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Grand Jury Reached a Decision on Whether to Indict Officer Darren Wilson

Aired November 24, 2014 - 20:00   ET


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening. Thanks for joining us.

It is 7:00 p.m. here in Ferguson, Missouri, less than an hour away from what could be a very big moment. We're at a police staging area, just up the road from what became ground zero for local outrage and nationwide attention in the killing of Michael Brown.

Crowds have assembled tonight in several locations, the largest right now looks to be outside the Ferguson police department. All the gatherings have so far been peaceful. Most everyone here is hoping it stays that way about an hour from now.

In just about an hour we do expect to learn the grand jury's decision on criminal charges, if any, against Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson who fired those deadly shots during that confrontation with Brown.

Now, the 12 members, nine white, three African-American with nine voted needed to indict have been weighing charges ranging from involuntary manslaughter to murder. They've been hearing evidence for three months now including testimony from officer Wilson and authorities have been preparing almost as long for reaction.

Earlier this evening, Missouri's governor, Jay Nixon, who has already declared state of emergency called out the National Guard, appealed for calm, whatever the grand jury decides.


GOV. JAY NIXON, MISSOURI: St. Louis county prosecutor will announce the grand jury's decision. While none of us know what that will be, our shared hope and expectation is that regardless of the decision, people on all sides show tolerance, mutual respect and restraint. Together, we are all focused on making sure the necessary resources are at hand to protect lives, protect property and protect free speech.


COOPER: Again, we expect to hear within the hour, what the grand jury decided. And the announcement will happen at the county courthouse in Clayton. We've got correspondents there, people all across the area as well as our legal and forensic teams standing by.

We begin, though, with Brown family attorney Benjamin Crump who joins us now by phone.

Mr. Crump, it's good to have you here. I know this day has been a long one for you, for the family. What's the latest that you can tell us about what your team, what the Brown family have been told by the prosecutor's office? Do the Browns have any inkling of what this announcement is going to be?

BENJAMIN CRUMP, BROWN FAMILY ATTORNEY (via phone): We do not, Anderson. They have told us that they're going to tell us before they make the announcement publicly. And so we're all waiting, the family, to find out what the decision is.

COOPER: Is it true -- I mean, all along you have been critical of communication coming from the prosecutor's office. Is it true that you did not get word directly from the prosecutor's office that a decision had, in fact, been reached, that the family actually learned about this by watching television?

CRUMP: It's very true. We found out from your correspondent Sunny Hostin. And so it was very painful for us to find it that way. It was very painful on behalf of his mother and father that they did not get the notice that they were going to find out before the media found out.

COOPER: Do you still believe you will get some sort of advance announcement about what the grand jury has actually decided?

CRUMP: Well, Anderson, we have to take them at their word, you know. The family has great mistrust with this prosecutor's office. And so that's the whole reason every time we came on your show, we made it clear that they wanted a special prosecutor an and (INAUDIBLE) special prosecutor.

COOPER: The family has also called for several minutes of silence, representing the hours that their son Michael Brown was left on the ground. Is that something that you want to have happen as soon as the verdict is announced?

CRUMP: That is their understanding. The family has been working with several churches and civil rights organizations, Anderson, to try to make a message on behalf of Michael Brown for the world to do with them. So that's something they're asking for. But the biggest thing they're asking for and everybody who supports Michael Brown. We don't want (INAUDIBLE). We want to make change. We don't want to have this happen again next month and we see another child killed and nobody held accountable as has happened so many times before, as you know.

COOPER: If there is an indictment by this grand jury, obviously, we know what happens. It will then go to a trial, which is something you have been calling for, the family's been calling for all along. Never had to go to a grand jury even in first place. If there's not an indictment, what is your next step?

CRUMP: Well, obviously, the federal government is looking at federal charges, but you know from being a journalist for many years, that's a very high standard and not very likely. So the family understands if there's no indictment, it's likely the killer of their child won't be held accountable. And that's heartbreaking to them.

The civil remedy in civil court others will explore all the legal avenues to give them some sense of just. But make no mistake about it. What they want is the killer of their child to be held accountable, Anderson.

COOPER: Has this prosecutor, McCulloch, has he ever explained to you or the family why he handled it in this way? Not only going to a grand jury, but the extremely unusual way they has presented huge amounts of evidence, some of which might be admissible in court and some of which would not be admissible in court and not really given guidance to the jurors themselves, which is normally what a prosecutor would do. Has he explained to you why he's done it this way?

CRUMP: He has not explained, Anderson. And it is completely unfair to this family for him to change the rules when it's their child dead on the ground. And if you take him at his word that we're doing this because we believe this is fair and we just want to be fair, is that to say for 28 years every other grand jury he presented evidence to he was unfair? Why change the rules when it's our children dead on the ground?

And the fact that a prosecutor is not going to recommend charges, you know, it's just baffling that the jury is supposed to figure it out themselves. And so, we believe all along that we should respect the prosecutor because there's a symbiotic relationship with this prosecutor and this local police department and that they never wanted to indict this police officer for killing their child.

COOPER: Benjamin Crump, I appreciate talking to you. We'll talk to you hopefully after the verdict is announced.

We should mention the pictures you're seeing are the courthouse in Clayton and on the right, police headquarters in Ferguson. As I said, we have correspondents all throughout the region.

