This week, former Vice President Joe Biden rekindled the debate over the 2014 murder of Michael Brown with a tweet stating that his life was "taken" by the police and depicts systemic racism in our society. The sixth anniversary of the murder is obviously noteworthy as protests against the murder of George Floyd continue across the country. However, two of Biden's leading candidates for Vice President continue to claim that the police "murdered" Brown in Ferguson, Missouri – a claim that could become a controversial campaign topic as it was the Obama administration that saw the shooting as warranted while Biden was vice president. Given the additional comments made by Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Kamala Harris, a brief summary of the multiple investigations into the shooting appears warranted.
While there has been a lot of criticism on conservative websites that Brown was an unjustified shoot, Biden's tweet is actually carefully crafted. He stated, "It has been six years since Michael Brown's life was taken at Ferguson – to rekindle a movement. We must continue the work to combat systemic racism and reform the police force." national protest against racism in society in general and against the police in particular.
The clear implication, however, is that this was an unjustified shootout. That is the position of Democratic leaders like Warren and Harris. Warren previously said that Brown was "murdered by a white Ferguson police officer" and that his death was an example of "police violence".
Harris also called the shooting of Brown a "murder" and an example of the lack of "accountability" in the criminal system.
These views are likely to be voiced during the election campaign, especially if Warren or Harris are selected by Biden as a vice presidential candidate this week.
The Brown case has been the subject of multiple investigations by state police, prosecutors, the Justice Department and a grand jury. All of these investigations found no basis to charge Office Darren Wilson with a crime. Investigations also revealed that the evidence showed that Brown didn't have his hands up (which led to the widespread "Don't Shoot" demonstrations) and that he attacked Wilson after robbing a store. In particular, the Obama administration under Attorney General Eric Holder came to the following conclusion: "The autopsy results confirm that Wilson did not shoot Brown in the back when he ran away because there were no entry wounds on Brown's back – several witnesses said that Brown has emerged as a physical threat to Wilson when he approached Wilson. "
Early testimony against Wilson was discredited by the Obama Justice Department after an extensive investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the US Attorney's Office. Some of the witnesses cited in the media admitted in the grand jury that they lied.
The shooting came after Brown was videotaped stealing a box of Swisher Sweets cigars from a store and then shoved a clerk. Wilson found Brown and a friend in the middle of the street and told them to go to the sidewalk. Wilson said he drove past the men first, but then came back up to speak to them again. He claims that Brown reached into his police SUV during the swap. During the fight, Wilson's gun discharged into the vehicle and hit Brown's right hand. Brown ran away and Wilson chased him. Wilson shot Brown six times in the front of his body, not in the back as commonly reported. A number of witnesses came forward in support of Wilson's report.
The Justice Department concluded
“There is no credible evidence that Wilson intentionally shot Brown while trying to surrender or otherwise posing no threat. Even if Wilson was mistaken in his interpretation of Brown's behavior, the fact that others interpreted this behavior in the same way as Wilson does precludes the finding that he acted with a bad purpose to break the law. "
The Justice Department issued the following report, categorically stating that "Wilson did not act with the necessary criminal intent". Accordingly, it came to the conclusion that "this matter cannot be prosecuted and should be closed".
In 2014, a grand jury met for three months to review all evidence. It also denied criminal charges against Wilson.
In 2020, Wesley Bell, a new prosecutor, opened a new five-month investigation but concluded that there was no basis on which to bring charges against Wilson.
Biden's tweet and earlier statements by Warren and Harris could draw attention not only to the case but also to the results of the Obama administration.
The controversy for Wilson continues, as CNN reported several years ago: "Darren Wilson may have been legally upheld for killing Michael Brown, but in many ways he doesn't live like a free man." However, these tweets indicate that Wilson is not considered verified by Warren or Harris, and apparently Biden.
The controversy has continued at Ferguson itself, where officials this week prevented activists from painting a mural for Brown.
Here is the Obama administration's report on the Brown shooting: 2015 Report