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Federal Grand Jury Facts: Ferguson: FBI Witness #16 Case Study

Federal Grand Jury Facts: Ferguson: FBI Witness #16 Case Study

November 24, 2014

Indictmen v Conviction

Statistically:

When a Federal Grand Jury is convened 99% of the time federal prosecutors get the indictment. Once the indictment is obtained 95-98% of the time there’s a successful outcome (either criminal conviction or settled for lesser charges).  This means that prosecutors make sure they have a really strong case with a lot of evidence before convening a Grand Jury.

If Indicted:

Tonight’s Grand Jury decision regarding Officer Darren Wilson’s action towards Michael Brown, will either result in an indictment (means there’s a trail); and, if indicted doesn’t t mean that Officer Darren Wilson will be arrested or fired immediately it has to go to trial first; but, statistically he’d be found guilty.

If Not Indicted :

It likely means the case is dead. It doesn’t mean it can’t be prosecuted but prosecutors tend to fight cases they think they can win. It also wouldn’t mean Wilson wasn’t guilty it would mean there wasn’t enough evidence to support that finding.  The Brown’s could still seek civil damages from the State but again tougher without the criminal indictment.  It’s much tougher for prosecutors to get a conviction without an indictment.

Updated: No Indictment 

Couple of things: A Grand Jury usually only meets two-three days once a month. That’s not a lot of time to get through all of this information. Especially since an investigation should have also included the police department where Darren Wilson worked.  In part public pressure to hear from the Grand Jury may have actually hurt the case.

Grand Jury testimony is sealed and not released especially when an indictment wasn’t obtained. The unique decision was made to release the information, 24 volumes of material covering 23 meetings between August 21-November 21, 2014.  Taken from CNN

Wilson had never used his weapon on duty before theshooting

Wilson had never fired his gun on duty before shooting Michael Brown, he told the grand jury.

Asked if he had ever used excessive force before, he replied: “I’ve never used my weapon before.”

Wilson testified the area of the shooting was ‘hostile’

Wilson called the area where Brown was shot a “hostile environment.”

“There’s a lot of gangs that reside or associate with that area. There’s a lot of violence in that area, there’s a lot of gun activity, drug activity, it is just not a very well-liked community. That community doesn’t like the police.”

Wilson said he hoped to arrest Brown

Wilson told the grand jury his original goal was to arrest Brown, after identifying him as a possible suspect in a shop theft.

“My main goal was to keep eyes on him and just to keep him contained until I had people coming there,” he testified.

“I knew I had already called for backup and I knew they were already in the area for the stealing that was originally reported. So I thought if I can buy 30 seconds of time, that was my original goal when I tried to get him to come to the car. If I could buy 30 seconds of time, someone else will be here, we can make the arrest, nothing happens, we are all good. And it didn’t happen that way.”

Wilson said he feared Brown could beat him to death

Officer Wilson told the grand jury that Brown punched him in the face when the officer drove back to him.

Wilson said he tried to get out of his cruiser but Brown slammed the door shut twice and hit him with his fist.

“I felt that another of those punches in my face could knock me out or worse … I’ve already taken two to the face and I didn’t think I would, the third one could be fatal if he hit me right,” Wilson said.

Wilson said Brown kept running through shots

Wilson testified he shot at Brown on the street when Brown turned on him.

“As he is coming towards me, I tell, keep telling him to get on the ground, he doesn’t. I shoot a series of shots. I don’t know how many I shot, I just know I shot it,” he said.

“I know I missed a couple, I don’t know how many, but I know I hit him at least once because I saw his body kind of jerk,” he said.

Wilson testified that Brown did not slow down.

“At this point I start backpedaling and again, I tell him get on the ground, get on the ground, he doesn’t. I shoot another round of shots,” he said.

“Again, I don’t recall how many him every time. I know at least once because he flinched again. At this point it looked like he was almost bulking up to run through the shots, like it was making him mad that I’m shooting at him.