I want to bring in our legal team, legal analyst Sunny Hostin who is joining me here at the command center, Mark O'Mara, Jeffrey Toobin. Jeff and Sunny are obviously former federal prosecutor. Mark O'Mara is a criminal defense attorney who famously defended George Zimmerman.

Sunny, I mean, you have said this all along, but I think that bears repeating tonight just how unusual -- we talked about a little with Benjamin Crump. How unusual it is for a prosecutor to have presented the grand jury with the evidence in the way he did without a recommendation. Normally a prosecutor would weigh in, that did not happen.

SUNNY HOSTIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: If that is true, that really is unusual. Because the bottom line is, Anderson, when you're presenting a case that you want to indict, you present your best hits. You put your best evidence in. It's a very streamlined process. And then you recommend to the grand jury which charges you think are appropriate to be voted on.

COOPER: I should say we believe he did not recommend. HOSTIN: Right.

COOPER: We don't know.

HOSTIN: We don't know. But if that is true, that is really bizarre, because it's your show when you're the prosecutor. You are guiding this jury. Remember, there's no defense attorney in there, there's no judge, there's no director. You are it.

And so the fact that you would present not a streamlined case but every piece of evidence in front of this jury and then not even guide them with the law and the possible charges, it's just -- it's bizarre. It shows me that that is a prosecutor that is not only sort of kicking the bucket down the road, that's a prosecutor that doesn't want an indictment.

COOPER: Mark O'Mara, is that the way you see it?

MARK O'MARA, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: I just don't. I disagree. And you know, we're sort of you using a base of lack of knowledge to argue from when we say he's doing this or he's not doing that. We don't know if he argued for a charge or not. We don't know what his position is. The only thing we do know is this is, in fact, a unique way to handle a grand jury. But if he's doing it transparently, if he's doing it where we'll be able to look at him and see what he's done by looking at the transcripts, then I say let's just wait until we see that before jumping to conclusions about what he's done right, wrong or differently. And, for that matter, what the grand jury has done right, wrong or indifferently until we actually see the evidence that they looked at.

COOPER: And Mark, to that point, we learned something today just a short time ago that's very significant. Previously we had thought there was going to be up to a judge to decide whether or not all the information was going to be released, the information that was presented to the grand jury. It seems now that McCulloch has decided that it's within his right to just -- to actually take it upon himself to release that information without a judge's approval, correct?

O'MARA: The nuance in the way he's interpreting the law now, is that, once, if in fact there's no true bill, again, which is the only time the evidence would be released, if there's a no true bill, then it's a closed case. He doesn't need the judge's decision or agreement to release it. He's going to do it as his own as a closed case. So we may get them as soon as a no true bill comes, if that's the grand jury's decision.

COOPER: Jeff, to the point of the unusual nature of these proceedings, talk about that a little bit. I mean, Sunny's talked about it. Because it could have been very -- I mean, the prosecutor could have just decided, look, there's a number of eyewitnesses who have come forward and said, you know, presented their accounts publicly which seem to be critical of Darren Wilson. Prosecutor could have very easily said we are just going to moved this to trial. We're not going to go to a grand jury. JEFFREY TOOBIN That's right. And that shows that at the start, the

prosecutor, Mr. McCulloch, was uncertain about whether the case should proceed at all. Now, there's nothing wrong with a prosecutor being uncertain, especially in a complicated case with a number of eyewitnesses and, frankly, evidence in certain cases that points in both directions.

What's so unusual about this is, instead of making a selective presentation to the grand jury, he simply just threw it all in there. And that's something that is really, without precedent in my experience both as a prosecutor and as a journalist. And it certainly suggests a throwing up of hands that is not the way prosecutors usually run grand juries.

If I can just make one point about grand juries, because I don't think people are really very familiar with them. They're used to jury boxes and judges. And grand juries look like classrooms. They don't look like courtrooms. You have the prosecutor and the witness up at the front, and then the jurors sitting effectively classroom style. And it just shows how this is the prosecutor's show. And here you have one, it appears, who chose not to really make a case, and that's a very unusual way to proceed.

COOPER: But now, Jeff, some people who support the prosecutor would say, well, you know, he's presenting all the evidence he has. Doesn't that show a willingness to put it all out there? You're saying by not tailoring and selecting it and giving some sort of a recommendation, assuming he didn't, that is basically kind of a document dump or data dump.

TOOBIN: Well, it is somewhat like a document dump. And I think, you know, you raise an important point. It looks like, if there's no indictment, we're going to be able to see what that evidence is and make a judgment about whether the grand jury made the right decision. It may be that the evidence supports officer Wilson. It may be that eyewitnesses say, you know what? I thought I saw exactly what Wilson said. So in that case, it would be appropriate to have no indictment.

It's just unusual to throw it all out there. That doesn't mean that the grand jury will come to the wrong conclusion. Whatever that is a conclusion not supported by the evidence. It's just an unusual way, sort of an abdication on the part of the prosecutor.

COOPER: And I should point out "the Washington Post" has reported based on leaks that there have been a number of eyewitnesses that have not been publicly identified and whose testimony is not publicly known. But according to "the Washington Post" report, their testimony seems to favor Darren Wilson while some of the people -- eyewitnesses who have been very public their testimony does not.

