Tag Archives: Darren Wilson

Does this guy fit into the 'punk' category?

Jeremy Williams is now at the center of a controversy that doesn’t seem set to fade away.

He’s been arrested in connection with the shooting of two white police officers in Ferguson, Mo., a community beset with racial tension since the shooting death of Michael Brown by Darren Wilson; Brown was a young African-American man, while Wilson is a white former Ferguson cop.


Now comes Jeremy Williams. He’s black. He all but admitted to shooting the police officers, both of whom suffered non-life-threatening wounds.

Williams’s defense? He was shooting at someone else, not the officers.

Oh, here’s another thing: The young man is on probation for receiving stolen property. He’s not supposed to be carrying a firearm.

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder described whoever shot the officers as a “punk.” Jeremy Williams appears to fit that description. Yes, there may be a whole host of extenuating circumstances that have led this young man to take the wrong path into adulthood. “This arrest sends a clear message that acts of violence against our law enforcement personnel will never be tolerated,” Holder said.

What’s more, as a prosecutor said after announcing the young man’s arrest, it doesn’t matter one bit whether he intended to shoot the officers or was aiming at someone else, he’s been accused of committing a Class A felony.


Ex-cop won't face federal civil rights charges

I truly don’t know what to think about the Justice Department’s decision against prosecuting a former police officer in the death of a young black man.

Darren Wilson, formerly a Ferguson, Mo., police officer, was no-billed by a local grand jury this past year after he shot Michael Brown to death during an altercation.

The grand jury’s decision to let Wilson go set off a firestorm across the nation.

Then the Justice Department said it would weigh in on whether Wilson violated any federal civil rights laws when he shot Brown to death. The DOJ said today it wouldn’t prosecute him.


Is this a good thing? For Wilson, who quit the department after the grand jury cleared him, it’s certainly good news. Brown’s family no doubt feels differently.

Me? I tend to honor the local criminal justice system’s view on these matters. The locals said they lacked sufficient evidence to bring charges against the officer and the feds have concurred with what the locals decided.

But there’s an interesting political back story here. Outgoing Attorney General Eric Holder has been criticized — wrongly, in my view — as a “race-baiter.” The calls come from those on the right who contend that Holder, the nation’s first African-American AG, too often relies on race to inform his public policies.

Well, here we have a Justice Department deciding that the white former police officer didn’t commit a crime that needed a federal civil-rights trial to resolve.

Does that mean the criticism of Holder will subside, now that his department — which he is about to leave — has sided with the white guy?

Do not hold your breath waiting for that to happen.


It appears nearly unanimous: grand jury blew it

The chatter all across the country — from the left and the right — appears to be saying the same thing about the death of Eric Garner at the hands of Staten Island, N.Y. police.

The grand jury blew it when it declined to indict a police officer for a crime when he choked Garner to death.

I finally saw the video last night showing Garner being questioned by cops over his alleged selling of “illegal cigarettes.” Garner pleaded with the police to leave him alone, that he wasn’t guilty of any crime. One of the cops then slapped a choke hold on Garner, wrestled him to the ground.

Garner was heard on the video telling the officers 11 times that “I can’t breathe.” He passed out and then died.

And the grand jury couldn’t find probable cause to accuse the officer of a crime?

What in the world has happened here?

The difference between this incident and the Ferguson Mo., case involving the shooting death of Michael Brown, a young black man, by Darren Wilson, a white former police officer, is crystal clear. The Ferguson case had too many conflicting accounts of what happened, whether Brown was surrendering or attacking Wilson. The Garner case is cut, dried and laid out there for everyone to see: The police officer — aided by several of his colleagues — slapped a killer chokehold on Garner.

Could he have lessened the pressure enough to allow Garner to breathe? I believe he could have done exactly that.

Whatever in the world the grand jury was thinking needs to be revealed. As Ricky told Lucy: You got some ‘splainin’ to do.


'Sir Charles' speaks truthfully about looters

Charles Barkley never has enjoyed a reputation as a profound social commentator.

He’s a basketball hall of famer known more for his dunks than his verbal decorum.

However, he spoke with blunt truth about a group of people who have emerged as the universal bad guys in the aftermath of the grand jury’s decision against indicting a white police officer who shot a young black man to death in Ferguson, Mo., this past summer.