“And the face that he had was looking straight through me, like I wasn’t even there, I wasn’t even anything in his way.”

He told the jurors he thought Brown was going to tackle him.

“Just coming straight at me like he was going to run right through me. And when he gets about that 8 to 10 feet away, I look down, I remember looking at my sites and firing, all I see is his head and that’s what I shot.

“I don’t know how many, I know at least once because I saw the last one go into him. And then when it went into him, the demeanor on his face went blank, the aggression was gone, it was gone, I mean, I knew he stopped, the threat was stopped.

“When he fell, he fell on his face.”

Wilson said Brown reached under his shirt

Brown put his hand under his shirt into his waistband when he ran at Wilson, Wilson told the grand jury.

“He turns, and when he looked at me, he made like a grunting, like aggravated sound and he starts, he turns and he’s coming back towards me,” Wilson said.

“His first step is coming towards me, he kind of does like a stutter step to start running. When he does that, his left hand goes in a fist and goes to his side, his right one goes under his shirt in his waistband and he starts running at me.”

The medical investigator took no photos

The medical investigator did not take photographs at the scene of Brown’s killing because the camera battery had died, the grand jury heard.

The investigator, who goes to the crime scene to collect evidence for the pathologist, also did not take measurements of anything at the scene because they “didn’t need to.”

The investigator, whose name was redacted, said: “It was self-explanatory what happened. Somebody shot somebody. There was no question as to any distances or anything of that nature at the time I was there.”

Typically, a medical investigator will take crime scene photos in addition to the ones taken by police investigators.

The investigator testified that they did not see evidence of “stippling” (gunpowder) around the wounds on Brown’s body.

Chosen randomly for Case Study: FBI  Witness 16 

The beginning few pages are housekeeping items (name & address which are redacted) but the tone from the States Attorney and FBI is one of assurance to a person who likely (and rightfully) is not very trusting of law.  The witness is told not to speculate but to just tell what they saw even though it’s normal to want to fill in blanks. It’s stated that the witness is their of their own free will and that no one has offered them payment-which is again confirm.

FBI Witness 16 Page 8 and 9

FBI Witness 16 Page 10

Also noted that the witness is in no way impaired today (the day of the interview) and then the States Attorney stumbles a little as they’ve insulted the witness. The use of today or the question itself  may seem routine but the today is a subtle tell.  This exchange indicates the States Attorney/FBI at least suspects drug use is possible from this witness (whether correct or not it will likely play into their profile of this witness).

Interesting point the witness refers to the victim by his first name: Michael but to the shooter as both, Darren and Darren Wilson. This usually means the witness either knew the victim or identifies with the victim over the shooter indicating there could be a subconscious bias from the witness. Although the witness refers to him as the media has Michael and not Mike. Changing between Darren and Darren Wilson is inconsistent and could be viewed as deceptive.

SA is the State’s Attorney along with FBI agent uses similar language the witness does when questioning only using the name “Mike” opposed to “Michael,” and could be a manipulation on the part of the FBI/SA.”  (page 15) This type of mirroring dialogue is used to help create ease in what is understandably a tense situation for any witness.

FBI Witness 16 Page 11 12 Refers to victim as Michael first name only

FBI Witness 16 Page 13 Refers to Darren Wilson Full Name

It doesn’t mean the witness isn’t telling the truth but the over-familiarity to the victim is a red flag to investigators; and, is in part why witnesses are not always the most reliable. Again, it’s not that the witness is being dishonest, they do believe what they’re saying is true and not trying to be deceptive; and the SA/FBI’s use of “Mike” is likely a manipulation to try and get the witness to perhaps admit more or perhaps catch them in a lie. (Trying to get the witness to let their guard down).

FBI Witness 16 Page 12

FBI Witness 16 Page 13

FBI to Witness 16 Michael Brown Grand Jury Interviews

Witness video will be interesting to view if it’s available. This post will be updated.

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