[There was a video here]
Ferguson prosecutor Robert McCulloch delivered a long-winded, smirking speech blaming social media, journalists, Ferguson residents, and pretty much everyone else who isn't Darren Wilson, for Darren Wilson shooting and killing 18-year-old Michael Brown.
It took McCulloch 10 minutes of hectoring before he revealed the grand jury had found no probable cause to indict Wilson, and the rest of the 45-minute speech, in which McCulloch seemed to be presenting evidence in Wilson's favor, felt more like defense attorney's argument than a prosecutor's. The very length of McCulloch's rambling statement, really, and the amount of evidence he felt compelled to argue against, was in and of itself a fair argument that the case should have gone to trial.
But before he got to any of that, McCulloch explained all the ways the case could have been quietly shelved, had those meddling witnesses stayed off Twitter.
On August 9, Michael Brown was shot and killed by a police officer, Darren Wilson. Within minutes, various accounts of the incident began appearing on social media, accounts filled with speculation and little if any solid, accurate information. Almost immediately, neighbors began gathering and anger began growing because of the various descriptions of what had happened and because of the underlying tension between the police department and a significant part of the neighborhood.
Fully aware of the unfounded but growing concern in some parts of our community that the investigation and review of this tragic death might not be full and fair, I decided immediately that all of the physical evidence gathered, all people claiming to have witnessed any part or all of the shooting and any or all other related matters would be presented to the grand jury.
Our investigation and presentation of the evidence to the grand jury in St. Louis county has been completed. The most significant challenge encountered in this investigation has been the 24-hour news cycle and its insatiable appetite for something, for anything to talk about. Following closely behind were the nonstop rumors on social media.
I recognize, of course, that the lack of accurate detail surrounding the shooting frustrates the media and the general public and helps breed suspicion among those already distrustful of the system. Yet those closely guarded details—especially about the physical evidence—give law enforcement a yard stick for measuring the truthfulness of witnesses.
McCulloch offered Brown's gunshot wounds as an example, claiming that witnesses changed their stories after private autopsy results went public. McCulloch also appeared to suggest that the grand jurors determined witnesses' credibility based on whether they changed their stories for the press.
"There is no question of course that Darren Wilson caused the death of Michael Brown by shooting him," McCulloch said, in an extraordinary linguistic backbend. "But the inquiry doesn't end there."