The Ferguson Fraud
By RICH LOWRY
November 25, 2014
The bitter irony of the Michael Brown case is that if he had actually put his hands up and said don't shoot, he would almost certainly be alive today. His family would have been spared an unspeakable loss, and Ferguson, Missouri wouldn't have experienced multiple bouts of rioting, including the torching of at least a dozen businesses the night it was announced that Officer Darren Wilson wouldn't be charged with a crime.
Instead, the credible evidence (i.e., the testimony that doesn't contradict itself or the physical evidence) suggests that Michael Brown had no interest in surrendering. After committing an act of petty robbery at a local business, he attacked Officer Wilson when he stopped him on the street. Brown punched Wilson when the officer was still in his patrol car and attempted to take his gun from him.
The first shots were fired within the car in the struggle over the gun. Then, Michael Brown ran. Even if he hadn't put his hands up, but merely kept running away, he would also almost certainly be alive today. Again, according to the credible evidence, he turned back and rushed Wilson. The officer shot several times, but Brown kept on coming until Wilson killed him.
This is a terrible tragedy. It isn't a metaphor for police brutality or race repression or anything else, and never was. Aided and abetted by a compliant national media, the Ferguson protestors spun a dishonest or misinformed version of what happened—Michael Brown murdered in cold blood while trying to give up—into a chant ("hands up, don't shoot"
and then a mini-movement.
When the facts didn't back their narrative, they dismissed the facts and retreated into paranoid suspicion of the legal system. It apparently required more intellectual effort than almost any liberal could muster even to say, "You know, I believe policing in America is deeply unjust, but in this case the evidence is murky and not enough to indict, let alone convict anyone of a crime."
They preferred to charge that the grand jury process was rigged, because St. Louis County prosecutor Robert McCulloch didn't seek an indictment of Wilson and allowed the grand jury to hear all the evidence and make its own decision. This, Chris Hayes of MSNBC deemed so removed from normal procedure that it’s unrecognizable.
It's unusual, yes, but not unheard of for prosecutors to present a case to a grand jury without a recommendation to indict. Regardless, who could really object to a grand jury hearing everything in such a sensitive case? If any of the evidence were excluded that, surely, would have been the basis of other howls of an intolerably stacked deck.
It’s a further travesty, according to the Left, that Officer Wilson was allowed to testify to the grand jury. Never mind that it is standard operating procedure. As former prosecutor Andrew McCarthy points out, guilty parties usually don't testify because they have to do it without their lawyer present and anything they say can be used against them.
It is also alleged that the prosecutor McCulloch is biased because his father was a cop who was killed by a criminal. Follow this argument though to its logical conclusion and McCulloch would be unable to handle almost all cases, because of his engrained bias against criminality.
Finally, there is the argument that Wilson should have been indicted so there could be a trial "to determine the facts." Realistically, if a jury of Wilson's peers didn't believe there was enough evidence to establish probable cause to indict him, there was no way a jury of his peers was going to convict him of a crime, which requires the more stringent standard of beyond a reasonable doubt.
Besides, we don't try people for crimes they almost certainly didn't commit just to satisfy a mob that will throw things at the police and burn down local businesses if it doesn't get its way. If the grand jury had given into the pressure from the streets and indicted as an act of appeasement, the mayhem most likely would have only been delayed until the inevitable acquittal in a trial.
The agitators of Ferguson have proven themselves proficient at destroying other people's property, no matter what the rationale. This summer, they rioted when the police response was "militarized" and rioted when the police response was un-militarized. Local businesses like the beauty-supply shops Beauty Town (hit repeatedly) and Beauty World (burned on Monday night) have been targeted for the offense of existing, not to mention employing people and serving customers.
Liberal commentators come back again and again to the fact that Michael Brown was unarmed and that, in the struggle between the two, Officer Wilson only sustained bruises to his face, or what Josh Marshall of Talking Points Memo calls an "irritated cheek." The subtext is that if only Wilson had allowed Brown to beat him up and perhaps take his gun, things wouldn't have had to escalate.
There is good reason for a police officer to be in mortal fear in the situation Officer Wilson faced, though. In upstate New York last March, a police officer responded to a disturbance call at an office, when suddenly a disturbed man pummeled the officer as he was attempting to exit his vehicle and then grabbed his gun and shot him dead. The case didn't become a national metaphor for anything.
Ferguson, on the other hand, has never lacked for media coverage, although the narrative of a police execution always seemed dubious and now has been exposed as essentially a fraud. "Hands up, don't shoot" is a good slogan. If only it was what Michael Brown had done last August.