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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
No Indictment: Brown Family Profoundly Disappointed; Pres. Obama To Speak Soon About Grand Jury Decision; Prosecutor: There was a full investigation
Aired November 24, 2014 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANDERSON COOPER, AC360 HOST: And Jeff, I just want to let our viewers how are joining us now at the top of the hour 9:00 in the East Coast of the United States 8:00 P.M. here in Ferguson in St. Louis. You're looking on your left-hand side of your screen there for moment before I popped up. You're looking at the screen outside the Ferguson Police Department. On the right-hand side of your screen you're looking at where the announcement is going too made, we anticipate any moment now by the Prosecutor Bob McCulloch, a prosecutor who has been controversial to say the least.
Many of the protesters you see on the left-hand side of your screen wanted to see this prosecutor remove from the case, want a discretional (ph) prosecutor to be appointed, that did not happen. Bob McCulloch who has tight connections with law enforcement, and again that raised a lot of concern among protesters who said his connection to law enforcement, his track record of prosecuting cases where officers that were involved in shooting did not favor some sort of an indictment. And we're looking at some motion but we are anticipating really any minute now to hear from the Prosecutor...
KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Obviously we're having some difficulty with Anderson and I'm hearing now that we do have him back. Let's go back to Ferguson live with Anderson.
COOPER: Yes, thanks very much. Yes, I'm back on location. So again, you're still looking at the -- you're looking at the scene outside the Ferguson Police Department and there is the location, the court room where Prosecutor Bob McCulloch will be making that announcement. Mark you tended to give Officer Wilson the benefit of the doubt in this. If he is not indicted, do you expect the Prosecutor to just announce it, leave or take -- make some sort of consolatory tone, try to calm the situation, do you anticipate him taking questions?
MARK O'MARA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, McCulloch all along has done what I think he believes was appropriate in protecting the process, meaning the full information flow to the grand jury. I know there's been some controversy back and forth but he's done that. He also then has guaranteed or agrees to do the transcripts.
I can anticipate rather than just boldly involvedly (ph) coming out and saying, indictment or no indictment that he's going to explain as best he can the action of the grand jury. Probably take a few minutes to go over some of it, maybe explain the process and try to either blunt the decision if it's a new true bill. Or to explain the decision for, it there'll be charge and make (ph) back with.
TOOBIN: Anderson can I just elaborate on that maybe a little?
COOPER: Yes go ahead.
TOOBIN: I mean I think the best thing he could do is, if this is a no true bill, is to provide facts, evidence, justifications not, you know, general statements about process and fairness. The only thing that's going to persuade people I think that this decision whatever it is, is right or wrong are facts. And I think the best thing he could do is provide as much detail as possible in terms of justifying whichever way the grand jury has come out.
COOPER: Because Jeff, I mean to that point there are still a lot of fact which we frankly do not know. We do not know what facts exactly have been presented to this grand jury. We've seen an independent autopsy report. We've seen the official autopsy report. But there's a lot of forensic evidence, bullet casings and alike and other eye witness statements which we do not know.
TOOBIN: And we can't emphasize that enough. There are certain witnesses who you've interviewed, other people have interviewed their stories have become very well-known. There are other witnesses who have not been public at all. And we don't know what they said.
And I've been saying for awhile, I just think we need to show a good deal of humility about what we know and what we don't know and to the extent any decision by the grand jury is going to get public support.
The way to do that is with facts and evidence. And to the extent McCulloch can provide them, that's the best thing to come this community.
COPPER: Go ahead Mark.
O'MARA: I was just going to say, you know, the -- if this were a trial I would agree with everything Jeff just said. We're talking about a probably cause proceeding, which I jokingly always say is, is my client breathing. If this were a civilian, this is a no brainier. You wouldn't need months and months and months. You wouldn't have to put everything in front of him. It's a probably cause proceeding.
I've never seen a probably cause proceeding in 31 years elevated to this level of frankly chicanery and nonsense. You don't need all of the evidence put in front of grand jury. In fact you never do that, you put a bear bones presentation in front of a grand jury and you go on you way. It's probable...
O'MARA: ... cause it's not beyond reasonable doubt. TOOBIN: But Mark, the way I was thought to be a prosecutor and I think the way responsible prosecutors operate is that, yes you can get an indictment of a ham sandwich everybody knows that.
TOOBIN: But the appropriate way for a prosecutor to behave, is you don't get an indictment unless you believe in good faith that you can prove that case beyond reasonable doubt. Sure, you can get an indictment but that's not the way responsible prosecutors behave.
O'MARA: But Jeff, why if the person believes, why does he have to then parade this through a grand jury with a presentation that takes longer than the trail itself. What -- is he trying to convince himself one way or another, what kind of nonsense?
TOOBIN: Yes, yes, I mean he's trying -- I mean if his operating in good faith he's trying to determine whether there is a case here that can be made beyond reasonable doubt. I don't think you can...
TOOBIN: ... for that.
O'MARA: There's federal prosecutors and state prosecutors every single day who go and they run in front of grand jury. They get a true bill in minutes if not less than an hour. I mean this really...
TOOBIN: But Mark...
O'MARA: ... this is a horrible, horrible...
TOOBIN: But Mark...
O'MARA: ... example to hold up the criminal justice.
TOOBIN: I disagree. We've already acknowledged that this is a unique way to handle it. But in a close case, in a case that there's a self- defense on one side, there's an unjustified act on the other. The idea of actually presenting more evidence than a ham sandwich indictment, I think it's a great way to handle it. And do it in a transparent...
O'MARA: ... is even better.
