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Missouri law could protect Ferguson Officer Darren Wilson

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.

Join the discussion

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Jack August 23 2014 at 7:12 PM

An article like this is designed specifically to incite violence and rioting.

The media is terrible and has acted so irresponsibly throughout this entire incident.

Flag Reply +109 rate up
30 replies
dhendr3229 August 23 2014 at 7:27 PM

So AOL has decided Wilson needs to be arrested? He is an officer of the law and was doing his job. If this had been a white kid he killed we would have not heard about it.

Flag Reply +106 rate up
31 replies
wirenuts2 August 23 2014 at 7:23 PM

to all blacks ,respect the law and situations like this would not happen , because your black and in the ghetto doesn't mean you can not obey the law !! this teen was a thug and this officer was attacked my him , face the facts

Flag Reply +106 rate up
28 replies
Evans Mom August 23 2014 at 7:23 PM

If he didn't just commit a crime none of this would have happened.

Flag Reply +103 rate up
20 replies
Hi August 23 2014 at 7:22 PM

That officer should not have been attacked by Brown, had Brown been a law abiding citizen he would have done what was asked of him and went on with his day. The officer was in fear of the young man after he tried to take his gun, and bisted him in the face, plus dashing back after him to over take him. Brown was a bully and a thief, I saw the video, he abused people.

Flag Reply +102 rate up
13 replies
drepke August 23 2014 at 7:28 PM

Oddly in the article do they not mention that Michael Brown attacked the officer and injuried him. That would put the officer in fear of his life. This is a rehash of Trayvon Martin case, the family gets to say anything they want and paint a picture that is totally undone by the evidence when it is finally made public.

Flag Reply +107 rate up
27 replies
ColdNKC August 23 2014 at 7:18 PM

and I quote....So why hasn't Wilson been arrested ? You think maybe because all the facts haven't been provided and the investigation isn't complete might be a good enough reason ? What happened to Innocent until proven guilty. The residents of Ferguson and all that were involved in the violence, are the ones that should be arrested. Since when is stealing not a crime? These thugs don't even need a reason to act like a bunch of animals.

Flag Reply +104 rate up
27 replies
DanD August 23 2014 at 7:16 PM

I am surprised that Obama hasn't called for a BEER SUMMIT between Wilson and Browns parents.... I'm REALLY surprised that Obama hasn't said something like, "if I had a son, he'd probably look like Mike Brown"....

Flag Reply +100 rate up
37 replies
DanD August 23 2014 at 7:14 PM

Not ONLY does the law provide protection for Wilson, so does the FACT that Brown was a thug and attacked him. If Brown had gotten Wilson's weapon, there is no doubt that he would have killed officer Wilson. Wilson would be dead, Brown in prison awaiting execution, and the BLACKS would be....? What would they be doing? Protesting that a cop killer was being treated unfairly? Or Perhaps they would be protesting against Browns parents for raising such a thug. YEAH, RIIIIIGHT!

Flag Reply +104 rate up
40 replies
tmspitrow August 23 2014 at 7:17 PM

no justice if the officer is arrested.
had the store clerk killed both thugs,would he be arrested?

Flag Reply +98 rate up
13 replies
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