With new details emerging from the grand jury files on Ferguson, our firm's own Erin Ehrlich joined Ed Henry on Fox News to discuss what this could mean moving forward for both Officer Darren Wilson and Michael Brown's family.
The most pertinent detail involves Officer Wilson's own admission that he was not carrying a Taser the day he shot Michael Brown. Wilson stated that he did not like carrying the Taser around with him, as it was too heavy and clunky. When asked about the importance of this evidence, Attorney Ehrlich responded that these details are highly speculative. No one can know for sure what Officer Wilson would have done if he'd had the Taser in the first place.
It is also important to note, Ehrlich pointed out, that the grand jury knew about this when they chose not to convict Officer Wilson. Wilson specifically testified before the grand jury that he did not carry the Taser.
Ed Henry brought up the issue of whether Officer Wilson's failure to carry the Taser was a violation of police protocol. According to Ehrlich, this was likely not a violation. Therefore, according to Ehrlich, these details will not have any effect in the criminal context, but they may still impact the federal investigation into the Ferguson police department's patterns and practices.
Attorney Ehrlich noted that these investigations can result in agreements being reached between local law enforcement and the Justice Department, with significant improvements being made to overall police operations. These improvements can create future safety standards that would benefit the community greatly.
"This is precisely the type of positive change that President Obama keeps calling for, and that even the Brown family keeps calling for in the wake of their son's death," Attorney Ehrlich was quoted saying.
What about the federal investigation?
In regards to Eric Holder, the attorney general leading the federal investigation, Ed Henry pointed out that Holder is planning to step down. Holder appears to be under a great deal of pressure to bring a case even if it's not there and many believe that Holder's statements are merely a political gesture, rather than a viable legal avenue.
But what statements is he making? Namely, those reminding the public about independent investigations that are currently taking place and have been going on since day one.
"By doing that," says Ehrlich, "he is trying to assuage some of the massive disappointment that followed this grand jury decisions. But he might have simultaneously, albeit inadvertently, created this false sense of hope that there will be more criminal charges brought against Officer Wilson."
Furthermore, Officer Wilson has spoken in recent interviews about the community that Michael Brown lived in. The Brown family's attorney suggested that this indicated racial profiling stemming from a distinct bias. Although this is being reviewed by the Justice Department, the legal burden of proof, which is "beyond a reasonable doubt", is extremely hard to satisfy in this context.
In closing, Ehrlich stated that there does not appear to be enough evidence after the grand jury decision to carry that very heavy evidentiary burden. This means that for now, federal charges against Officer Wilson will not likely be brought.