TOOBIN: Right, but Mark it's not transparent it's in a grand jury number one...
MARK: We're going to see the transcripts.
TOOBIN: Number two. I would agree with you that it would be great if this was how it was done with everybody else. This would never been done if these were civilians, never.
O'MARA: Well, we now have this is a model and we're going to see the transcripts.
COOPER: Guys, guys. I'm going to jump in here. Let's wait until we here directly from County Prosecutor Robert McCulloch who we anticipate speaking any moment now. Remember we had heard from Benjamin Crump the family attorney for Michael Brown. They had been told all along that they would get some advanced notice.
We do not yet if they have received word from the prosecutor. But we're anticipating a statements a very quickly. Jason Carroll is standing by outside the Ferguson Police Department, the site of many protests now over the last several months. And tonight some of the largest we have seen in quite sometime.
Jason, do you have a sense of how large the crowd is right there, I mean earlier we talk to Jake Tapper he said, he thought maybe 400 to 500. What are you seeing?
JASON CARROLL, CNN CPRRESPONDENT: I would say, I think it's safe to say several hundred and growing. The numbers continue to grow. More people continue to come out here. And it starts to spread to social media that a crowd has gathered out here.
And in terms of what we're seeing in this crowd here it's a bit mixed bag, as you look out scan over here you could see -- it's basically a little bit quite right now as we're getting closer to that time when people are hearing that we're expected to hear an announcement.
Most of the people out here are very friendly, one woman telling she just said we're just waiting. We're just waiting for it to be over. But then Anderson just a few minutes ago another man came out to me got right up in my face yelling, saying the media are liars perpetuating the untruth about what's going on out here.
So you do have a mix bag. But once again Michael Brown's family has repeatedly called for nonviolent demonstrations. And by in part that's what we've seen out here. It is a large number of people, you do see through that crowd over there although you might not be able to see from our vantage point now, Ferguson Police Department, members of the Ferguson P.D. waiting on the other side of that barricade their.
Once again, most of the people who have gathered out here with their cameras, with their posters have been peaceful. And they're hearing what Michael Brown's family has been saying, saying in terms of come out here and support Michael Brown but do it nonviolently. Anderson.
COOPER: And Jason this is certainly the largest crowd. I mean, you know, there -- they have been able to maintain protest outside that police station, basically everyday now for some hundred days or so. But this is certainly the largest crowd we have seen.
CARROLL: Absolutely I mean for the past several months when you think about what these demonstrators have been able to do, spreading the words in social media basically to -- in order to get people out here. Just a few hours ago, as soon as word came down that the grand jury had reached a decision, I got a text from one of the protesters saying, "It's going to happen in front of the Ferguson Police Department, everyone come down", and that's what we've been seeing.
And, for the past three months this group has been very organized. They've been down here every single night basically or at least every weekend over the past three months, gathering people down here to voice their opposition to what's been going on, but this by far the largest crown that we've seen. If you look out once again I'm going to scan over the crowd because you can see some of the people have their faces covered and concealed.
And one of the organizer told me that is something he like to see out here. He said if you support Michael Brown, you support his family, he said you should be proud enough to show your face. But again, we're seeing a mixed bag out here. Some people not wanting to show their faces, some people are proud to show what they're doing.
Now they're starting to play music right over here behind us, using some obscenities here in terms of their reference to the Ferguson Police Department. So overwhelming this is antiestablishment type of crowd, and I think as the night goes on we'll have to sort of see how it goes in terms of whether or not we're able to stay here or move to another location. But again right now it's tense and make no mistake about that. But, it is nonviolent.
COOPER: Jason a number of law enforcement personnel have said to me they're concerned about -- given the attention this event is getting, given the interest and the attention this announcement is going to get. That a numbers of people have come from outside the community, have come from outside Ferguson certainly, even outside the state. Are you seeing that on the ground?
CARROLL: Absolutely without question and in fact, you know, just when we say some of the arrest that took place just within the past few days. Some of those arrested came from Illinois. They were not from Missouri, not from Saint Louis. That's been happening since we've been here off and on for the past three months.
A lot of these organizers coming from out of town, and when I asked one of the demonstrators about that, they said, "So what? What difference does it make? If you're speaking out in their camp for injustice, what difference does it make if you're from Saint Louis or if you're from Chicago?"
So, that's where they're coming from in terms of that point of view, in speaking out in terms of injustice, it doesn't matter where you come from. Now, in terms of the people who live in Ferguson who are nonviolent and peaceful, a lot of them Anderson are upset and have been upset about what they've seen. They don't like the idea some of them, of some people coming from outside their community, coming inside here and causing some problems.
So, I do expect to see that a lot of people here in this crowd are not from Ferguson. But once again I expect the crowd to grow.
COOPER: And, Jake Tapper is also standing by and the crowd Jake -- it's now about 12:00 or so past 9:00. We anticipate, we're told the statement is going to be made some 12 minutes ago. It could happen any minute now. Do you know how the crow is going to receive the word, is it just going to kind of spread. There's not a loud speaker set up outside there are there?
JAKE TAPPER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: No, but there are number of cars with the radio on, radio that will assuredly give the news local radio. And people are gathered around the cars listening to the radio. And that I think is the primary way that people here, the several hundred who have gathered here outside the Ferguson Police Department. How they will get news of whether or not the grand jury has decided to indict Officer Wilson.
That seems to be -- I don't think there's a plan. But that seems to be how it's going to happen.
COOPER: And Jake I mean you were integral in the coverage over the summer of the protests that took place here. I'm wondering the kind of mood of the crowd tonight versus what you saw in those early days.