Very quickly, though, everyone. I've just gotten word, some late word on what officer Wilson might know about what the grand jury has decided. "The New York Times" is reporting that as of about two hours ago he had not received a call from the prosecutor's office informing him of an indictment and asking him to turn himself in. I assuming that means his attorneys as well, officer Wilson was planning to voluntarily surrender if he was indicted.

So Mark, what does that tell you, that as of two hours ago, after it was well known the grand jury had reached a decision and authority must know the result of that, the fact that officer Wilson and apparently his team around him have not been asked to come forward?

O'MARA: You know, if that's accurate, and if we're going to look at it and try to see the tea leaves now with that extra piece of leaf in it, then certainly, we know that if there was an indictment that there probably would have been a conversation between the two parties, the prosecutor and the defense team to say bring officer Wilson in before the indictment is issued for his own safety. So the opposite or the contra argument is if they did not ask to bring in, the presumption is no true bill. But again, we're getting so close, we should just wait until the decision and wait until the documents.

TOOBIN: I'm with Mark on that one.

COOPER: Sunny, let's talk, though, about the timing of all this. Does it make sense to you from a public safety standpoint that they would wait until now 9:00 p.m. east coast time, 8:00 p.m. here in central time to make this announcement when they've had hours. I mean, for someone who said look, why wait until nighttime? Yes, schools are closed. Yes, most businesses are closed. Most people are at home. Does it make sense to you?

HOSTIN: It doesn't make sense. Because most schools have been closed anyway in anticipation of this. Most of the businesses around here have been closed. And I think it's almost reckless because when it gets dark, it's much more difficult to crowd control, quite frankly. It gives people time to assemble. They've given people a lot of time to assemble. And, quite frankly, if it is true that there's no indictment, it almost seems reckless to me.

COOPER: Jeff Toobin, what do you think?

TOOBIN: I think it's a crazy idea to do it at this hour. And it is just makes -- I mean, you know, yes, it is true that a lot of people are at home and yes, it's true that businesses are closed and schools are -- and schools are not in session, but you know, there are ways of managing that other than doing it in the dark.

I mean, you know, police don't like to operate in the dark by and large. Crowds, you know, can't be controlled as easily in the dark. There's a reason why when the police give permission to have rallies, it's always during the day. It just --

Now, I don't think there's going to be anything bad happening there. I think it will be basically a peaceful event, but it just seems a needless risk to me.

COOPER: And we should point out, that's outside the justice center where this decision is going to be announced. Large number of people are gathered. We also have cameras up by the Ferguson police department. Cameras really all around. And it should also just repeat, you know, there have been protests

here. And Sunny, you know this as well as anybody. There have been protests here for more than a hundred days every single night overwhelmingly peaceful. There has not been large scale violence. There have been, you know, there have been miscommunications between protesters and authorities, there's anger, there's obviously, you know, emotions are high and it is tense, but there has been peaceful protests here for many, many weeks.

HOSTIN: For many, many weeks. I mean, some are saying about a hundred day. And that's why it's very misleading for everyone to say they're expecting violence. Because we know that we've been having these sort of peaceful organized protests for quite some time. There are guidelines that have been agreed on between universal command with the police department and protest groups. And so, the suggestion somehow that this will escalate and actually the police response, you know, in terms of bringing in the National Guard and having at the ready this type of military equipment.

COOPER: -- who claim they've learned lessons on what happened here before in their training and response.

HOSTIN: I hope so.

COOPER: But we will see. We will see what lesson have been learned.

Everyone stick around. Again, protesters are have been gathering in spots around the area, including outside the Ferguson police department.

As I mentioned, our Sara Sidner is there as well right now. She joins us now.

Sara, what's the scene there?

SARA SIDNER, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I can tell you right now what you're looking at is the police department to my left. The protesters here, they've stopped people in the road now. There is a large crowd now gathering there. You can see them in the road. There's a car that is there that has been in support of the protesters. A lot of people are being told to honk if they support an indictment. But right now the road is closed.

And here's what the police are doing. There's a helicopter above and generally you can see the police standing out here. They do not have their riot gear on. This has been a pretty normal scene in the days that have led up to this. You can see they have their plastic ties there for handcuffs, but now what we're seeing is the crowds getting larger and larger. And I'm going to show you again what's happening.

What's happening is the crowd is starting to take over the entire street. And there's some serious activity going on over here of people gathering, yelling, hollering. There is a crowd gathering because they're chasing someone who they say is a member of the KKK, and you see all the cameras going. Things are getting a little bit more tense as people try and figure out exactly who's out here. But certainly, Anderson, this scene has gotten far more people out here than were out here just about an hour ago -- Anderson.

COOPER: Sara, you've been covering this now for months on the ground here. You've been at many of these protests in that exact same spot. How does tonight, the size of the crowd, the mood of the crowd compare the all the other nights you've been out there?

SIDNER: That's a great question. Because we have been out here for two months. And we have been out at this very spot for two months as the protesters have been protesting for more than a hundred days every single night. Most nights there are 10 to 15 people, sometimes there are 50 people. Now you're seeing a much, much larger crowd.

And to be fair, there's a lot of media here as well. For a while today there was more media than there were people out here protesting. But now folks have come out. They are waiting to hear from the grand jury. They want to hear from the prosecuting attorney's office. They want to know exactly what the decision is. And this is definitely a larger crowd than normal, Anderson.

COOPER: All right, Sara Sidner, we'll continue to check in with you.

