St. Louis grand jury has four months to decide to charge Ferguson officer Darren Wilson
The St. Louis grand jury hearing evidence in the case of the white police officer who fatally shot unarmed black teenager Michael Brown last month has been given an extra four months to weigh possible criminal charges against the officer, officials said on Tuesday.
The prosecutor’s office still hopes to conclude its presentation of evidence to the grand jury in October but now has until Jan. 7 to do, said Edward Magee, a spokesman for St. Louis County Prosecutor Bob McCulloch.
“The case is still being presented to the grand jury and we are moving forward with it,” Magee said.
Under Missouri law, grand juries can be empanelled up to six months but typically are held for four months. The current grand jury sitting in St. Louis County was due to disband Sept. 10, but at the request of the prosecutor’s office, St. Louis County Judge Carolyn Whittington has approved holding the jury for the full six months. She then added 60 days to the jury’s term, said Paul Fox, the county’s director of judicial administration.
“This is not a typical case,” Fox said.
The Aug. 9 shooting of Brown by police officer Darren Wilson took place at midday in a residential neighborhood of the mostly black St. Louis suburb of Ferguson. Reports by multiple witnesses that Brown had his hands up in surrender when he was shot multiple times ignited weeks of demonstrations and rioting through the area.
Brown’s family, protesters and civil rights leaders have demanded that Wilson be charged with a crime. They say there is enough evidence for McCulloch to file charges directly without the use of a grand jury and they have demanded that he be replaced with a special prosecutor.
Accounts of the altercation between Wilson and Brown differ. Some witnesses have said Brown posed no threat to the officer, while friends of the officer have said Brown injured Wilson before the shooting. An autopsy showed the teenager was shot at least six times, including twice in the head.
City officials say they are certain there will be more protests and possible rioting if Wilson is not charged and they are making plans for how to handle such unrest.
(Reporting by Carey Gillam; Editing by Bill Trott)