TAPPER: Well people seem -- and when I've spoken to them, convey that they're anxious. They have waited months to hear what the grand jury has decided in the view of those who have gathered here. They feel that there should be an indictment. There should be a trial of Officer Wilson in the view of the several hundred who have gathered here.
They're obviously -- I'm not speaking for every one of them. And so they're anxious to hear what the decision is going to be, obviously there have been several leaks from the grand jury over the last few months.
Conveying sentiment, suggestion that everyone -- now they're saying here we go, here we go were going to get news now as people are gathering around the radio. But in any case there have been leaks suggesting that maybe there will not be indictment. But people are waiting to hear what the grand jury has decided.
COOPER: And we just got two minute warning and now play about minute in 30 second warning so it's going to be any minute and our panelist are standing by as well. Jeff Toobin what are going to be listening for -- and they're walking and let just.
TAPPER: Let just listen.
COOPER: That's Bob McCulloch right there the County Prosecutor Robert McCulloch let's listen in.
ROBERT MCCULLOCH, ST. LOUIS COUNTY PROSECUTOR: Good evening and thanks for your patience. I'm a little late getting up here. So, I have a statement at the very beginning here and then we'll be happy to answer some questions when we're finished with that.
First and foremost, I'd like to again extend my deepest sympathies to the family of Michael Brown. I've said in the past, I know that regardless of the circumstances here, they lost a loved one to violence. And I know that the pain that accompanies such a loss knows no bounds. On August 9th, Michael Brown was shot and killed by Police Officer Darren Wilson. Within minutes, various accounts of the incident began appearing on social media. Accounts filled with speculation and little, if any solid, accurate information. Almost immediately, neighbors began gathering and anger began growing because of the various descriptions of what had happened and because of the underlying tension between the police department and the significant part of the neighborhood.
The St. Louis County police conducted an extensive investigation at the crime scene, at times under very trying circumstances interrupted at least once by random gunfire. Beginning that day and continuing for the next three months, along with -- they along with the agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation at the direction of Attorney General Eric Holder, located numerous individuals and gathered additional evidence and information.
Fully aware of the unfounded but growing concern in some parts of our community, that the investigation and review of this tragic death might not be full and fair. I decided immediately that all of the physical evidence gathered, all people claiming to have witnessed any part or all of the shooting and any and all other related matters would be presented to the grand jury.
The grand jury is 12 members of this community selected by a judge in May of this year, long before this shooting occurred.
I would like to briefly expand upon the unprecedented cooperation between the local and the federal authorities. When Attorney General Holder first announced the federal investigation just days after the shooting, he pledged that federal investigators would be working with local authorities as closely as possible at every step of the way and would follow the facts whenever they may take us.
As General Holder and I both pledged, our separate investigations follow that trail of facts with no preconceived notion of where that journey would take us. Our only goal was that our investigation would be thorough and complete to give the grand jury, the Department of Justice and ultimately the public all available evidence to make an informed decision.
All evidence obtained by federal authorities was immediately shared with St. Louis County investigators. Likewise, all evidence gathered by St. Louis County police was immediately shared with the federal investigators.
Additionally, the Department of Justice conducted its own examination of all the physical evidence and performed its own autopsy. Another autopsy was performed at the request of the Brown family, and all of this information was also shared. Just as importantly, all testimony before the St. Louis County grand jury was immediately provided to the Department of Justice. So although the investigations are separate, both the local and the federal government have all of the same information and evidence.
Our investigation and presentation of the evidence to the grand jury of St. Louis County has been completed. The most significant challenge encountered in this investigation has been the 24-hour news cycle and its insatiable appetite for something, for anything to talk about. Following closely behind were the nonstop rumors on social media.
I recognize of course, that the lack of accurate detail surrounding the shooting frustrates the media and the general public and help breed suspicion among those already distrustful of the system. Yet those closely guarded details, especially about the physical evidence, give law enforcement a yardstick for measuring the truthfulness of witnesses.
Eyewitness accounts must always be challenged and compared against the physical evidence. Many witnesses to the shooting of Michael Brown made statements inconsistent with other statements they made and also conflicting with the physical evidence. Some were completely refuted by the physical evidence.
As an example, before the results of the private autopsy were released, witnesses on social media during interviews with the media and even during questioning by law enforcement claimed that they saw Officer Wilson stand over Michael Brown and fire many rounds into his back.
Others claim that Officer Wilson shot Mr. Brown in the back as Mr. Brown was running away. However once the autopsy findings were released showing that Michael Brown had not sustained any wound to the back of his body. No additional witnesses made such a claim. And several witnesses adjusted their stories in subsequent statements.
Some even admitted that they did not witness the event at all. But merely repeated what they heard in the neighborhood or others or assumed had happened. Fortunately, for the integrity of our investigation, almost all initial witness interviews including those of Officer Wilson were reported.
The statements and the testimony of most of the witnesses were presented to the grand jury before the autopsy results were released by the media and before several media outlets published information and reports that they received from a D.C. government official.
The jurors were, therefore, prior to the time that the released -- the information going public and what followed in the news cycle, the jurors were able to, have already assessed the credibility of the witnesses including those witness whose statements and testimony remained consistent throughout every interview and were consistent with the physical evidence in this case.
My two assistants began presenting to the grand jury on August 20th. The evidence was presented in an organized and orderly manner. The jurors gave us a schedule of when they could meet. All 12 jurors were present for every session and all 12 jurors heard every word of testimony and examined every item of evidence.
