According to sources familiar with a Wednesday conference call that included key elected officials, the St. Louis County grand jury’s decision in the case of Ferguson, Mo., police Officer Darren Wilson is expected to be announced publicly Monday. And sources close to the investigation state that they are not expecting Wilson to be indicted.
A number of key issues in the matter were yet to be fully resolved. Among them, the duty status of Wilson—who shot and killed teenager Michael Brown Aug. 9 after confronting him and another pedestrian for jaywalking—was an issue discussed on the conference call, along with that of Ferguson police Chief Thomas Jackson. News swirled recently that Jackson would resign after the controversy surrounding Brown's death, but his future with the Ferguson Police Department has yet be confirmed.
Several elected officials on the call were said to be pushing for no punishment or career repercussions for Wilson or Jackson—meaning that they not be fired from their respective positions after the grand jury’s announcement. That sentiment did not go over well with other officials on the call, who, according to sources, were pushing for both to be fired before the grand jury announces its decision.
In a press release issued Wednesday, the Department of Justice outlined Attorney General Eric Holder’s role in the conversation, including his expectations for police conduct, and the conduct of citizen demonstrations, once the grand jury decision is announced: “The attorney general stressed that going forward, it will be more important than ever that the law-enforcement response to the demonstrations always seeks to deescalate tensions and respect the rights of protesters. At the same time, the attorney general said, it must be clearly communicated that any acts of violence by the demonstrators, or other attempts to provoke law enforcement, are unacceptable.”
Exactly when the Justice Department will conclude its separate investigation in the case is not yet known.
“With respect to the department’s ongoing investigations into both the shooting of Michael Brown and the Ferguson Police Department generally, the attorney general said he could not provide a specific timeline for concluding those inquiries,” the DOJ statement said.
On Tuesday, Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon held a press conference to announce what authorities were planning for any potential civil unrest after the grand jury's announcement.
“The [National] Guard will be available when we determine it is necessary to support local law enforcement,” he said, with six law-enforcement officers standing behind him. “We must and will be fully prepared.”
Local police officials were heavily criticized for their actions in August after Brown was killed, and a series of protests in Ferguson resulted. In numerous instances, police were caught on tape and live video, and their conduct included teargassing peaceful protesters, making arrests of protesters peaceably standing on public sidewalks and streets, and mass arrests on charges such as “assault to a police officer” with unsubstantiated charges.