A few days after the grand jury's decision, in his "Last Word" segment, MSNBC's Lawrence O'Donnell pointed out some very disturbing evidence of "mistakes" the DA made in the Ferguson grand jury proceedings. These "mistakes" are so unbelievably shocking, I thought for sure they would be all over the news. Even those who support Darren Wilson have to believe in the sanctity of our judicial process, right?
During the proceedings, St. Louis County assistant district attorney Kathy Alizadeh handed the jurors a copy of a 1979 Missouri statute saying police were “justified in the use of such physical force as he or she reasonably believes is immediately necessary to effect the arrest or prevent the escape from custody.”
However, the Supreme Court found the law unconstitutional six years later -- a detail Alizadeh either did not know, or neglected to mention. Here is a part of that Supreme Court decision, as reported by the Daily Kos:
"The use of deadly force to prevent the escape of all felony suspects, whatever the circumstances, is constitutionally unreasonable. It is not better that all felony suspects die than that they escape. Where the suspect poses no immediate threat to the officer and no threat to others, the harm resulting from failing to apprehend him does not justify the use of deadly force to do so. It is no doubt unfortunate when a suspect who is in sight escapes, but the fact that the police arrive a little late or are a little slower afoot does not always justify killing the suspect. A police officer may not seize an unarmed, nondangerous suspect by shooting him dead."
So that's where the question, "Did Darren Wilson need to get out of his car and pursue Michael Brown?" would come in. A question that a trial could -- and should -- have answered. That question alone is reason for an indictment, no?
The jurors listened to Darren Wilson's testimony of the events, believing that the law the DA handed them was current and correct. Weeks later, Alizadeh mentioned that there was an unconstitutional part of the law that she had handed the jurors, but did not clarify what part that was. Instead, she told them "part of the state law" did not comply with the Supreme Court ruling. When one of the jurors asked whether the high court’s decision overrode state laws, instead of answering with a simple "YES," because of course it does, Alizadeh said, "As far as you need to know, just don’t worry about that." Her colleague, Sheila Whirley, added, “We don’t want to get into a law class.”
The DA's actions keep being labeled as, "mistakes." But I disagree. Maybe there was a slip-up in handing the jurors an old law that would excuse Wilson's actions right before he gave the grand jury his testimony. But if these DAs weren't aiming to sway the jury toward a decision to not indict, why wouldn't they make the unconstitutional part of the law they handed over completely clear when they realized what they had done? Rather, they brushed it under the rug like it was no big deal.
The jury was mislead. Period. That is simply not okay. Can I remind you here that Alizadeh is a prosecuting attorney. As O'Donnell points out, “With prosecutors like this, Darren Wilson never really needed a defense lawyer."
The problem is -- no one cares. Because to most of the country, Michael Brown is just another "thug" who had weed in his system, a bad attitude, and let's not forget was black. It doesn't matter that Wilson's retelling of events reads like a narration from a KKK handout about a "scary black demon." Because clearly, to a lot of Americans, that's what black men are. Even black children. 12-year-old Tamir Rice was shot dead last week for holding a realistic-looking toy gun. Yet James Eagan Holmes, a white man who shot an killed 12 people with multiple weapons and injured 70 others in Aurora, Colorado was able to surrender his weapons and be taken alive.
No one is saying that Michael Brown was a perfect angel. They are saying that shoplifting, jaywalking, and resisting arrest are not crimes punishable by death in this country. Darren Wilson claims he "feared for his life," so much that he had to end Michael Brown's to feel safe. His pursuing of Brown and the shots he fired to end his life were actions that are not held up by our constitution. Had the jury not been confused into believing they were -- Wilson probably would have been indicted.
Is it okay that these DAs presented a decades-old law that had been ruled unconstitutional by the United States Supreme Court to jurors right before they heard Wilson's testimony? If that's not influencing a jury, I don't know what is. Thanks to two either incompetent, or totally crooked District Attorneys -- that Ferguson grand jury was a joke and was the catalyst for riots in Ferguson and protests all over the country.
But no one cares.