Beginning August 20th and continuing until today, the grand jury worked tirelessly to examine and re-examine all of the testimony of the witnesses and all of the physical evidence. They were extremely engaged in the process, asking questions of every witness, requesting specific witnesses, requesting specific information and asking for certain physical evidence.
They met on 25 separate days in the last three months, heard more than 70 hours of testimony from about 60 witnesses and reviewed hours and hours of recordings of media and law enforcement interviews by many of the witnesses who testified.
They heard from three medical examiners and experts on blood, DNA, toxicology, firearms and drug analysis. They examined hundreds of photographs, some of which they asked be taken. They examined various pieces of physical evidence. They were instructed on the law and presented with five indictments ranging from murder in the first degree to involuntary manslaughter.
Their burden was to determine, based upon all of the evidence, if probable cause exists to believe that a crime was committed and that Darren Wilson is the person who committed that crime. There is no question, of course, that Darren Wilson caused the death of Michael Brown by shooting him. But the inquiry does not end there.
The law authorizes a law enforcement officer to use deadly force in certain situations. The law also allows all people to use deadly force to defend themselves in certain situations. So, the grand jury considered whether Wilson was the initial aggressor in this case or whether he was -- or whether there was probable cause to believe that Darren Wilson was authorized as a law enforcement officer to use deadly force in this situation or if he acted in self-defense.
I detail this for two reasons. First, so that everyone will know that, as promised by me and Attorney General Holder, there was a full investigation and presentation of all evidence and appropriate instruction of the law to the jury, to the grand jury. Second, as a caution to those in and out of the media who will pounce on a single sentence or a single witness and decide what should have happened in this case based on that tiny bit of information.
The duty of the grand jury is to separate fact from fiction. After a full and impartial and critical examination of all the evidence in the law and decide if that evidence supported the filing of any criminal charges against Darren Wilson. They accepted and completed this monumental responsibility in a conscientious and expeditious manner.
It is important to note here and say again that they are the only people, the only people who have heard and examined every witness and every piece of evidence. They discussed and debated the evidence among themselves before arriving at their collective decision. After their exhaustive review of the evidence, the grand jury deliberated over two days, making their final decision.
They determined that no probable cause exists to file any charge against Officer Wilson and returned a no true bill on each of the five indictments.
The physical and scientific evidence examined by the grand jury, combined with the witness' statements, supported and substantiated by that physical evidence tells the accurate and tragic story of what happened.
A very general synopsis of the testimony and the physical evidence presented to the grand jury follows. Please note, as I have promised, the evidence presented to the grand jury with some exceptions and the testimony of the witnesses called to the grand jury will be released at the conclusion of this statement.
At approximately 11:45 A.M. on Saturday, the 9th of August, Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson was dispatched to the Northwinds Apartment Complex for an emergency involving a 2-month-old infant having trouble breathing. At approximately 11:53, while still at the Northwinds call, Wilson heard a radio broadcast for a stealing in progress at a market on West Florissant.
The broadcast also included a brief description of the suspect, a black male in a white t-shirt who took a box of Swisher cigars. Other officers were dispatched to that store. Officer Wilson remained with the mother and infant until EMS arrived to transport them to the hospital. Officer Wilson had left Northwinds Complex in his Ferguson police vehicle, a Chevy Tahoe SUV and drove west on Canfield towards West Florissant.
An additional description of the stealing suspect was broadcast about that time, wearing a red hat, yellow sox, khaki shorts and he was with another male.
As Officer Wilson was attending to his emergency call on Northwinds, Michael Brown and a companion were in the local convenience store on West Florissant. Michael Brown's activity in that store was recorded by the store's security cameras, the video often played following its release in August by the Ferguson Police Department shows Michael Brown grabbing a handful of cigarillos and heading toward the exit without paying.
As Michael Brown and his companion left the store, someone inside the store called the police. After crossing West Florissant, the two walked east on Canfield in the middle of the street, Mr. Brown directly behind his companion. As Officer Wilson continued west on Canfield, he encountered Michael Brown and his companion still walking in the middle of the street.
As Wilson slowed or stopped, as he reached Mr. Brown, he told him to move to the sidewalk. Words were exchanged and they continued walking down the middle of the street. As they passed, Wilson observed that Michael Brown had cigarillos in his hand and was wearing a red hat and yellow socks.
At approximately 12:02 P.M., Wilson radioed that he had two individuals on Canfield and needed assistance. Officer Wilson backed his vehicle at an angle blocking their path and blocking the flow of traffic in both directions. Several cars approached from both east and west but were unable to pass the police vehicle. An altercation took place at the car with Officer Wilson seated inside the vehicle and Mr. Brown standing at the driver's window. During the altercation, two shots were fired by Officer Wilson while still inside the vehicle. Mr. Brown ran east on Canfield and Officer Wilson gave chase. Near the corner of Canfield and Copper Creek, Mr. Brown stopped and turned back towards Officer Wilson. Officer Wilson also stopped.
Since Michael Brown moved toward Officer Wilson several more shots were fired by the officer and Michael Brown was fatally wounded. Within seconds of the final shot, the assist car arrived. Less than 90 seconds passed between Officer Wilson's first contact with Michael Brown and his companion and the arrival of that assist car.
During the investigation, many eyewitnesses were interviewed by various media outlets. Several others chose not to talk to the media but contacted law enforcement directly. Witnesses were interviewed by local and federal law enforcement -- sometimes together, sometimes separately. But all statements were provided to the other -- to the other party.
