Michael Brown’s mother: ‘This could be your child’
(CNN) — Michael Brown’s mother says hearing that a grand jury had decided not to indict the officer who killed her son felt like getting shot.
“We heard this and it was just like, like I had been shot. Like you shoot me now — just no respect, no sympathy, nothing,” Lesley McSpadden told CNN’s Sunny Hostin on Wednesday. “This could be your child. This could be anybody’s child.”
A New York Times video captured the moments immediately after McSpadden heard about the decision not to indict Darren Wilson, the white officer who killed her son, Michael Brown, a black teenager. She stood with protesters outside the Ferguson police department, sobbing uncontrollably.
McSpadden’s husband, her son’s stepfather, wrapped her in his arms before turning to the crowd, screaming: “Burn this bitch down.”
“He just spoke out of anger. It’s one thing to speak and it’s a different thing to act. He did not act. He just spoke out of anger,” McSpadden said about her husband, Louis Head.
“When you’re that hurt and the system has did you this wrong, you may say some things as well. We’ve all spoke out of anger before,” she told CNN.
‘They crucified his character’
Brown’s father said the grand jury’s decision changed his view of America.
“I was upset. I didn’t understand,” Michael Brown Sr. said in a conversation with the Rev. Al Sharpton on Tuesday on MSNBC. “It just let me know that where we live is not what we thought, or what I thought. It’s what people have been saying all the time, for a nice little minute: that this was a racist state.”
Sharpton accused Prosecutor Robert McCulloch of trying to disparage Michael Brown Jr. He asked Michael Brown Sr. how he felt about the prosecutor attacking “the character of the victim.”
“They crucified his character,” Brown said.
In the interview, Brown did not cite any specific comments McCulloch had made.
“For people that don’t even know my son, they probably wish they did,” he said, adding that he feels “empty” from the experience. “I’m just crushed.”
In a news conference Monday night announcing the grand jury’s decision, McCulloch extended his “deepest sympathies” to the Brown family and referred to the “tragic death.”
He said the grand jury’s decision was based on evidence and facts, some of which contradicted people who said they witnessed Officer Darren Wilson shooting Michael Brown Jr.
McCulloch had long promised a fair and complete presentation.
“We will be presenting absolutely everything to this grand jury,” he told a radio program in August. “Every statement that a witness made, every witness, every photograph, every piece of physical evidence. Absolutely nothing will be left out.”
Documents released by the prosecutor’s office show that witnesses gave differing accounts.
Should a special prosecutor have been appointed?
Experts disagree over whether McCulloch should have stepped aside and let a special prosecutor handle the case.
His father, a police officer, was killed on the job by an African-American man in 1964, when McCulloch was 12.
HLN legal analyst Joey Jackson said Wednesday that while there can be discussions about the possibility of bias as a result of his father’s death, there is a more fundamental reason he should not have taken the case: the close relationship prosecutors often have with their local police.
“You rely upon the police every day” as a prosecutor, Jackson said on CNN’s “New Day.”
“You give them your support, your resources. They give those resources back to you.”
CNN legal analyst Paul Callan disagreed with the reasoning. A prosecutor should not be disqualified “because he’s worked with the cops closely in the past. I would say, ‘You know something? He’s a guy with integrity, I’ll trust his investigation.'”
“I think the grand jury reached the right result on the facts of this case,” Callan said. Still, “you have to have public confidence in the result.” If the public did not have faith in McCulloch because of his father’s killing, then “maybe because of the level of public distrust, we should have had a special prosecutor,” Callan said.
By Dana Ford and Josh Levs
CNN’s Ana Cabrera contributed to this report.