He spoke about the looters who protested the grand jury’s findings, telling the New York Daily News:

“Those aren’t black people, those are scumbags,” the NBA Hall of Famer and TNT basketball analyst said of the rioters, who targeted mostly minority-owned businesses. “There is no excuse for people to be out there burning down people’s businesses, burning down police cars.”

At issue is the aftermath of the case involving the shooting death of Michael Brown by former Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson. The investigation produced a lot of contradictory evidence about whether Brown was surrendering, whether he was fighting with Wilson, whether Wilson was threatened physically or whether the officer profiled the young man only because of the color of his skin.

Agree or not with the decision, the response by many in the community went far beyond what is decent.

Barkley happens to agree with what the grand jury decided.

His larger point, though, is in condemning the irrational and idiotic reaction by the looters.

He’s right. They’re scumbags.


Severance package for Officer Wilson? No

Darren Wilson’s departure from the Ferguson (Mo.) Police Department well could provoke a protest among those who believe he deserves a severance package.

Allow me to argue that he doesn’t deserve it.

Wilson was cleared by a local grand jury of criminal charges in the August shooting death of a young black man, Michael Brown. The incident produced a firestorm of protest and the grand jury no-bill has reignited community — and indeed national — anger over the white officer’s role in Brown’s death.

He quit his job. Resigned voluntarily. What he’ll do next is anyone’s guess. I wish him well.

Wilson doesn’t deserve a severance package; the police department has said it won’t offer him one.

I have a bit of personal knowledge about this kind of issue.

I left my last job in daily journalism under duress. The company reorganized its newsroom operation, rolled my once-autonomous department into the newsroom, asked everyone to apply for jobs; I applied for mine, but it went to someone else.

“Well,” I thought, “I think I’ll just quit.”

During my final visit the next day with my soon-to-be former employer, I inquired about a severance. He all but laughed in my face before telling me “No. You resigned.” We talked a few more moments. Then I left, never to return as an employee of that operation.

Wilson’s departure from the Ferguson came totally of his own volition.

Severance package for quitting? Not a chance.


Ferguson cop to leave law enforcement

This might be the least surprising story to come out of the Ferguson, Mo., police shooting incident.

The officer at the center of the controversy is leaving his job. Darren Wilson, cleared of criminal wrongdoing by a state grand jury, is stepping down from the Ferguson Police Department to, shall we say, “pursue other interests.”


His days as a police officer are over. He shot a young black man to death in August and the unrest that erupted in Ferguson and the debate that ensued across the country has yet to be contained fully.

It’s the only call he could have made, given all that has transpired.

Michael Brown’s death has touched off a serious national discussion about police-community relations, particularly as it concerns majority white police departments and the African-American community.

I am passing no judgment on whether Darren Wilson should have been indicted. I wasn’t in the grand jury room and I didn’t hear the evidence that the jurors heard. I’ve read all the conflicting accounts of what happened that terrible night in Ferguson — and I’ll leave it at that.

The aftermath, though, has been tragic at many levels. The criminals who looted, burned and smashed innocent people’s personal property after the grand jury announced its no-bill against Wilson is shameful in the extreme.

And now a policeman’s career has come to an end. Was this young man a good officer? I don’t know that, either.

But he’ll have to find another way to restore some semblance of sanity to his life.

I wish him good luck. He will need lots of it.


No stunts with Officer Wilson, please

Congressman Peter King is prone to performing rhetorical stunts on occasion. He pops off when he would do better to remain quiet.

The New York Republican did it again this week when he suggested President Obama should invite Ferguson, Mo., Police Officer Darren Wilson to the White House to receive, in effect, a public apology from President Obama for the “slander and smear” he has endured in the media for the past four months.


Here’s a better idea. Why not just let Darren Wilson go back to doing his job, if that’s possible now that he’s become an international celebrity/pariah?

Wilson was no-billed by that grand jury in the August shooting death of Michael Brown. Wilson is white, Brown was black. The shooting touched off riots in Ferguson. Then came the grand jury decision, which set off some more riots, not just in Ferguson but in other communities across the country.

