Civil rights leaders and Brown's mother reportedly hoped that Prosecuting Attorney Wesley Bell, who became the county’s first Black prosecutor in January 2019, might reopen the investigation into police officer Darren Wilson, who shot Brown six years ago.
Bell told reporters today that his decision was “one of the most difficult things I’ve had to do."
But after a five month investigation into the case’s evidence, witness statements and forensic reports, he came to the conclusion that “we cannot prove that he” committed murder or manslaughter.
The massive demonstrations that followed the shooting of Brown helped to solidify the Black Lives Matter movement in Ferguson, Mo., and around the country.
A federal investigation and a grand jury cleared Wilson of all charges months after Brown's death in 2014.
Bell didn’t face any backlash when he re-reviewed the investigation into Brown’s shooting because Wilson was never charged or tried, and there is no statute of limitations on murder charges.
Brown, accompanied by his friend, was told to get out of the middle to the street in a residential neighborhood by Wilson, when Brown approached the police vehicle. In the entire altercation, which lasted about 90 seconds, Wilson fired a total of twelve bullets, six of which struck Brown in the front of his body.
Witnesses said Brown, who was unarmed, had his hands up when he was shot, but federal investigators and the grand jury said the evidence showed otherwise.
Brown’s body was left in the street for four hours, which provoked outrage among his family and local residents, prompting the furious protests that ensued.
“Although this case represents one of the most significant moments in St. Louis’s history, the question for this office was 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?” Mr. Bell said during a press conference Thursday.
“After an independent and in-depth review of the evidence, we cannot prove that he did.”
Bell noted that just because Wilson was not found guilty of murder or manslaughter, he had not been exonerated.
“There are so many points at which Darren Wilson could have handled the situation differently and if he had, Michael Brown might still be alive,” Bell told reporters.
The Justice Department declined to charge Wilson, but released a highly critical report that noted racial bias in the Ferguson police department and the county courts.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.