All previous statements of witnesses who testified before the grand jury were also presented to the grand jury, whether they were media interviews or whether they were interviews by the FBI or by the county police department. The statements of all witnesses, civilian, law enforcement and experts were challenged, of course, by other law enforcement, by the prosecutors and by the grand jurors themselves.
The common and highly effective method of challenging a statement is to compare it to the previous statements of the witness for consistency and to compare it with the physical evidence. Physical evidence does not change because of public pressure or personal agenda. Physical evidence does not look away as events unfold. Nor does it block out or add to memory.
Physical evidence remains constant and, as such, is a solid foundation upon which cases are built. When statements changed, witnesses were confronted with the inconsistencies and conflicts between their statements and the physical evidence. Some witnesses admitted they didn't actually see the shooting or only saw a part of the shooting or only repeating what they had heard on the street.
Some others adjusted parts of their statements to fit the facts, others stood by original statements even though their statements were completely discredited by the physical evidence.
Several witnesses described seeing an altercation in the car between Mr. Brown and Officer Wilson. It was described as tussling, wrestling, a tug of war or just some movement. Several other witnesses describe Mr. Brown as punching Officer Wilson while Mr. Brown was partially inside the vehicle. Many of the witnesses said they heard a gunshot while Mr. Brown was still partially inside the vehicle.
At least one witness said that no part of Mr. Brown was ever inside the vehicle and that the shot was fired through an open window while Mr. Brown was standing outside. The vehicle and Officer Wilson's clothing and equipment were examined by various technicians and scientists. Mr. Brown's blood and or DNA were located on the outside of the driver's door. His blood and DNA were also found on the outside of the left rear passenger door of the police vehicle. Mr. Brown's blood or DNA was found on the inside of the driver's door, the upper left thigh of Officer Wilson's pant leg, the front collar of Officer Wilson's shirt and on Officer Wilson's weapon.
Additionally, a bullet fired from Officer Wilson's weapon was located inside the driver's door. The shot was fired from inside the vehicle, striking the door in a downward angle at the arm rest. The second bullet was not recovered.
Regarding the gunshot wound to Mr. Brown, it should be noted that the three separate autopsies were conducted. One by St. Louis County medical examiner's office, one by a private pathologist and one by the Department of Defense Armed Forces medical examiner. The results of all three autopsies are consistent with one another in all significant respects.
Mr. Brown had a gunshot graze wound to the right hand -- to the right thumb. The path of that bullet is away from the tip of the hand. Soot consistent with a close-up -- close-range gun shot is present inside that wound.
Officer Wilson also had a medical examination which indicated some swelling and redness to his face. Almost all witnesses stated that after he heard the shot fired, while Mr. Brown was at the car, he hesitated, then ran east on Canfield. Most stated that almost immediately, Officer Wilson got out of his vehicle and chased after him.
Some witnesses stated Wilson fired at Mr. Brown as he chased after him, striking him. At least one witness saying he struck or one of those shots struck Mr. Brown. Others stated that he did not fire until Mr. Brown turned and came back toward Officer Wilson.
At least one witness stated that as Officer Wilson got out of his vehicle, he shot Mr. Brown multiple times as Mr. Brown stood next to the vehicle. Yet another witness stated that Officer Wilson stuck his gun out the window and fired at Mr. Brown as Mr. Brown was running. One witnesses stated there were actually two police vehicles and four officers present, but only one officer fired a weapon.
Most witnesses agreed that near the corner of Canfield and Copper Creek, Mr. Brown stopped and turned around, facing Officer Wilson. Some said Mr. Brown did not move toward Officer Wilson at all but was shot multiple times as he stood near the corner with his hands raised.
In subsequent interviews with law enforcement or their testimony before the grand jury, many of the same witnesses acknowledged that they didn't actually see the shooting. Some were running for cover, some were relating what they heard from others or, as I said, what they assumed happened in that case. Several other witnesses maintained their original statement that Mr. Brown had his hands in the air and was not moving toward the officer when he was shot. Others said that he was shot -- excuse me. Several witnesses stated that Mr. Brown did not raise his hands at all or that he raised them briefly and then dropped them and turned toward Officer Wilson, who then fired several rounds.
Other witnesses stated that Mr. Brown stopped for a very brief period then moved toward Officer Wilson again. One described his movement toward Officer Wilson as a "full charge."
According to some witnesses, Officer Wilson stopped firing when Mr. Brown stopped moving toward him and resumed firing when Mr. Brown started moving toward him again. These witnesses did not make any statements to the media.
The description of how Mr. Brown's hands -- raised his hands or the position of his hands is not consistent among the witnesses. Some described his hands as being out to his side, some said in front of him with his palms up, others said his hands were raised near his head or were by his shoulders. Still others said they were in front of his chest or down by his stomach.
Others described his hands as being in a running position or in fists. There are also various witness statements regarding Mr. Brown's movement after he stopped and turned back to Officer Wilson.
Several witnesses said Mr. Brown never moved toward Officer Wilson and was shot where he stood at the corner. Most said that the shots were fired as he moved toward Wilson. Mr. Brown's movements were described as, they said, walking, moving fast, stumbling or full charge. Like other aspects of this case, the varying descriptions were sometimes provided by the same witnesses in subsequent statements or testimony.
The entire area was processed by the St. Louis County Crime Scene Unit. A total of 12 rounds were fired by Officer Wilson. Two shots at the car, 10 more shots farther east on Canfield. Mr. Brown sustained a graze wound to his thumb while standing next to the vehicle. He sustained six or seven more gunshot wounds, depending upon whether one of the shots was an entry or a re-entry wound.
