Written by Carey Gillam
A member of the grand jury that declined to indict the white Missouri police officer who fatally shot an unarmed black 18-year-old sued the prosecutor in the case on Monday, criticizing the way evidence was presented to grand jurors and seeking court permission to speak publicly about the way the case was handled.
The lawsuit was filed in federal court in St. Louis against St. Louis County prosecutor Robert McCulloch by the grand juror, whose name was withheld and was referred to as “Grand Juror Doe.”
The lawsuit relates to the Aug. 9 shooting of Michael Brown by officer Darren Wilson in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson. Brown’s death and the grand jury’s decision not to indict Wilson triggered months of protests over police treatment of African-Americans in the United States.
The suit argues that state laws prohibiting the grand juror from talking about the case are unconstitutional. Jeffrey Mittman, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union in Missouri, said the Brown case is an important public policy issue and the grand juror should be allowed to speak about the proceedings.
After the Nov. 24 announcement by McCulloch that the grand jury decided not to indict Wilson, and the release by McCulloch of evidence presented, some critics accused the prosecutor of unfairly skewing the process in favor of the police officer.
A spokesman said McCulloch had no comment on the lawsuit.
The lawsuit claims that evidence was presented to the grand jury in a manner markedly different than in previous cases heard by the same grand jury, with the “insinuation” that Brown was the “wrongdoer” rather than Wilson.
It also claims the prosecutor’s office presented applicable laws to grand jurors “in a muddled and untimely manner” unlike presentations in other cases.
The grand juror also contends that McCulloch’s public statements about the decision not to indict were not “entirely accurate,” including the “implication that all grand jurors believed that there was no support for any charges,” the lawsuit stated.
The grand jury in the case began meeting in May for a term originally scheduled to conclude in September. But that term was extended so the jurors could take up the Brown shooting.
Lawyers for Brown’s family and some witnesses say he was trying to surrender when Wilson shot him multiple times. Wilson’s supporters say the officer feared for his life and fired at Brown in self-defense.
First of all, I have to say that the wording of the first paragraph puzzled me a bit. Most of the pieces written about this incident, and especially at this point in time, simply refer to the deceased as Michael Brown, not an ‘unarmed black 18-year-old’, and the officer as Darren Wilson, not the ‘white Missouri police officer’. It’s been made abundantly clear that this was a black/white thing for most people, and it seems it is still very much just that in the author’s viewpoint.
That aside, and for argument’s sake, assuming that Grand Juror Doe is a black female, it seems to me the juror’s request to talk about the case is made because she wants to stir the pot and cause a stink for the prosecutor. She didn’t like the way the evidence was presented and she thinks the decision not to indict was wrong. She’s being influenced by the ACLU and all the turmoil that followed the decision.
She fails to understand the reason their names are kept secret is for their own safety and the case can’t be discussed because it would run the risk of being influenced by emotions rather than sticking to the facts and the evidence.
My guess is that somebody is offering big bucks to these guys for the inside story and this gal wants to spill it, but doesn’t want to go to jail for speaking out of turn. Instead, she snuggles up with the ACLU and if they get the right judge, they both win.
This one needs crossing off the list of eligible jurors from this day forth.