforcement officers," Obama continued, "have a really hard, dangerous job, and they do it well and they do it fairly and they do it heroically. And I strongly believe that," he said.

In an interview aired earlier in the day Friday, Obama said that while Ferguson was not typical, "it's not an isolated incident."