The 2014 killing of Michael Brown was a critical juncture in the fight for social justice, inspiring the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement and serving as another reminder of America's fraught history with race relations. Six years later, police shootings have continued — and so has the Brown family's quest for justice.
According to CNN, Wilson shot an unarmed Brown after stopping him on a Ferguson street in August 2014. Witnesses said Brown had his hands up when the former officer fired his gun. But Wilson said he was sitting in his police car when the 18-year-old came to punch him. The former officer then fired 12 shots at the teen.
In 2014, a grand jury decided not to indict Wilson, NBC News reported. Bob McCulloch, the St. Louis County prosecutor at the time, said there was no probable cause to indict the former officer who was facing charges of first-degree murder and manslaughter.
At the time, the Brown family was disheartened by the decision.
“We are profoundly disappointed that the killer of our child will not face the consequence of his actions,” the Brown family said.
Five months ago, St. Louis County's current prosecutor, Wesley Bell, reopened the case at the request of Brown's family. But on Thursday, Bell announced he would not be charging Wilson in the killing, the. St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.
“This is one of the most difficult things I’ve had to do as an elected official,” Bell said at a news conference on Thursday. “Although this case represents one of the most significant moments in St. Louis’ history, the question to this office is a simple one: Could we prove beyond a reasonable doubt that when Darren Wilson shot Michael Brown he committed murder or manslaughter under Missouri law? After an independent and in-depth review of the evidence, we cannot prove that he did.”
Bell said he met with Lesley McSpadden, Brown's mother, on Thursday and gave her the news about the court's latest decision.
During the conference, Bell said Wilson could have responded differently on the fatal night.
“There is so many points in which Darren Wilson could have handled the situation differently, and if he had, Michael Brown might still be alive,” Bell said. “But that is not the question before us.”
Michael Brown Sr. was hoping that the election of Bell, St. Louis County's first Black prosecutor, would lead to a different outcome in his son's case. During a press conference last year, the grieving father said he has known Bell since the shooting and he was counting on the prosecutor to help the family get justice.
"I could not protect him that day and it breaks my heart,” the devastated father said according to The New York Times. “We’re not stopping until we get justice.”
Bell said he is a "living testament that change has been implemented in this region" following his election, CBS News reported.
During his Thursday press conference, Bell discussed Ferguson's effort to improve policing and mend the relationship between residents and officers. Although the city now has a Black police chief, more Black officers, implicit bias training and body cameras, social justice advocates say there's more progress to be made.
In an interview with The Times, residents said Ferguson police are still overly aggressive. The statistics support the community's concern. In regard to traffic stops, for example, Black drivers in Missouri are twice as likely to be stopped by police as drivers of other races, The Times reported.