Missouri law could protect Ferguson Officer Darren Wilson

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Missouri Law Could Protect Ferguson Officer Darren Wilson


Saturday marked two weeks since unarmed Missouri teen Michael Brown was shot and killed by police officer Darren Wilson.

"We're hurt," Brown's father told KSHB. "There's no telling what he's doing. He has his life, but our son is gone."

Many protesters insist they won't stop demonstrating until Wilson is arrested.

"I think the first thing that needs to happen, you need to arrest Officer Wilson. He shot and killed a man, shot him multiple times." Harvard Law School Professor Charles Ogletree told NBC. "No one knows anything about him, no one knows why he did it."

So why hasn't Darren Wilson been arrested? As The Christian Science Monitor points out, not everyone agrees that Wilson should be taken into custody. That divide can even been seen among law professors within the same university.

The Monitor quotes another Harvard law professor who says, "We should not arrest [Officer Darren Wilson] until there's a substantial level of proof of criminality, even if it appeared that the police acted improperly."

But opinions aside, there are also some practical obstacles to moving ahead with any prosecution of Wilson.

Missouri's Defense of Justification statute gives police officers broad authority to use deadly force in cases when, "He or she reasonably believes that such deadly force is necessary to protect himself, when he reasonably believes that such use of deadly force is immediately necessary to effect the arrest" and when the subject "May otherwise endanger life or inflict serious physical injury unless arrested without delay."

It's the same law that was invoked in 2000 after two unarmed men were shot and killed by police at a Berkeley, Mo., Jack in the Box.

At the time, Ferguson's police chief, Tom Jackson, was deputy commander in Berkeley.

During that investigation, Jackson defended his officers, who claimed the men in the car had started toward the police vehicle in an effort to escape and the officers feared for their lives.

According to The Daily Beast, investigators in that case found the car had not begun to move towards the officers when the fatal shots were fired. However, the officers were ultimately able to justify their actions under Missouri law by claiming they were in fear for their lives at that moment because the car was a deadly weapon pointed in their direction.

If Wilson is charged in Brown's death, his attorneys could invoke the Missouri law by simply arguing that he believed Brown posed a serious threat to his life, as Business Insider points out.

Wilson's supporters also play a large role - pointing to witness accounts that Brown was the aggressor in the situation, and the police union says it's just too soon for judgment when there's no clear picture of what actually happened Aug. 9.

Wilson's supporters have also started fundraising campaigns for the officer, including a GoFundMe page that has raised more than $230,000. And two Facebook pages in support of Wilson have almost 100,000 likes combined.

The jury in this case began hearing evidence earlier in the week, but as CNN notes, the process is far from over.

"It may be until mid-October before the panel gets through all of the evidence," CNN reports. "That's so important to see as much evidence as they can. So if this officer ... is charged, it may not happen until then."

Until then, a writer for Salon notes the prosecution has two choices: the first, "immediately press charges, issue a warrant for the officer's arrest and arrest Officer Wilson." Or it could hold back, then "present the case to a grand jury and see if the grand jury will find probable cause to indict the officer." Regardless of whether Wilson is soon arrested, the grand jury would still have to find probable cause before he would be indicted.

Michael Brown's funeral is scheduled for Monday.