Now a reminder, we're expecting a grand jury announcement at the top the hour. It could come before that. We frankly don't know. Kind of all bets are off tonight. With that, you're looking at the podium where the announcement is going to be made. We'll obviously bring that to you live.

Coming up next, what this community has been going through, both as the center of the national debate and simply as a community full of families and individuals who are just trying to live their lives. More on that ahead.


COOPER: Welcome back. You're looking now at Ferguson outside the police department. Crowds have started growing larger in the last hour or so. Crowds gathering there. As well as at the courthouse in Clayton where the grand jury decision will be read about a half hour from now and where Evan Perez is standing by for us.

So this press conference, do we know how exactly it's going to work, what to expect, will the prosecutor announce anything besides whether or not officer Wilson has been indicted?

EVAN PEREZ, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, yes, Anderson. We know that the prosecutor is planning to take questions. And you know, that's going to really set the tone for the rest of this evening.

You know, obviously, he can't change the facts. He can't change whatever decision has been made by this grand jury, but how he delivers this and what information he provides will probably set the tone for the rest of this evening, how the reaction goes on the streets there in Ferguson and elsewhere around the country. And we know people are gathering around the country to wait for this.

And so, you know, we do know that, you know, obviously, this grand jury has been meeting for a couple months and they've taken a long look at this. They were supposed to be finished on Friday, but the prosecutor thought they were going to be done very quickly. They asked to come back. They didn't want to see more evidence. They just simply wanted to, I guess, spend the weekend thinking about this and then comeback today.

They made the decision. They were sent home today. There are couple of things we know. I talked to representatives of the Brown family. They had expected to hear by now. They had not heard -- just a few minutes ago I talked to them what the decision was. So that perhaps indicative. They were told not to come here. Anderson, they told -- they were told to stay at home and that they would be hearing from the prosecutor before this press conference goes on.

COOPER: Evan, do we know how wide the circle is of people who know? I mean, has law -- have law enforcement authorities been told, the governor? I mean, do we know who besides the prosecutor at this point knows and obviously, there are the people on the grand jury?

PEREZ: Yes, it's been very closely held. I think a lot of frustration, frankly, with the prosecutor. You can see in it the way the discussion has been going with the governor and the state officials and even the federal officials because, frankly, they'd like a little more preparation, they would like a little bit more information, and he's not really been willing to provide any of that. And I think that's been one of the issues is being able to prepare for this -- you know, frankly, what this decision was going to be made and being made so late this evening. All of that was, you know, coming to a head today, Anderson.

COOPER: Well, that's the other question. Do you know why they chose to announce it so late? I mean, earlier in the day, we've been told, well, it's going to be 8:00 p.m. on the east coast, now it's 9:00 p.m. on the east coast, 8:00 p.m. local time. I mean, this decision was made hours and hours ago.

PEREZ: Right. And you know, I think, we do know that there were a few things behind the scenes that they were trying to get done. They wanted to talk to the judge. I think the prosecutor has made it clear he'd like to release all the evidence that was provided to this grand jury before -- you know, to sort of explain to the public what went into this. You know, to make sure that they understand that this investigation was done properly. That's the one thing he was pushing for. And we don't know exactly, you know, whether the judge was delaying this, whether this is a conversation as going on behind the scenes.

We do know the federal government has an opinion on this, because, you know, they still have a federal ongoing investigation, Anderson. And I do know that they would prefer that all this come out immediately simply because, you know, their investigation is still ongoing.

COOPER: Evan Perez, appreciate. Evan, we'll continue to check in with throughout the two hours we're on the air tonight.

Joining me now is St. Louis alderman Antonio French who joins me here. Does it make sense to you that it's being done so late at night?

ANTONIO FRENCH, ST. LOUIS ALDERMAN: No, I don't think it does. It does not take public safety into account.

COOPER: It does not take public safety into account.

FRENCH: It does not take public safety into account.

COOPER: You think earlier in the day would have made more sense from a public safety standpoint?

FRENCH: I think so. And I think coordinating with other folks, officials and departments and agencies that are trying to keep people safe would be much more wise. And so, you know, this has been another case, I think, of a misstep by this county prosecutor.

So you know, we're going to be out here tonight, just hoping that whichever way the decision goes that we can keep people safe and that we make sure the protests are done in a way that's respectful of property and also that the police behave in a way that takes into account people's right to peacefully protest.

COOPER: Has anything changed here for the better in the last -- since this summer, since so many people were watching then? I mean, in terms of the police force interacting in a different way with the community. In terms -- I mean, I remember we were here before, the mayor said there is no racial divide in Ferguson which, you know, stunned a lot of people, some of the people I was talking to. Have there, started to be change?

FRENCH: So, in some ways I think we improved a little bit. So, you know, since the Michael Brown killing, we actually had two other police involved shooting in St. Louis city. And the protests moving to the city. I think the city police handled large crowds better than the county police. And I think the city police involvement is helping. And I hope that has influenced how the county will behave. But at the same time I think, frankly, the relations between African- American and the white community in St. Louis region hasn't improved. We haven't gotten to the healing yet, because we are still in this crisis and in many ways people have kind of gotten entrenched in their positions. So, you know, what happens today and what happens after today is really going to influence you know, how we move forward as a community. I hope we do that peacefully and I hope we do that in a way that helps people move together.