Mr. Brown sustained a second graze wound, another graze wound to his right bicep. He also sustained wounds to his right forearm, upper front right arm, lateral right chest, upper right chest, forehead and top of the head. The top of the head, forehead and perhaps the upper right chest were consistent with his body being bent forward at the waist.
Except for the first and last wounds, the medical examiners are unable to determine the order of the shots. The graze wound to the thumb sustained at the vehicle is likely the first wound. It was the only close range shot. The shot to the top of the head was most likely the last. It would have rendered him immediately unconscious and incapacitated.
Mr. Brown's body was located approximately 153 feet east of Officer Wilson's car. Mr. Brown's blood was located approximately 25 feet farther east past his body. Nearby tenant during a video chat inadvertently captured the final ten shots on tape. There was a string of several shots followed by a brief pause followed by another string of several shots.
As I stated earlier, the evidence and the testimony, excuse me, will be released following this statement. I'm ever mindful that this decision will not be accepted by some and may cause disappointment for others, but all decisions in the criminal justice system must be determined by the physical and scientific evidence and the credible testimony corroborated by that evidence, not in response to public outcry or for political expediency.
Decisions on a matter as serious as charging an individual with a crime simply cannot be decided on anything less than a complete critical examination of all available evidence. Anything less is not justice. It's my sworn duty, and that of the grand jury, is to seek justice and not simply obtain an indictment or conviction.
I do want to say that during this extremely tense and painful time that we have, the citizens of this community should be and I know are very mindful of the fact that the whole world is watching and watching how we respond and how we react. And I would urge each and every one of them with the loss that was suffered by the Brown family that no young man should ever die.
This is the loss of a life and it's a tragic loss regardless of the circumstances. But it's opened old wounds, and it's given us an opportunity now to address those wounds as opposed to in the past where they just fade away. For how many years have we been talking about the issues that lead the incidents like this, and yet after a period of time it just sort of fades away.
So, my -- I urge everybody who is engaged in the conversation, who is engaged in the demonstrations to keep that going, to stay with that, not to let that go. And to do it in a constructive way, a way that we can profit from this, a way that we can benefit from this by changing the structure, by changing some of the issue, by solving some of the issues that lead to these sorts of things.
I join with Michael Brown's family and with the clergy and with anyone else and everyone else, the NAACP and the, excuse me, the Urban League and every government official and every private citizen that you heard in urging everyone to continue the demonstrations, continue the -- continue the discussion, address the problems but do so in a constructive way and not in a destructive way, which is -- I have time for a few questions now.
I'll just kind of start here. Yes sir. The gentleman in the black sweater.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ... whether the grand jury made this decision unanimously, and can you tell us whether you presented any charges, recommended any charges be brought to this grand jury? MCCULLOCH: So the first question is whether the vote, the grand jury by statute is not allowed nor am I or anyone else allowed to ask or to discuss the vote or the deliberations themselves. The grand jury is a very secret process, and it should be in order to protect that secrecy, to protect the witnesses so that people can come out and talk about and speak freely in there.
Jury deliberations in the grand jury or trial jury, they're not recorded. In a trial, of course, they're unanimous, but by statute, a grand jury is not allowed nor is anyone allowed to ask what the verdict -- or I'm sorry, what the vote was nor are they allowed to or anyone allowed to ask what the discussion was, the opinions expressed by the other grand jurors.
We present -- I didn't present, no. My two assistants did all of the presentation in the grand jury. We prepared as their legal advisers, of course, as we do in every case, potential charges for that. And presented -- in this case we presented five charges, five indictments to them. Yes, sir.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I heard you describe some very problematic witness statements. Do any rise to the level of you going after perjury charges?
MCCULLOCH: No, I thing there are a number of witnesses in all honesty that truly believed what they said. And the ones who were consistent throughout even in the face of their testimony being in conflict with the physical evidence that was there. I think they truly believe that that's what they saw. But they didn't.
So, no, some of the others -- yes, were making it up, but they all pretty much acknowledged that, you know, they saw parts and then made up other things.
Yes, ma'am. OK.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Bob, there have been many that have been critical of this process calling it a secret trial. Do you regret taking this to the grand jury? Do you wish there had been a coroner's jury, some other forum for presenting this evidence?
MCCULLOCH: No, not at all. I certainly don't regret taking this. I think it was a good decision to take this to the grand jury. You know, we presented to this -- to this grand jury as I detailed in here all the evidence that there possibly could be, all of which will be available, all of which will be available and available as we finish this tonight.
So, everyone will be able to examine that same evidence and come to their own conclusion. That's the only thing I urge. And I know people aren't going to go home and read everything that was on there and make a decision based on that.
But you need to keep in mind that these grand jurors poured their hearts and souls into this process. You know, their term was scheduled to end in early September. And they gave up their lives, they put their lives on hold, they put their families on hold, they put everything on hold so that they could come in and do their civic duty, and it was a very emotional process for them.
I met with them before any evidence started to tell them what the process was going to be. And I met with them today after their decision. I can tell you just how emotional and how draining it was for each and every one of them. So, to suggest anywhere or anyone suggesting that, that somehow, you know, it's just not a full and fair process is just unfair to these people. They poured their hearts and souls into this.
Yes, ma'am. I'll go right next to you after that.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I had it right over, I promise. Can you tell us more about the grand jury? We've heard just some very basic demographics, mainly just raising facts. Can you tell us anymore of the basic ages and may (ph) perhaps which those folks voted?
