The police officer who fatally shot Michael Brown won’t face federal charges, according to the Department of Justice (DOJ). However, the DOJ found that the Ferguson Police Department (FPD) has a pattern of civil rights violations.
In a report released Wednesday officials said that the evidence examined in its independent, federal investigation into the fatal shooting of Michael Brown does not support federal civil rights charges against Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson. A grand jury decided not indict Wilson in 2014.
“As detailed in our report, this investigation found a community that was deeply polarized, and where deep distrust and hostility often characterized interactions between police and area residents,” said Attorney General Eric Holder. “Our investigation showed that Ferguson police officers routinely violate the Fourth Amendment in stopping people without reasonable suspicion, arresting them without probable cause, and using unreasonable force against them.
Holder first announced the comprehensive pattern or practice investigation into the Ferguson Police Department after visiting that community in August 2014. The investigation focused on the FPD’s use of force, including deadly force; stops, searches and arrests; discriminatory policing; and treatment of detainees inside Ferguson’s city jail by Ferguson police officers.
In the course of its pattern or practice investigation, the Civil Rights Division reviewed more than 35,000 pages of police records; interviewed and met with city, police and court officials, including the FPD’s chief and numerous other officers; conducted hundreds of in-person and telephone interviews, as well as participated in meetings with community members and groups; observed Ferguson Municipal Court sessions, and; analyzed FPD’s data on stops, searches and arrests.
It found that the combination of Ferguson’s focus on generating revenue over public safety, along with racial bias, has a profound effect on the FPD’s police and court practices, resulting in conduct that routinely violates the Constitution and federal law. The department also found that these patterns created a lack of trust between the FPD and significant portions of Ferguson’s residents, especially African Americans.
The Rev. Al Sharpton’s National Action Network (NAN) said in a statement Wednesday that Sharpton is “deeply disappointed with the decision by the DOJ.” NAN added that they are not discouraged as they continue to fight for the family of Eric Garner as they await the decision in the federal investigation of his death.
“We hope that the Justice Department’s finding that the Ferguson Police Department had a pattern and practice that violates the First, Fourth, and 14th Amendments of the Constitution, will result in an overhaul of the department,” the civil rights organization said.