COOPER: The ability of this community and people in this community to continue to protest every single day is, you know, for those who support peaceful protest, that's a very impressive thing to be able to mobilize people on a continuous basis.


COOPER: It's hard to keep something like that going. What does that tell you about this community and about the seriousness with which they see this case and other cases? FRENCH: Well, I think this isn't going to go away any time soon. And

I think what it shows is that especially among the young population, they're tired with the way things have been and they're determined to make sure we change. And so, we have to hear that. We have to hear that it's time that we change business as usual here in St. Louis and hopefully folks that have not been hearing will start to hear it. And I think a nonviolent message encourages that and allows people to be won over. I think violence and fear distracts us. And so I hope we, you know, pray for our city, and I hope that we can move forward together in a better way.

COOPER: Are you worried about tonight?

FRENCH: I'm not so much worried about the protesters that have been out here. They've become very organized.

COOPER: As we've been saying, in more than a hundred days of peaceful protest.

FRENCH: But I do worry that the state of emergency called for by the governor has escalated the situation and has invited folks from other places to come under the belief that this is where the revolution is going to happen or something like that. And the message to them is that this is our home, we leave here, whatever mess you cause, we have to finish. And so, what I hope is that if there are a few individuals that commit criminal acts, that the police would deal with them as individuals and not punish the entire crowd. That just I think escalates it and makes everyone angry and upset.

COOPER: Alderman, we appreciate you take your time to joining us. Thank you very much.

FRENCH: Thank you.

COOPER: All right.

I want to show you live pictures out in Clayton, outside the -- oh, excuse me, that's outside the police station in Ferguson, obviously. Crowds have been gathering there increasingly over the last hour or two. We've seen an uptake in the crowds, and we talked to our Sara Sidner who was outside there just a short time ago. We're obviously going to continue to watch that as we approach the time when the announcement of whether or not Officer Darren Wilson will be indicted, that we anticipate being really any moment. Joining me now is David Klinger, former LAPD officer and criminal justice professor at the University of Missouri, St. Louis and also with us, again, CNN legal analyst and former federal prosecutor, Sunny Hostin. David, it's good to have you on the program again. Just how difficult is it to bring an indictment against a police officer? Traditionally?

DAVID KLINGER, CRIMINAL JUSTICE PROF., UNIV. OF MISSOURI ST. LOUIS: Traditionally, it is difficult. And part of that is because most of the time when police officers use deadly force, it is clear that it was necessary. An individual shoots a police officer, officer returns fire. But the other thing is, the law does give police officers a lot of freedom in terms of notion of reasonableness. And so, sometimes police officers make a mistake, but it is viewed as a reasonable one. That is an individual points a weapon at a police officer like the tragedy that happened in Cleveland earlier where this 12-year-old kid pointed what appears to be an air shock pistol at the police officer. There's no crime in the officer - the officer didn't commit a crime by shooting because he had a reasonable belief his life was in jeopardy. The other thing is that grand juries and prosecutors are, in fact, reticent to charge police officers because they do understand the split second decisions that officers are oftentimes faced with.

COOPER: Is there a difference, though, on the - if depending on the racial makeup of the jury? Is that something you see, that white jurors have -- I mean I hate to bring race into this, but that white jurors have a tendency to give the benefit of the doubt to white police officers more?

SUNNY HOSTIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: I'm not so sure about that but I do know that we talk about officer-involved shootings, the statistics are really murky. Because we know that a lot of the officer-involved shootings have to be self-reported. So, the FBI has taken a lot of time trying to gather the information in terms of how many of these officer-related shootings have ended in indictment. And by and large they have not ended in indictment. And I think when you look at the stats when there's a white officer shooting a black man, really, there is very rarely, rarely an indictment.

KLINGER: That is true. But the other point that Sunny I think is aware of, they're rare for all types of racial combinations. Black officers shooting white, black officers shooting black and so on and so forth. And as she points out, the data is so murky, it would be nice to have data, so we would be able to say yes, 27 percent, more likely, that this type of combination would leave to shooting, sort of like what we have about death penalty information about the race of the victim, the race of the perpetrator. So on and so forth. We don't have that. We desperately need that. In fact, myself and some of my colleagues are trying to get a national database up and running on officer-involved shootings, not just in terms of what officers do, but also what happens to officers during shooting. So, there's an awful lot of information that we desperately need, but we don't have.

COOPER: I'm curious to get your take, David, because Sunny's been very critical and some of our other guests as well of the way this process has played out, the way evidence was presented to the grand jury, what appears to be a lack of guidance by the prosecutor to the grand jury. Does this seem very unusual to you?

KLINGER: It doesn't. And as I indicated before, I have testified before grand juries. And my understanding about how grand juries operate when it comes to officer-involved shootings, it's much more of the fact finding process as opposed to trying to have a prosecutor walking in and saying I wish to charge. And what they tend to do, at least the ones I'm familiar with, is the prosecutors tend to provide information so that the members of the community can make a decision about whether the officer's behavior was within the four corners of whatever the state statute is regarding the use of deadly force. And so I'm not as appalled, I guess, as many of your other guests have been about this, because I want to know about how this process went down so that I can look at it, compare it to other grand jury processes that I'm aware of. When it comes to officers involved shootings.

