ST. LOUIS (KMOX) – Former Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson’s attorney is reacting to the findings of the Justice Department investigation saying there will be no federal civil rights charges filed against Wilson.
Attorney Neil Bruntrager says Wilson is pleased with what amounts to an “exoneration” from the DOJ.
“Well, obviously the reaction is one of relief,” Bruntrager says. “It’s been a long road for him. Now he needs to get on with his life.”
The Justice Department report found no evidence that “Wilson’s actions violated federal civil rights laws.”
As part of the probe, investigators reviewed physical, ballistic, forensic and crime scene evidence, along with medical and autopsy reports.
The report notes that civil rights statutes do not have the equivalent of manslaughter or a statute that makes negligence a crime.
“Federal statutes require the government to prove that Officer Wilson used unreasonable force when he shot Michael Brown and that he did so willfully, that is, he shot Brown knowing it was wrong and against the law to do so,” the report says.
Bruntrager says Wilson has not been named in any civil suits stemming from the shooting, but the Justice Department report could have an impact on other civil suits filed after the shooting.
“I think that this is going to be a real roadblock for different civil suits that are brought,” Bruntrager says. “Going forward, there could be a civil case, but it’s going to be a very difficult case to prosecute from the plaintiff’s point of view.”
In the months following the shooting, protesters thronged the streets chanting “hands up, don’t shoot.”
Bruntrager says the absence of any federal civil rights charges against Wilson questions the legitimacy of that viewpoint.
“It also really does say that the narrative that came out from people like Dorian Johnson and the ‘hands up, don’t shoot,’ that that narrative was simply false,” Bruntrager says.
Bruntrager declines to say more about where Wilson is living or what the future holds for his client.
“We still have issues obviously in terms of security,” Bruntrager says. “We’re still concerned about this. And the fact that this is over and closed doesn’t necessarily meann that people are going to forget.”
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