Missouri law could protect Ferguson Officer Darren Wilson
ST. LOUIS, MO - AUGUST 25: Photos surround the casket of Michael Brown inside Friendly Temple Missionary Baptist Church awaiting the start of his funeral on August 25, 2014 in St. Louis Missouri. Michael Brown,18 year-old unarmed teenager, was shot and killed by a Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson in the nearby town of Ferguson, Missouri on August 9. His death caused several days of violent protests along with rioting and looting in Ferguson. (Photo by Richard Perry-Pool/Getty Images)
ST. LOUIS, MO - AUGUST 25: A St. Louis Cardinals baseball cap at rests on top of the casket of Michael Brown inside Friendly Temple Missionary Baptist Church awaiting the start of his funeral on August 25, 2014 in St. Louis Missouri. Michael Brown,18 year-old unarmed teenager, was shot and killed by a Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson in the nearby town of Ferguson, Missouri on August 9. His death caused several days of violent protests along with rioting and looting in Ferguson. (Photo by Richard Perry-Pool/Getty Images)
ST. LOUIS, MO - AUGUST 25: Director Spike Lee takes a picture of a black St. Louis Cardinals baseball cap that rests on top of the casket of Michael Brown inside Friendly Temple Missionary Baptist Church awaiting the start of his funeral on August 25, 2014 in St. Louis Missouri. Michael Brown,18 year-old unarmed teenager, was shot and killed by a Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson in the nearby town of Ferguson, Missouri on August 9. His death caused several days of violent protests along with rioting and looting in Ferguson. (Photo by Robert Cohen-Pool/Getty Images)
Lesley McSpadden is comforted during the funeral services for her son Michael Brown on Monday, Aug. 25, 2014, at Friendly Temple Missionary Baptist Church in St. Louis. Hundreds of people gathered to say goodbye to Brown, who was shot and killed by a Ferguson, Mo., police officer on Aug. 9. The more than two weeks since Michael Brown's death have been marked by nightly protests, some violent and chaotic, although tensions have eased in recent days. (AP Photo/St. Louis Post Dispatch, Robert Cohen, Pool)
ST. LOUIS, MO - AUGUST 25: People raise their arms during the funeral of Michael Brown inside Friendly Temple Missionary Baptist Church on August 25, 2014 in St. Louis Missouri. Michael Brown, an 18 year-old unarmed teenager, was shot and killed by Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson in the nearby town of Ferguson, Missouri on August 9. His death caused several days of violent protests along with rioting and looting in Ferguson. (Photo by Richard Perry-Pool/Getty Images)
ST. LOUIS, MO - AUGUST 25: Photos surround the casket of Michael Brown inside Friendly Temple Missionary Baptist Church awaiting the start of his funeral on August 25, 2014 in St. Louis Missouri. Michael Brown,18 year-old unarmed teenager, was shot and killed by a Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson in the nearby town of Ferguson, Missouri on August 9. His death caused several days of violent protests along with rioting and looting in Ferguson. (Photo by Richard Perry-Pool/Getty Images)
ST. LOUIS, MO - AUGUST 25: People gather for the funeral of Michael Brown inside Friendly Temple Missionary Baptist Church on August 25, 2014 in St. Louis Missouri. Michael Brown,18 year-old unarmed teenager, was shot and killed by a Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson in the nearby town of Ferguson, Missouri on August 9. His death caused several days of violent protests along with rioting and looting in Ferguson. (Photo by Robert Cohen-Pool/Getty Images)
ST. LOUIS, MO - AUGUST 25: A man reacts during funeral services for Michael Brown at Friendly Temple Missionary Baptist Church on August 25, 2014 in St. Louis Missouri. Michael Brown, an 18 year-old unarmed teenager, was shot and killed by Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson in the nearby town of Ferguson, Missouri on August 9. His death caused several days of violent protests along with rioting and looting in Ferguson. (Photo by Robert Cohen-Pool/Getty Images)
ST. LOUIS, MO - AUGUST 25: The casket leaves the church at the funeral of Michael Brown at Friendly Temple Missionary Baptist Church on August 25, 2014 in St. Louis Missouri. Michael Brown, an 18 year-old unarmed teenager, was shot and killed by Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson in the nearby town of Ferguson, Missouri on August 9. His death caused several days of violent protests along with rioting and looting in Ferguson. (Photo by Richard Perry-Pool/Getty Images)
ST. LOUIS, MO - AUGUST 25: Michael Brown, Sr., father of Michael Brown holding young girl, heads into Friendly Temple Missionary Baptist Church for the funeral of his son on Monday, August 25, 2014, in St. Louis, MO. Michael Brown, an 18-year-old African American male, was fatally gunned down by a White police officer, Darren Wilson, on August 9 in Ferguson, MO. (Photo by Jahi Chikwendiu/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