HOSTIN: And David knows that we've agreed to disagree on this but especially because if you're talking about a uniformity of process, which is really what you want in front of a grand jury. Why would an officer-involved shooting get more evidence placed before it than any other crime, let's say a rape or a civilian on civilian murder? And so I find that disingenuous and it's very odd, and this grand jury in particular is odd. It is even outside of the realm of other grand jury presentations that we've seen in officer-related shootings. Yes, sometimes in officer-related shootings, you do provide more evidence because you do have someone that's been operating within the bounds of their profession, but you do -- you never see this kind of evidence put in, Anderson, quite frankly, every single piece of evidence being put in in front of a grand jury, especially evidence that would not even be admissible at trial. And if it is true that this prosecutor provided no guidance, provided no guidance on the law and provided no guidance on charges that just simply is -- it's bizarre.

KLINGER: All I can tell you is I've been called along with other of my colleagues who are experts about the use of deadly force, for example, to come in and explain to jurors police training, explain to jurors how police officers make decisions. Obviously, I can't tell you about the particulars of what I testified to, but that's basically how it occurs. And so for me, as I've indicated all along, I want to see all the evidence and I want to see what was presented before I make any declaration about whether it was appropriate or inappropriate

COOPER: Do you have a sense of what the timeline would be for -- because now McCulloch seems is -- the sense that I mean if there is no indictment is willing to release the information without actually going to a judge. Willing to release the evidence.

HOSTIN: You know, quite frankly, that just doesn't make sense to me. Grand jury proceedings under the law are secret. The only time that you can release grand jury proceedings, transcripts, witness lists, is with the permission of a judge. I have never heard of a prosecutor being able to make that decision on his or her own and on top of that being able to redact information, redact witness names on his or her own. That is not going to happen. And if it does happen, then we're really in a sorry state of things. I mean I would imagine if the Justice Department would quash that anyway.

COOPER: Would that surprise you if that happened?

KLINGER: I honestly, that's above my pay grade, I'm not a lawyer.

COOPER: OK. Well, listen, I appreciate you being honest, Sunny Hostin as well. There's a lot to cover in the time ahead. I just want to show the scene again. This is the scene outside the Ferguson police headquarters. This has been the site really of many protests over the last hundred or so days. Overwhelmingly as we've been talking about, they have been peaceful. Usually much smaller, as our Sara Sidner was reporting the protests there, sometimes a dozen or so people, sometimes 50 or so people. Obviously the numbers have grown tonight, but I want to bring in our Jeff Toobin who is standing by, Mark O'Mara as well. Jeff, in terms of if information is released by this prosecutor about grand jury testimony, do you know what the timeline for that would be?

JEFF TOOBIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, initially we thought that a judge would have to approve it, but according to the reports we're getting today, the prosecutor thinks he can do it on his own. So I would imagine it could be released as soon as logistically possible. And that means tonight, tomorrow. If he thinks he has - it's within his discretion, it's within his discretion and he can simply release the transcripts and exhibits whenever he wants. I've never seen that done before.

COOPER: Names would have to be or I guess - I mean some people would think names would have to be redacted, names of witnesses, perhaps. What do you make of that?

MARK O'MARA, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, it seems as though McCulloch has been planning for this dump of information right after the announcement of whatever the decision is. Again, the relations are going to be only with a 02 bill, but if he's been planning that all along, then it's already been redacted all along. We know that the system is in place, the website all that information that's necessary to get it out to media, has been in place for several days. It's been tested, it's ready to go. So, now it looks as though he can do it any time after the announcement. Literally it can happen tonight.

TOOBIN: And I don't think - if he feels he has the authority to release the information, I don't think he has to redact the names. That would be perhaps a courtesy he extends to some of the witnesses, but if he has the authority to release grand jury material, he has the authority to release all of it. So we could get a whole list of new names.

COOPER: Jeff, let me go in. I want to bring in our Don Lemon who has got some new information. Don, what have you learned? '

DON LEMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: OK, here's what I've learned, Anderson, from a source close to Darren Wilson that his representatives have, through a process of deduction or elimination, they have decided that there's going to be no indictment. They're saying there's going to be no indictment because at this point, if there was an indictment, that Darren Wilson would have been asked to surrender himself. He's not surrendered himself. And this is something, not been asked to surrender himself. And again, this is from a source close to Darren Wilson. What they are telling me, and I think it's important for our legal minds who are listening to this, who are with you, Anderson, they said, if there was an indictment, there would have been a suppressed indictment and they said the word would go out to everyone that Darren Wilson was a wanted person, that he should turn himself in. And that no announcement could be made unless the subject is in custody. So Darren Wilson, I'm told by that source, is at an undisclosed location now. He's not been asked to turn himself in. They're surmising from that that it is a no true bill and that there will be no indictment. And when asked how is he doing right now, the source says he's doing OK. There's a huge weight lifted off of his shoulders. He says he is now living now with being a person who is reviled and he wants to somehow turn that around into a person who he wants to get that message out that he should not be reviled.

But again, a source close to Darren Wilson is saying that his representatives have concluded that there will be no indictment because he's not been asked at this point to turn himself in. When I pressed further, they said at this point, the feds may step in, they could do something, but if he's not indicted during this process, it will make a federal indictment harder in this case. But again a source close to Darren Wilson saying they believe that there will be no indictment, Anderson.

