A grand jury was preparing on Monday to resume its painstaking job of sorting through evidence and testimony in the fatal police shooting of Michael Brown, an unarmed young black man, by white Ferguson, Mo., Police Officer Darren Wilson, and a decision could be announced any time.
The grand jury deliberated on Friday and is deciding whether to indict Wilson in the Aug. 9 shooting of Brown, 18.
Though the proceedings are secret by law, officials have floated signs that a decision could come soon: Procedures have been announced about how the decision will be made public and officials have issued repeated calls for calm regardless of the grand jury’s decision. At least one local school district canceled classes on Monday and Tuesday in anticipation of an announcement.
But no decision was announced over the weekend, prompting speculation about the grand jury's schedule.
Downtown STL Inc., a St. Louis civic group that promotes downtown businesses, told members in an email Saturday that the grand jury will reconvene Monday to continue deliberating. The email did not explain how the group knew that, and St. Louis County Prosecutor Bob McCulloch's office has repeatedly avoided commenting on the grand jury's actions.
Barricades stood a silent sentinel outside the St. Louis County Justice Center in Clayton, Mo., where the 12 grand jurors have been meeting to decide the case. The grand jury has a variety of options.
Multiple media reports over the weekend indicated that the jurors were still in the deliberation phase but had not reached a decision on whether to charge Wilson or with what.
It takes nine votes on the grand jury to bring a charge, which means that if four grand jurors are adamant on not charging a police officer, there will be no indictment. It is not known how the vote was shaping up inside the grand jury room.
Nor is it known if there is a charge on which the jurors are coalescing around. The charges range from murder to manslaughter with gradations in between.
Prosecutor McCulloch has said he expected a decision by the end of the month. But the grand jury is its own master and can determine its own timetable. It may even decide to seek more testimony or evidence.
Usually, the prosecutor suggests a charge to a grand jury that occasionally, though rarely, ignores the advice.
In this politically and racially charged case, the prosecutor has taken a more neutral position, advising the grand jurors and allowing conflicting evidence to be presented. For example, two separate autopsies on Brown have been presented, the official one and one performed by former New York medical examiner Michael Baden, who was retained by the family.
Benjamin Crump, an attorney for the Brown family, said they are frustrated the prosecutor didn't charge Wilson himself or suggest a charge to grand jurors.
As it is, “you don't have any direction, you're just putting all the evidence out there and you're going to let them figure it out and they can make up their own minds,” Crump told the media. “You know, it just boggles the mind why he thinks this is fair.”
The demonstrations continued on Sunday evening, police reported.
“Quiet night outside the Ferguson Police Department,” the city police reported. “The only thing that happened last night was one individual ran across the street from the Andy Wurm parking lot to the front of the police department, separated the barricade and pushed it open, then quickly ran back across the street to the Andy Wurm parking lot. That is it. Didn't appear to be more than 15 demonstrators all night.”
“No arrests,” police said.
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