Despite a renewed energy for the Black Lives Matter cause, Wesley Bell, the new prosecuting attorney in St. Louis County, has come to the same conclusion that a grand jury and federal investigation had previously: Officer Darren Wilson should not be charged in the killing of Michael Brown six years ago.
"Although this case represents one of the most significant moments in St. Louis's history, the question for this office was a simple one: Could we prove beyond a reasonable doubt that when Darren Wilson shot Michael Brown he committed murder or manslaughter under Missouri law?" Bell said. "After an independent and in-depth review of the evidence, we cannot prove that he did."
The 2014 death of Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, sparked nights of rioting, property destruction, and tear gas that foreshadowed similar circumstances that unfolded on the streets of Minneapolis and elsewhere this summer after the police killing of George Floyd.
Witnesses of Brown's death claimed that the 18-year-old had his hands up when he was shot. Despite that later being disproven by evidence gathered by federal and state investigators, the slogan "Hands Up, Don't Shoot" became a rallying cry in the infancy of the Black Lives Matter movement.
Wilson resigned months after the incident.
In his statement, Bell noted that though Wilson could not be charged with committing any crime, he was not free from blame for how the tragedy unfolded.
"There are so many points at which Darren Wilson could have handled the situation differently, and if he had, Michael Brown might still be alive," he said.
Wilson's attorney expressed surprise that the case was even being reviewed.
"Everybody that's looked at the case has come to the same conclusion," Jim Towey said. "There was not a crime and there should be no prosecution."