COOPER: Don, just so I'm clear on this, this is one source close to Darren Wilson. And also, this source is - and his team is surmising this. They've not directly been told yet, as far as you can tell by authorities that there will not be an indictment, correct?

LEMON: No one, no one has told them, no one has told them yet, but they believe that his representatives would have been asked to surrender. There would be a suppressed indictment at this point. And no decision can be announced until the person who was under indictment has turned himself in or is in custody. So, if they're going to make an announcement and they've not asked Darren Wilson to turn himself in, according to the source, the representatives believe there is no indictment.

COOPER: Don, let me bring in Mark O'Mara and Jeff Toobin. Jeff, what do you make of what Don has just reported? You and I and Mark had talked about this previously. "The New York Times" have reported as of two hours ago there had been no word by Darren Wilson's team. Don saying he has just gotten this communique from Darren Wilson's team.

TOOBIN: I understand the reasoning, and I understand their optimism. Frankly, with all respect, I think at this point it's probably worth waiting the 17 minutes or 16 minutes until the announcement because that -- you know, calls can get delayed, people can do odd things. I'd rather wait for the definitive word which we're going to get just in a handful of minutes.

COOPER: And Mark O'Mara, do you agree with that?

O'MARA: Yeah, we talked about it. It seems that you can look at the logic and say that they should have brought him in by now if they were going to. But Jeff is absolutely right. We've done a lot of work on this case, we've tried to figure out what we can. 15 minutes to go and we'll know what the final decision is so let's just wait.

COOPER: Don, we're going to check in with you shortly. Jeff Toobin as well, Mark O'Mara, we're going to take a quick break. Much more on this situation in Ferguson tonight outside the police department where protesters have gathered. The announcement of the grand jury decision now just minutes away. That will be brought to you live. We are going to take a short break and we'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) COOPER: And welcome back. We're live from Missouri tonight, just minutes away from learning whether police officer Darren Wilson has been indicted in the killing of Michael Brown. A prosecutor expected to make that announcement at the top of the hour at 9 Eastern 8 p.m. here. I want to check in with CNN's Jake Tapper who is outside the Ferguson police station. As we've been mentioning, some protesters, a growing number have gathered there. Jake, what's the latest from where you are?

JAKE TAPPER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, we're here on south Florissant and you can see there are about 20 or so police officers from St. Louis County. You can see some of them here, some of them over there outside the police department and the municipal headquarters here. There are a few hundred protesters here. A lot of people are live streaming, a lot of people who are protesting, a lot of people in anonymous masks. People waiting for word of the decision by the grand jury. One way or the other. It is tense. It is a tense atmosphere. There were - there was a filmmaker and his son here earlier, and somebody confronted the filmmaker, an older white guy, and asked him if he was the Klan. There are a lot of rumors about the Klan being here, making an appearance. Apparently the gentleman said something along the lines what does it matter if I am? And that set off a very intense moment where the crowd was circling around him. He was apparently not with the Klan at all. In any case, police got him to his car, got him and his son to his car and they drove away.

But it is very tense here. But so far, a very, very peaceful. A lot of peaceful demonstrations, no violence, nothing along those lines, Anderson.

COOPER: Do you have a sense of how large the crowd is, Jake? I mean, we're looking at an aerial shot. And it looks -- I mean, it's hard to read. Looks like it's certainly several - maybe hundreds or a couple of hundred, but do you have a sense?

TAPPER: I'm not really an expert on crowd estimates. It appears to be at least 500 people, I would say, including protesters including media, including law enforcement, including live streamers, but I would say at least 500 people it seems from my rough guess.

COOPER: All right, Jake, we'll continue checking in with you outside our Ferguson police headquarters. And so, we have cameras and reporters all over the vicinity. Joining me now is Van Jones, CNN political commentator and former special advisor to at White House, also Jeff Roorda, business manager for the St. Louis Police Officers Association and a member of the Missouri state house. Jeff, what are you seeing out there tonight, what are you anticipating?

JEFF ROORDA, ST. LOUIS POLICE OFFICERS ASSOCIATION: Well, I'm hoping for peaceful protests, as has been promised, but, you know, law enforcement is bracing for the worst, and I hope I'm wrong.

COOPER: Has law enforcement changed tactics or evolved tactics, I talked to the chief of the St. Louis police who said that there has been training, that there has been an evolution of tactics. ROORDA: Absolutely. Between St. Louis City and St. Louis County and

I would - put over 100,000 officers through CDT, civil disobedience training.

COOPER: In the last couple of months?

ROORDA: Yes, since the initial protests, yes. So, I think a heightened sense of what it takes to keep peaceful protesters and people that have bad intents safe and protect life and property.

COOPER: Early on, you were here over the summer. There certainly seemed, you know, early on the response was much different than it became even a week or week and half into it.

VAN JONES, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I mean one of the things that happened, people talk about their concern about violence from the protesters, a lot of people are concerned about violence from the police. The militarized response -- people forget this past summer, it was so extreme that the Tea Party and Amnesty International both said they felt that local law enforcement had gone too far. So, I'm hoping that both sides will show restraint. I think that's very, very important. I think the other thing that's important for people to remember is that the kind of rhetoric you heard from both sides is not necessary. Good cops can make bad decisions in a moment. You don't have to imagine that this officer is this horrible all the time, he is the racist all the time. The question is did this cop do the right thing in that moment and was each shot justified? And that's really what it comes down to.