MCCULLOCH: No, I mean I really can't. That was the information that the judge released and allowed to be released on the demographics or the makeup of the grand jury. What I can tell you and not speaking too far out of line is that when the judge, any judge picks a grand jury, they're looking for a cross-section of St. Louis County.
And I will say that almost any demographic category you can come up with is going to be represented on that grand jury.
Various ages, income, where they live, how they live, retired, not retired, still working, blue collar, professional, almost anything you can think of will be on that grand jury. And they tend to be that way across the spectrum. We have three a year.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Sir, were there any African-American witnesses who testified that Michael Brown was coming towards the officer when Brown was shot?
MCCULLOCH: Yes. All the ones that I mentioned specifically about -- the ones I mentioned specifically were all African-Americans. That the one who indicated that he was -- came at him at a full charge and that as Officer Wilson fired shots at him, Mr. Brown stopped and Officer Wilson stopped shooting and as Mr. Brown started charging at him again, those are his words, his testimony, Mr. Wilson started shooting again.
So, the others who had very consistent stories not just with each other -- or not just their stories or their testimony throughout but they were consistent with the others, several others, they're all African-American.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I wonder if you can tell us a little about Officer Wilson's testimony and perhaps his status tonight. MCCULLOCH: I have no idea what his status is. But his testimony was, again, it's in the packet that will be released, but his testimony and, you know, these are questions a lot that were asked by the grand jurors questioning him and challenging him on why he didn't use lesser force, why he didn't run away. And rather than get into the specifics -- I will say that, he did testify, of course, that he was sitting in the car and was punched by Mr. Brown. I think all of that information from his version out there is out there.
I specifically didn't do that because, like in any case, the target or the suspect is -- has the most interest in the case. And so, we don't put a whole lot of stock -- we love to hear from them but don't put a whole lot of stock or can't rely solely upon that testimony.
So, yes, sir? The blue shirt.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You mentioned that there's video of the final 10 shot. Would that be released with the rest of the evidence you're releasing tonight?
MCCULLOCH: I assume that microphone is going somewhere, but it's not here.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The video of the five ten shots, would that be released with the rest of the evidence?
MCCULLOCH: There's not video. There's audio. He was on a video chat in the background. But yes, that should be in the packet, if it's not, we will get the audio out.
Yes, sir. Kevin?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I want to ask you a question imaging what the people who are protesting tonight might say. "They'd say, look, this jury had nine whites on it and three blacks." They'd say you have a reputation, right or wrong, of being pro-police. What do you say to somebody who might be out there who thinks it wasn't justice? How do you boil it down? Why was this justice, this outcome?
MCCULLOCH: You know it's hard to boil down everything. As I said, it has to be based upon all the information that's available. You can certainly take out a witness here, a witness there, and come to a different conclusion, but I think everyone has to look -- they'll have the ability to look at every bit of evidence and information that was put on and all the testimony and can do that.
And some, I understand, I understand some people have made up their minds both ways and are not going to change. So, there isn't a whole lot I can do. What I would urge them to do is express those feelings, express them in a constructive way and try the make some changes so that nothing like this ever happens again.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You just explained that we need to work on issues so that this kind of thing won't ever happen again. Can you explain what are some of those fixes that need to happen, and are any of them including whether or not police should shoot somebody whose hands are maybe at their stomach, maybe at their sides or maybe up in the air and they are unarmed?
MCCULLOCH: You know, it's difficult to answer -- in fact, it's impossible to answer questions like that because there are so many variables that play into every case. And so, there's just no way the answer a question like that. And so, you have to look at every bit of information in every case that comes in. The idea, I hope, is to avoid ever being in that situation.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. McCulloch, you're somebody who has had his record questioned by many members of the community with cases that had happened in the past. So how do you feel making this -- announcing this decision?
And what message do you think it sends to a community that says that they have had numerous members of their community, young, predominantly black males, killed by police with impunity? What kind of message do you think this decision says to them?
MCCULLOCH: Well, a much better message than what you're sending, that young men being killed with impunity. They're not being killed with impunity. We look at every case that comes through, whether they're young black men or young white men.
We've had young white men who tragically have been killed by police officers in situations. And we look at each and every one of those and hopefully learn from each and every one of those how to avoid being in that situation in the future, whether it's a justified shooting.
So I think that's what has to go. And I think the people in the community, they need to make their voices heard and they need to address those -- so that we get those issues so we're never in this position again.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think people looking at this from around the country are going to be struck by the fact that there is not a single law in the state of Missouri that protects and values the life of this young man who unquestionably was shot and killed dead -- there's no dispute about that -- by the police officer.
What do you say to people who wonder, is there something wrong with the laws here that allows this to happen, that after this happens, says we just move on essentially, and that this is justice? Is this really justice, or is there something wrong with the laws in the state that would say that this is OK.
MCCULLOCH: Well, you know, it's another question that really -- I don't have an answer to that question. "What's wrong with the law? There are no laws to protect this." Every law out there is to protect the safety of every individual, regardless of their age and regardless of their race.
And so, if those laws are not working, then we need to work to change them. And that's about all that we get -- that's not all the way, but that's what we should be doing, and that's where this needs to go from here. So -- yes, sir.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. McCulloch, you've been accused by some of passing the buck by simply standing back and putting all this evidence in front of the grand jury rather than taking a stand? Isn't that what you were elected to do? Shouldn't you have taken a stand in this case?
MCCULLOCH: You have to understand, in part of that system, there isn't anyone in the system as part of the checks and balances we have in this system, is that no one office no, no one individual has the ultimate or absolute authority. If charges were filed in this case, as they're filed in other cases, the case would still go to a preliminary hearing or to the grand jury.
