FERGUSON, Mo. – St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Wesley Bell has drawn the ire and frustration of protesters Thursday after declining to file charges against a Ferguson police officer who shot and killed Michael Brown nearly five years ago.
Bell appeared at a news conference to provide an update on his office’s review of the Michael Brown case.
Bell, who unseated long-time prosecuting attorney Bob McCulloch in an August 2018 Democratic primary, campaigned on criminal justice reforms and, promised to reopen the investigation into Brown’s death prior to his inauguration.
At Thursday’s news briefing, Bell said his office conducted a five-month review of the case and believed it could not prove beyond a reasonable doubt that former Ferguson officer Darren Wilson committed murder or manslaughter under Missouri law.
Officer Wilson shot and killed Brown during a street confrontation on August 9, 2014 in the Canfield Green apartment complex. Wilson claimed self-defense, saying Brown—who was unarmed—had come at him menacingly moments after attacking Wilson inside his police SUV.
The shooting set off months of often-violent protests.
In the months after the shooting, then-prosecuting attorney McCulloch put the case in the hands of a grand jury, rather than decide whether to file charges himself.
In late November 2014, McCulloch announced that the grand jury opted not to indict Wilson in Brown’s killing. The decision sparked weeks of civil unrest in Ferguson and national turmoil.
Wilson resigned from the Ferguson Police Department that same month.