Justice Department officials say there is no evidence to dispute Officer Darren Wilson’s version of events in the fatal shooting of Michael Brown. Wilson said Brown fought with him and reached for his gun and then charged at him. Wilson, who has since resigned from the police force, told investigators he feared for his life.
Federal investigators found that witnesses who claimed Brown had his hands up and was surrendering were not credible. “Some of those accounts are inaccurate because they are inconsistent with the physical and forensic evidence,” the federal report stated, adding that some witnesses constantly changed their version of events. “Some of those (witness) accounts are materially inconsistent with that witnesses own prior statements with no explanation.”
This report clearing Wilson of any wrongdoing is different from a separate DOJ report investigating the Ferguson police department.
The federal investigation into how the police department operates began after the fatal Brown shooting and finds police patterns of racial bias towards African Americans in Ferguson. Black drivers, for instance, are more likely to be stopped and searched than white motorists.
The feds also found that nearly all people detained at the city jail for longer periods of time were black and that the majority of all cases involve African American residents. The police force, the DOJ says, “routinely” violated the constitutional rights of residents with “unreasonable searches and force,” and the city budget depends largely on funds from tickets and fines.
Also DOJ report says that FPD and court system repeatedly violated the US Constitution by focusing on collecting revenue over providing public safety, the US Department of Justice said in a report on Wednesday.
“The combination of Ferguson’s focus on generating revenue over public safety, along with racial bias, has a profound effect on the Ferguson Police Department’s police and court practices, resulting in conduct that routinely violates the Constitution and federal law,” the Justice Department said.
The Ferguson court’s practices “exacerbated the harm” caused by the FPD, especially on the poor, according to the report.
“Minor offenses can generate crippling debts, result in jail time because of an inability to pay and result in the loss of a driver’s license, employment, or housing,” the report said.
This comes as the city of Ferguson, Missouri is now facing some hard choices after that lengthy investigation: will the men and women in blue disappear from that St. Louis suburb?
“My guess is it’s going to be so expensive to the city of Ferguson, they’re going to have to make a survival decision,” Tim Fitch told The Huffington Post. “Financially, I don’t believe they’re going to be able to do one of two things: either they’re going to fight it, and to be able to afford that, or to implement all of the changes that DOJ is going to require is going to so expensive, they’re not going to be able to do it.”
Costs include having to pay for a court-ordered monitor, and the city’s coffers just don’t have those kinds of deep-pocket funds. If it were to disband, the St. Louis County Police Department would likely take over policing duties for Ferguson.
City officials declined to comment, saying they want to first look at the DOJ’s report in depth before saying anything.