A St. Louis County grand jury has brought no criminal charges against Darren Wilson, a white police officer who fatally shot Michael Brown, an unarmed African-American teenager, more than three months ago in nearby Ferguson.
The decision by the grand jury was announced Monday night by the St. Louis County prosecutor, Robert P. McCulloch. The killing, on a residential street in Ferguson, set off weeks of civil and national debates by protesters who were outraged over what they called a pattern of police brutality against young black men. Mr. McCulloch said Officer Wilson had faced charges ranging from first-degree murder to involuntary manslaughter.
The decision set off a new wave of anger among those who had gathered outside the Ferguson Police Department. Police officers in riot gear stood in a line as demonstrators chanted and threw signs and other objects toward them as the news spread. “The system failed us again,” one woman said.
As the night went on, the situation grew more intense and riots began in several locations around the region. Bottles and rocks were thrown at officers, and windows of businesses were smashed. Several police cars were burned; buildings, including a Walgreens, a meat market and a storage facility, were on fire, and looting was reported in several businesses. Gunshots could be heard along the streets of Ferguson, and law enforcement authorities deployed smoke and gas to control the crowds reports NY Times.
Before midnight, St. Louis County police officers reported heavy automatic gunfire in the area where some of the largest protests were taking place. Flights to Lambert-St. Louis International Airport were not permitted to land late Monday as a safety precaution, officials said.
At a news conference around 1:30 a.m., Jon Belmar, the St. Louis County police chief, said at least a dozen buildings had been set on fire.
“As soon as Mr. McCulloch announced the verdict, the officers started taking rocks and batteries,” said Chief Belmar, who said he personally heard about 150 shots fired. He said the police did not fire a shot.
Mr. Brown’s family issued a statement expressing sadness, but calling for peaceful protest and a campaign to require body cameras on police officers nationwide. “We are profoundly disappointed that the killer of our child will not face the consequence of his actions,” the statement said. “While we understand that many others share our pain, we ask that you channel your frustration in ways that will make a positive change. We need to work together to fix the system that allowed this to happen.”
But outside the police station, Lesley McSpadden, Mr. Brown’s mother, voiced frustration with the decision. “They wrong!” she yelled, pointing toward the police officers standing outside of the station. “Y’all know y’all wrong!”
Hotzoners let your opinion be heard but, let’s not stoop down to the level they expect of us. Let’s protest and campaign peacefully and send our prayers to the Brown family !.