ST LOUIS, MO - AUGUST 25: Guests wait in line to enter the Friendly Temple Missionary Baptist Church for the funeral of Michael Brown on August 25, 2014 in St. Louis, Missouri. Michael Brown, an 18 year-old unarmed teenager, was shot and killed by Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson in the nearby town of Ferguson, Missouri on August 9. His death caused several days of violent protests along with rioting and looting in Ferguson. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
ST LOUIS, MO - AUGUST 25: Lesley McSpadden, the mother of Michael Brown, walks from her son's grave following a service at Saint Peters Cemetery on August 25, 2014 in St. Louis, Missouri. Michael Brown, an 18 year-old unarmed teenager, was shot and killed by Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson in the nearby town of Ferguson, Missouri on August 9. His death caused several days of violent protests along with rioting and looting in Ferguson. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
ST LOUIS, MO - AUGUST 25: A hearse sits in front of the Friendly Temple Missionary Baptist Church for the funeral of Michael Brown on August 25, 2014 in St. Louis, Missouri. Michael Brown, an 18 year-old unarmed teenager, was shot and killed by Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson in the nearby town of Ferguson, Missouri on August 9. His death caused several days of violent protests along with rioting and looting in Ferguson. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
ST LOUIS, MO - AUGUST 25: Guests wait in line to enter the Friendly Temple Missionary Baptist Church for the funeral of Michael Brown on August 25, 2014 in St. Louis, Missouri. Michael Brown, an 18 year-old unarmed teenager, was shot and killed by Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson in the nearby town of Ferguson, Missouri on August 9. His death caused several days of violent protests along with rioting and looting in Ferguson. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
ST. LOUIS, MO - AUGUST 25: A family member wearing a shirt bearing a photo of Michael Brown, heads into Friendly Temple Missionary Baptist Church for the funeral of Michael Brown on Monday, August 25, 2014, in St. Louis, MO. Michael Brown, an 18-year-old African American male, was fatally gunned down by a White police officer, Darren Wilson, on August 9 in Ferguson, MO. (Photo by Jahi Chikwendiu/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
The funeral procession for Michael Brown heads to the St. Peters Cemetery in Normandy, Mo., Monday, Aug. 25, 2014. Brown, who is black, was unarmed when he was shot in Ferguson, Mo., Aug. 9 by Officer Darren Wilson, who is white. Protesters took to the streets of the St. Louis suburb night after night, calling for change and drawing national attention to issues surrounding race and policing. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
ST LOUIS, MO - AUGUST 25: Guests wait in line to enter the Friendly Temple Missionary Baptist Church for the funeral of Michael Brown on August 25, 2014 in St. Louis, Missouri. Michael Brown, an 18 year-old unarmed teenager, was shot and killed by Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson in the nearby town of Ferguson, Missouri on August 9. His death caused several days of violent protests along with rioting and looting in Ferguson. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
FOR USE AS DESIRED, YEAR END PHOTOS - FILE - Michael Brown Sr. yells out as the casket is lowered during the funeral service for his son Michael Brown in Normandy, Mo., Monday, Aug. 25, 2014. Hundreds of people gathered to say goodbye to Michael Brown, the 18-year-old shot and killed Aug. 9 in a confrontation with a police officer that fueled almost two weeks of street protests. (AP Photo/New York Times, Richard Perry, File Pool)
ST. LOUIS, MO - AUGUST 25: Rev. Al Sharpton and Jessie Jackson touch the casket during the funeral for Michael Brown at St. Peters Cemetery on August 25, 2014 in St. Louis Missouri. Michael Brown, an 18 year-old unarmed teenager, was shot and killed by Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson in the nearby town of Ferguson, Missouri on August 9. His death caused several days of violent protests along with rioting and looting in Ferguson. (Photo by Richard Perry-Pool/Getty Images)
ST LOUIS, MO - AUGUST 25: Under a crush of mourners and media the remains of Michael Brown are loaded into a hearse following his funeral services at the Friendly Temple Missionary Baptist Church on August 25, 2014 in St. Louis, Missouri. Michael Brown, an 18 year-old unarmed teenager, was shot and killed by Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson in the nearby town of Ferguson, Missouri on August 9. His death caused several days of violent protests along with rioting and looting in Ferguson. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
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