ST. LOUIS (KMOV.com/AP) – St. Louis County Prosecutor Wesley Bell will not file charges against former Ferguson Officer Darren Wilson in the shooting death of Michael Brown following a "re-investigation" into the case.
Bell made the announcement Thursday afternoon in a news conference. It was not previously known that he had reopened the case.
Bell’s predecessor, seven-term St. Louis County Prosecutor Bob McCulloch, drew criticism for his handling of the investigation into the fatal shooting, with detractors accusing him of guiding the grand jury to its decision not to indict the Wilson, which came in November 2014, three months after Brown's death.
In August 2019, five years since his son’s death, Michael Brown Sr. called on Bell to reopen the investigation. At the time, Bell’s office would not say whether they would reopen the case but said it “is doing everything we can to understand the underlying issues that contributed to the tragic death of Michael Brown.”
Wilson told investigators that he shot Brown — who was 6 feet, 4 inches tall and weighed 290 pounds — in self-defense. Some people in the Canfield Green apartment complex near the shooting initially claimed that Brown had his hands up in surrender, but the grand jury found no evidence to confirm that.
The shooting led to weeks of protests that included looting and violent confrontations between demonstrators and police officers, many in riot gear and with military-style weapons. Protests escalated again after the grand jury announcement.
The top prosecutor in St. Louis County is leaving office at the end of this month, after holding the office for near three decades.
Although the Justice Department declined to indict Wilson, it did issue a report citing racial prejudice in the Ferguson Police Department and a municipal court system that made money through court fines and legal fees — costs largely borne by black residents. A consent agreement signed in 2016 requires significant reforms.