Attorney Ben Crump, the lawyer for the Brown family who also represented Trayvon Martin’s parents, talks to the Tom Joyner Morning Show about the grand jury’s decision to not indict Office Darren Wilson in the shooting of Mike Brown.
TJMS: Where do you look to go from here?
Well, we will explore all the legal avenues available. The parents are profoundly disappointed and devastated but they still ask for people to be peaceful and calm and let’s make some positive change. But the system needs to be indicted. This system where we have the local prosecutor that has a symbiotic relationship with the local police department and the police officers sit in judgement as to whether they should indict a police officer in the killing of a young person of color is completely unfair to the citizens. And it’s going to be this way in every city until we change this system.
The questions that he asked this police officer during this grand jury proceeding? It’s unbelievable as a lawyer that I sit here and say he has never been cross-examined. It’s almost as if this police officer and this prosecutor were together. He wasn’t a police officer, he was a defense attorney.
Is it true that the courts did not inform the Brown family before the decision was announced?
They found out from the media – and it was very painful – that the decision was going to be announced. It was part of the disrespect that this office have shown to this family throughout the process. They wanted a special prosecutor. They never trusted this prosecutor. The system needs to be indicted. The souls of Michael Brown and thousands of other minority people scream out from the grave that we’ve got to change this system. We’re trying to tell people let’s not just make noise, let’s make a difference. We’re trying – The National Bar Association, the association of lawyers of color, we’re trying to get young people to channel that energy into becoming voters and using social media. We have a [social media] blackout planned wherever you are from 8:09 p.m. to 12:39 p.m. to represent the over four hours that Michael Brown laid on the ground with blood coming out of his head in Ferguson to say that we won’t forget. We’ve got to be constructive.
What happened to the 48 hours (advance notice) that was promised?
(Laughs) This prosecutor…what happened to doing things we always do? We have a prosecutor that is supposed to recommend charges and seek a conviction? We all watch Law and Order – when have you ever seen a prosecutor not try to get a conviction? He said ‘We’re just going to put everything out there, we’re not going to recommend any charges at all because this is a fair way to do it. So is that to say the other 28 years you were a prosecutor and you had grand juries that you were unfair to them because you didn’t do it this way? Don’t change the rules now. Why do the rules change when it’s our children? We want equal justice for our children, because black life matters.
How do you get heard? It’s like they don’t see you until something explodes.
That’s the sadness of the whole thing. They don’t hear us. They don’t respect our voices. We’ve got to dig deep. Everybody feels a little empty this morning. This proposal for the Michael Brown law that every policeman in every American city will have a body camera. This is what the civil rights community wants. This is what corporate America wants. We’ve got to do it so we will have transparency. Everywhere in the U.S. – we got the 12-year-old being shot in Cleveland, we got the 14-year-old being shot in Louisiana, we’ve got the 28-year-old brother in New York just show for walking down the steps and the police said he did nothing wrong. In all these situations, you have to really doubt that a police officer is going to be charged in any scenario. We need the Tom Joyner Family to help us be constructive and engage. We need people to be engaged not just when it’s emotional but when it’s not emotional. We need people to go to the City Commission meeting to say we want video cameras on these cops who are policing us while they protect and serve everybody else.
Where does the case go now?
Obviously, the Attorney General and The Justice Department will look to see if they can bring federal charges or not. They will also look into the Ferguson Police Department to see if there was pattern and practice that led to this. Right now, the only remedy we have left is a civil wrongful death suit so that we can finally cross-examine this police officer instead of giving him softball questions about why he killed an unarmed teenager in broad daylight.
There has to be a grand jury indictment in order to have a public trial.
It’s so hurtful to Michael Brown’s father and mother that the person who killed their child won’t have to stand trial. He won’t have to face the evidence. He won’t have to be cross examined. It’s very likely he won’t be held accountable because the federal standard is such a high burden to overcome. The Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment give you a right to due process. It doesn’t guarantee justice, it just guarantees you a chance at justice. That’s all our communities want is our chance at justice. We learned from Trayvon, if it’s transparent, that even though we don’t like it, we don’t want it, we don’t agree to it, if it’s transparent we can accept it more. It’s hard to accept what we just saw in St. Louis.