There still has to be a probable cause determination. No one can just file a charge and go directly to a jury trial. That just cannot happen.
And we have an obligation to present the evidence. I don't know how anyone can say it was -- we're passing the buck by gathering all this information and evidence and meeting with the grand jury. It's something we do on a weekly basis. We do it day in and day out, or week in and week out. So it's certainly not passing the buck.
Yes, ma'am, back in the corner there.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hi. Can you give the specific vote breakdown and what's the possibility of federal charges? Are those still a possibility and outstanding?
MCCULLOCH: I can't give you a vote breakdown because I don't know that. And neither I -- and I can't ask, nor can the grand jurors reveal that.
The federal investigation is still ongoing. They have all the information, all the evidence that we have. They had it as we got it. When we finished a day's worth of grand jury testimony, within a day or two, that was in the hands of the Department of Justice, when they did an interview, within hours that was in the hands of the Department of Justice.
So, they will conduct their interview, their interview, their investigation as we did. They're looking at different types of laws, obviously, and different violations. So, but when they'll -- will complete that, I have no -- I have no insight into that.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did any witnesses refuse to testify, and if so, how was that handled in.
MCCULLOCH: I didn't hear the last part.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If witnesses refused to testify, how was that handled?
MCCULLOCH: There were -- there were a few witnesses who were not brought in. There were witnesses who, you know, one didn't make a statement. There were a couple who just disappeared. We spent a lot of time searching for them, and with the assistance of the FBI, but were unable to locate a couple of them.
So, none of the information -- though, in one case I think we had a statement from the witness, it wasn't presented to the grand jury. Actually, I think there were a couple of them.
Yes, ma'am. We've only got time for a couple more here.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You cite Officer Wilson's description of Brown's movement toward him as a charge. Was there any other evidence that might have led the grand jury to conclude Wilson had reasonable cause for the use of deadly force?
MCCULLOCH: Again, I think you have to have -- I'm not privy to the deliberations until -- I can't say what they saw as highly significant or not. But they had all the information, and they were charged with -- and they were told that here's what the law requires, that you consider all of the evidence and the information.
And so, it's not just -- as in most cases, it is not just one bit of evidence that says, "All right, that's it, that's all we need to hear." It's everything that is presented, which is why we wanted to make this as complete and thorough as possible.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What justification are you going to be using to release the grand jury evidence? I know there's been some dispute as to whether a court order is going to be needed to present what it is you're saying you're able to present tonight.
MCCULLOCH: You know, it's -- I won't bore you with all the legal details and technicalities of it, but essentially, it is now a closed investigation, which makes it an open file. It's a lot more complicated and complex than that. But essentially, that's how the Sunshine Law operates. When it's a closed investigation or when it's a closed case, it's an open file.
And so that's the basis. We're following the Sunshine Law. There's no specific request for it, I assume there would be a request. But I thought it was important in the first place to release the information.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Bob, obviously many are not happy with this decision tonight, especially the family of Michael Brown. If they're watching, what would you want to say to them this evening? MCCULLOCH: Well, you know, as I said at the very outset, my heart goes out to them. Regardless of the circumstances they lost a young man. They lost a young life. And I've said many times before that the pain that goes along with that loss is just something that most people can't understand.
And so -- but at the same time everything was presented, you know, and it's -- things don't -- but everything was presented. Everything was given to the grand jury. It was all put in front of them. And there's 12 people made a decision that based upon all that evidence that as tragic as this is, it was not a crime or it was not one where charges should have been filed.
You know, it doesn't lessen -- it doesn't lessen this tragedy by the fact that it was a justifiable use of force or self-defense. There's still a loss of life here. And the family is going to have that loss forever. That will be with them for a long time. No police officer -- no young man should ever be killed by a police officer. And no police officer should ever be put in that position.
And so, that's why I keep urging people to keep this talk going. So many times, we've seen in the past where the discussion starts, and then it fades away and then we have the same issues, and we're back here again. I don't ever want to be back here. So we have to keep that discussion going, and everybody has to stay engaged in it. This is a horrible tragedy, and we don't want to see any repeats. Thank you.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Will you rest well tonight, sir?
COOPER: You've bee been listening to two statement by Robert McCulloch. And now we're -- the prosecutor Robert McCulloch making a statement the bottom line as you have no doubt by now for there's -- will be no indictment for Officer Darren Wilson.
We are waiting a statement. President Obama is about to make a statement, we're told from Brady Press Room. There, we have seen obviously large numbers of demonstrators on the move to a various areas in Clayton and in Ferguson. Standing by with us as we wait President Obama is Jeff Toobin, Mark O'Mara, Mark Arrigo (ph), Sunny Hostin as well.
Sunny, you're thoughts on -- what you've heard from the prosecutor tonight.
SUNNY HOSTIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: You know, I'm not surprise quite frankly that there was no indictment in this case. This process was so bizarre, so strange because it didn't appear to me to be a prosecutor that as looking and speaking in the indictment. And so, I can't say that I'm surprised.
I am still very surprise by the process. Remember the standard, the legal standard in front of the grand jury, Anderson its probable cost, it such as a low standard, and given all of the conflicting evidence that the prosecutor, Mr. McCulloch went over. It is just clear to me that probable cost did exists. And again, I think we need to examine the process.
Cooper: Jeff Toobin, where did the -- what is your takeaway from what you heard. And I should also point out that McCulloch also said that the testimony, witness statements, the evidence will be released as soon as he finish his statements tonight.
TOOBIN: Well, I thought of statement in two parts.