Roland Martin talks to Legal Analyst Midwin Charles about the lack of indictment of Officer Darren Wilson in the shooting death of Michael Brown in Ferguson.
“This was a classic “how not to get an indictment”. I’ve been saying all along that I would be very surprised if this grand jury came back with an indictment. People get indicted all day everyday with absolutely no evidence,” Charles said.
Click the link above to hear the entire interview or read it below:
ROLAND MARTIN: Our folks out there still continue to have lots of dialogue as it relates to what took place in Ferguson last night, more than 40 folks were arrested. We also had these spontaneous protests taking place all across the country shutting down highways, bridges, you name it, New York City, Boston, Los Angeles, Dallas, I mean 13, 15 different cities where you had these spontaneous protests and it was great to see folks step out there and show their activism, but still lots of questions being raised with regards to the grand jury as well as how prosecuting attorney Bob McCulloch, how he worked this case. Joining me right now is legal analyst Midwin Charles. And Midwin, going through this testimony of Dan Wilson, it is stunning, it is stunning to see the ineptness of this prosecuting attorney, in fact yesterday being prompted over at a news conference that a first year law student could’ve done better. And I’m going to ask you this, this is very interesting; so in volume 1 of the grand jury testimony, on page 9, lines 15 through 25, McCulloch says that he gave the grand jury everything including quote statements that are floating around on the internet and nobody knows who’s making that statement. Why in the hell would a DA give a grand jury testimony that cannot be collaborated that literally he pulled off of the Internet?
MIDWIN CHARLES: Because that DA does not want an indictment. I mean you just can’t get around that, but good morning Roland, and good morning everybody. This is what a District Attorney does when they don’t want an indictment. I mean this is a classic how not to get an indictment approved. The entire process from day one has been this way and I’ve been saying all along on CNN and MSNBC that I would be very surprised if this grand jury came back with an indictment. And I was right. I was right. Not only did he present everything to the grand jury, including the kitchen sink, which you never do, as a prosecutor you focus the information that you give the grand jury, you don’t inundate them with information. You focus it, it’s narrowly tailored, and it only focuses on the information that shows that this person probably committed a crime. I got to let your viewers, not your views, but your listeners, understand that probable cause is such a low standard. I mean people get indicted all day every day on absolutely no evidence. The fact that this lasted this long, 25 days over the course of three months, 60 witness, three different autopsies, you never, ever see that in a grand jury proceeding, even in cases that are (inaudible) that’s something I’ve been saying all along. This is not a complex case, Roland. It involves one man who pulled the trigger seven times, and it involves another young man who dies, and perhaps some forensic evidence and some physical evidence, and a few witnesses, that’s it. You know, when you’re looking at other cases, for example, you know, I’ve had experience with federal crime cases. When you’re looking at cases that are complex, I’m talking multiple defendants, I’m talking conspiracy charges, you don’t even see 60 witnesses in those kind of grand jury proceedings, I mean they get in, they get out.
ROLAND MARTIN: Well, also what was interesting is that in terms of how he conducted this grand jury, not only that, he comes out and makes this statement. So he releases all this information, he – and knowing full well that the Department Of Justice is considering their own case – knowing full well the family could potentially file a civil suit, he literally has given Darren Wilson’s defense team everything.
MIDWIN CHARLES: Yeah. Yeah. Which is, again, you rarely see that in a grand jury, at least at this stage. What he’s essentially done in this process, in this grand jury process, is pretty much put on a trial. He put in incriminating evidence before the grand jury, and he put in exculpatory evidence. Exculpatory evidence meaning that suggests the innocence of Darren Wilson. I don’t understand why any prosecutor would do that at this stage because all you are looking to do, all you were looking for the grand jury to decide, is that a crime probably happened. And the fact that he was unarmed, the fact that he died over 100 feet away from the police cruiser that Darren Wilson was in, and the fact that you have several witnesses that say he had his hands up, that’s enough. That’s enough.
ROLAND MARTIN: Well, he didn’t even challenge allowed the inconsistencies coming from Darren Wilson, and also let’s keep in mind Darren Wilson had, I mean, you look at the testimony, he did not do an initial report right after the shooting. He literally had six weeks to, in a sense, concoct his version of what took place.
MIDWIN CHARLES: That’s right. And the lack of protocol, the lack of following through standard operating procedures in this case is stunning. It is absolutely stunning. Not only with Darren Wilson, but with everybody else. I read the testimony also where the medical examiner showed up and did not take photographs because the batteries had died in the camera.
ROLAND MARTIN: Right.
MIDWIN CHARLES: That is absolutely unacceptable. But I’ll tell you one thing, though, that I find, that I think is interesting about those kinds of facts is this sort of lapses in protocol, is this is where the federal government might step in an investigate the procedures of this police department. And if they find that these sort of procedures are widespread when it comes to cases that involve African Americans, then you might start to see federal charges in abuses of civil rights. So I think that these sort of lapses in protocol, that in standard in operating procedure, I think are glaring, I think they’re obvious, and the federal government should be paying attention with respect to the violation of the civil rights of the people of Ferguson.
ROLAND MARTIN: And let’s be real clear, Bob McCulloch is a democrat elected there. Governor Jay Nixon in Missouri, a democrat, I’m making that point because this is not about a Republican versus a Democrat thing. And so people need to understand that Bob McCulloch also ran for DA this year unopposed. He was re-elected to a four year term in November, and it is shameful how he has conducted this investigation. I do not bel—frankly I don’t believe anything that he says. I don’t believe that he was serious about looking out for the public, looking out for, he literally put Mike Brown on trial, and then he trashed nearly every single witness. So he basically told the public, hey, don’t believe any of these people because they all changed their stories.
MIDWIN CHARLES: That’s right. And when you look at the prosecutor who asked Darren Wilson the question, it was like a, hey, you know, good ol’ boys club, you know. Do you want a cup of coffee? I mean that was the tenor of the questions, it wasn’t aggressive. It didn’t bite at the truth. You know, what do you mean he grabbed for your gun? Well, where was the gun? Was it holstered? Was it in your pocket? Was it in the back? Was it on the seat? You know, when you are a prosecutor and you are trying to get an indictment and you put the person that you’re investigating on the stand, you go after them aggressively. You have to really point out those inconsistencies that are in that person’s face.
ROLAND MARTIN: Right.
MIDWIN CHARLES: And he hasn’t done that. And the fact that he only focused on – but they did go aggressive, that’s the irony, is that they were aggressive, with the witnesses that they didn’t like what they had to say.
ROLAND MARTIN: Gotcha.
MIDWIN CHARLES: And when you start to see that sort of inconsistency and aggressiveness you have to ask yourself did he even want an indictment?
ROLAND MARTIN: Gotcha.
MIDWIN CHARLES: Bob McCulloch was out there that night and sounded like a defense attorney.