How robert mcculloch indicted himself

It felt like every minute was an hour. Around lunchtime on Monday, the first news came out that the Ferguson grand jury had reached a decision and that it would be made public that night. All day long, news anchors kept coming back to CNN after commercial breaks to say that Officer Darren Wilson’s fate would be known “in just a few moments.” As the grey November skies turned black as metal, Gov. Jay Nixon held a news conference to say that he hoped people would be respectful and tolerant about the grand jury’s decision, even though he didn’t know what it would be.

A camera above the crowd in front of City Hall in Ferguson, a suburb of St. Louis where an unarmed black teen named Mike Brown was killed by Wilson on August 9 after a fight, moved around the crowd every few seconds. Each time, it looked like 50 to 100 more people had come. They were tense and crowded, standing outside on a cold night for hours to hear if justice would be done for Brown’s death. The announcement was moved from 7 p.m. local time to 8 p.m. When 8 p.m. came, TV cameras showed a podium with no one on it for 12 more minutes. Finally, St. Louis County D.A. Robert McCulloch came out in his red power tie, rude and cocky, determined to spin his version of the case and give the gut-punch news that there would be no charges.


By then, there were maybe a thousand people gathered outside the police station. A lot of people cried and hugged each other, but their sadness quickly turned to anger. Lesley McSpadden, Brown’s mother, started crying and screaming, and Brown’s stepfather yelled, “Burn the b*tch down!” A police car was on fire and gunshots could be heard in the distance within minutes.

The two tragedies that happened in America in front of the whole country — the abuse of a corrupt justice system and the senseless destruction of a city in Missouri — were probably caused by what people on the Internet would call “too many cooks.” There were so many missed opportunities to calm things down, starting with a teenager’s stupid decision to confront a cop and the cop’s decision to fire his gun 12 times at an unarmed teenager, which led to a night with a couple hundred idiots who took advantage of a tragedy to loot and burn. But those bad choices were made when people were upset.

But Robert McCulloch, the top cop in one of the largest counties in the country, was the mastermind behind Monday night’s disaster. He had weeks to think about how he would tell the public about the grand jury’s findings. And he knew that the most likely result would be that he wouldn’t be charged, because he had set it up that way. He could have told people earlier in the day when they were still at work or school, or he could have waited until the next day, as happened in the famous O.J. Simpson murder trial. Instead, he chose a time when the most people could gather to protest and when it would be dark enough for them to act without being seen.


McCulloch made a number of important decisions that were either very strange or maybe not so strange at all when you think about what he was trying to do. Start at the beginning of the crisis, when McCulloch, who came from a family of police officers and whose father was killed by a black man in the 1960s, was elected with the full support of the police union and has never prosecuted a police officer for using too much force. He worked with Nixon to fight any and all calls for him to step aside from the case and let a fair and impartial special prosecutor handle it.

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