The president does not need to engage in a publicity stunt here. He has spoken his piece about the decision. He urged calm and restraint in its aftermath; his plea fell on deaf ears.

Now comes Rep. King to insert himself into this story by suggesting something patently ludicrous on its face.

Let’s have a national discussion about the nature of police-community relations, particularly among the African-American community.

But we can have it without some kind of grandstand play by the president of the United States.

His plate is quite full already, Rep. King.


Why not just accept grand jury verdict?

Maybe the onset of old age is making me more circumspect about some things.

Such as when the criminal justice system renders a decision many folks find repugnant. Meanwhile, I have grown to just accept it as the system doing what it’s intended to do.

The grand jury in Ferguson, Mo., delivered a verdict this week that has many folks reeling. It found that a white police officer, Darren Wilson, did not commit a crime when he shot a young black man, Michael Brown, to death this past summer.

At one level I thought perhaps Wilson overreacted when he confronted Brown one night in the St. Louis suburban community. Brown wasn’t doing anything. Wilson wanted him to stop. Brown threw his hands in the air and the policeman shot him.

Well, that’s not what the grand jury heard in testimony. So it delivered a decision that some believe is unjust.

I won’t go there. I truly have no sure-footed opinion on who is right or wrong. Why? I wasn’t in the grand jury room. I didn’t hear the evidence. I didn’t see the faces of the people testifying before the panel. I didn’t have all the facts to ponder.

We’re all spectators.

That hasn’t stopped some folks from grandstanding.

At another level this case reminds me a bit of the outrage that followed the 1995 verdict in the O.J. Simpson murder case. My reaction then was similar to what it is now. That was nearly 20 years ago, so I cannot claim “old age creep” back then.

But my initial reaction to the acquittal was that the jury got it wrong. I still believe Simpson got away with murder.

Then I wrote a column in which I surmised that after many weeks of testimony, all the hoopla and courtroom histrionics, only the 12 people in the jury box had seen and heard all the evidence. Only they knew what none of the rest of us knew. I didn’t agree with their verdict, but I accepted it. The system did its job.

Then, as now, the rest of us were spectators.

I’m not going to wring my hands over this latest decision. However, I do hope it spurs a serious community conversation in Ferguson, where African-Americans think their government doesn’t represent their interests sufficiently.

The folks there have the tools to fix the problem. They can do so at election time.


Timing of Ferguson decision is more than curious

This isn’t an original thought; it comes from a friend of mine who posted it on Facebook … but I’ll share it here.

He wonders why the prosecutor in Ferguson, Mo., waited until 8 p.m. — well after dark — to tell the nation that the grand jury decided against prosecuting the white police officer in the death of the black youth this past summer.

Why the question? Well, my friend said that “night time is riot time.”

Officer Darren Wilson still might face federal prosecution in the death of Michael Brown. We’ll wait for that drama to play out.

But the town of Ferguson erupted last night in violence after the prosecutor’s announcement.

It makes me wonder: Couldn’t he have announced that he would wait until morning to reveal the grand jury’s decision? Would an announcement made in broad daylight have perhaps calmed tensions just a little?

As the late great slugger Ted Williams used to say about hitting a baseball: Timing is everything.

So, too, it might be in delivering emotionally charged news to an anxious public.


About that calm response in Ferguson …

Well, so much for calmness and reason in the wake of a grand jury’s decision.

A panel returned a no-bill in the case involving Police Officer Darren Wilson, who shot Michael Brown to death in Ferguson, Mo. Wilson is white, Brown was black. The incident touched off a series of protests, often violent. The cops made a mess of putting down the initial unrest. Questions have arisen about whether the African-American community gets a fair shake in Ferguson.


The case went to the grand jury, which Monday night returned its non-indictment. Wilson won’t be prosecuted for any crime.

The most tragic part of the response has been the damage done to innocent people. Their businesses have been looted, destroyed by stones and fire. People have been physically injured. The rage goes on. And for what purpose?

Michael Brown’s father pleaded for calm, asking residents to resist the temptation to strike back. Don’t like Michael die “in vain,” he said. President Obama echoed the sentiment late Monday after the decision came down, but noted that the nation can have a rational conversation about police-community relations.

Where has the reason and the calmness gone?