And so you don't have to imagine that Mike Brown is an angel or he's a thug or this officer is a racist or he's an angel. I'm from a law enforcement family. My dad was a cop in the military. One of my favorite uncles just retired from the city police force. Here's what I know about cops. They're human beings. You don't have to demonize them, you don't have to deify them. Look at that individual moment, if the cop made a bad choice in that moment, there should be an indictment.

COOPER: Do you believe this, the legal process has been fair? Obviously, you support Officer Darren Wilson. Do you believe it's been fair?

ROORDA: Well, I keep hearing this notion that Bob McCulloch has done something wrong by presenting all of the evidence to the grand jury, can you imagine the criticism that would rain down on his head if he were to have kept one piece of evidence from the grand jury? I mean, this is just a ludicrous --

JONES: Some of that evidence would not be admissible in court. So, what the critics are saying is that essentially, they're overwhelming grand juries. You know about this.

ROORDA: This isn't just him handing a bunch of boxes, this is presenting evidence piece by piece by piece within context.

JONES: Is he going for a first degree murder or is he going for a man slaughter? That's the problem. The problem is when you give a jury way more information than any grand jury has ever gotten, and then give them way less guidance than any grand jury has ever gotten.

ROORDA: We don't know that.

JONES: That is what - because it looked like a data dump, a document dump. If that is true, that's a very, very unusual ...

COOPER: We'll certainly know more if and when the transcript and everything is released, which this prosecutor has said he will. We're going to have to leave it there. Jeff, appreciate you being on, Van Jones as well. We're now less than five minutes away from the announcement on whether Officer Darren Wilson will be charged for killing 18-year old Michal Brown. Public safety officials say they are ready for any decision that comes down. Joins me from the police station with the crowd continues to grow. Jason, obviously, the crowds knows the announcement is close. How will they hear the announcement there?

JASON CARROLL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, they seem to hear everything, Anderson. Even earlier today as soon as word came down that a decision had been reached, I got a text from one of the organizers who said, decision reached. Head on down to the Ferguson police department. So through social media, I expect this crowd to learn about the decision, whatever it may be very quickly. Also, let me just show you where we're standing, I know we've been having a lot of reports from reporters from around this. Where this crowd is. Right over here, you can see through the crowd, you can see members of the Ferguson police department standing there, this is where they've been throughout the past hour or so as the crowd has come in yelling at them, yelling for justice, yelling for an indictment.

You know, after covering this story for a certain period of time, I can tell you that this police department here with Tom Jackson has really been a source of so much anger for so many of the people here in the community even before this incident happened with Michael Brown. As you know, Anderson, many people here feel as though this department has not been sensitive to the community, and that is why protesters tell me they chose this particular spot, at least for now, to voice their anger and to voice all of their unrest about everything that's been going on. So once again, as we're standing here waiting for the decision, so far the demonstration has been peaceful, the crowd continues to grow. In fact, as we came up the street here behind you, there were a number of cars still heading into the area. So we would expect this crowd to grow as the night wears on. Anderson?

COOPER: And Jason, we'll continue to check in with you as the night wears on. As we said, we're waiting for the grand jury announcement at the top of the hour just minutes away now. With me again our legal analyst Sunny Hostin who is going to be here in a moment, Mark O'Mara, Jeffrey Toobin is joining us, Mark Geragos joins us as well. And we will stick with them as we await this announcement. Sunny, you've been talking to people here in the crowd, you've been talking to the Crump -- Benjamin Crump or the family attorney. What are their biggest expectations you think tonight? HOSTIN: What's been remarkable to me is that everyone is talking

about it. I mean, the minute you land here, people at the airport are talking about it, people at the hotel, people in all the businesses, on the street. And I think the feeling is one that's very different from what I felt when I was in Sanford for the Zimmerman case. People are feeling dread. There seems to be a lack of hope and there's a fundamental mistrust of the process, which I hadn't seen I think before. So many people are saying, isn't this unusual? You know, why is it taking so long, why has the grand jury taken so long to reach a verdict? Why is there so much evidence? You know, there just seems to be a general distrust of the process.

COOPER: Mark Geragos, as we await the press conference where the announcement will be made, what are you going to be listening for beyond just whether or not this officer is indicted?

GERAGOS: Whether or not they release the documents and whether they're going to do it quickly. When they reach this decision, and if they release what the vote was. I would love to see what the vote is on this and how it splits down whether or not it splits down racial lines. I think we'll know in a couple of minutes, but my guess was all along that the whole reason this prosecutor went to the grand jury so they could make a decision themselves.

COOPER: Jeff, can you just explain the various charges that Darren Wilson could be indicted on? Because there are -- there's three or four various options that this grand jury had as an option.

TOOBIN: Right. There are actually four. The first two are forms of intentional murder. Premeditated first degree murder and second degree murder, which are very similar but basically intentional killing with some degree of planning. It doesn't have to be like a day's worth of planning, but a conscious decision to commit a crime by killing someone.

Those are the two top possible charges. The other charges are voluntary manslaughter and involuntary manslaughter.

And basically they are forms of reckless killing, especially involuntary manslaughter it's not a killing that you intend to do. It's often drunk driving kind of killing where your recklessness causes the death of another person. But that's really the jest of it, its intentional murder or manslaughter.