- The Washington Times - Friday, November 21, 2014

Only 1 in 4 Americans believe that white police officer Darren Wilson should be charged with murder by the grand jury in the shooting death in of unarmed black teenager Michael Brown, according to a poll released Friday.

With the St. Louis County grand jury expected to render its verdict at any time, the Rasmussen Reports poll found that only 23 percent of those surveyed said Mr. Wilson should be indicted for the Aug. 9 murder of Mr. Brown, whose death touched off riots in Ferguson, Missouri.

Another 39 percent of Americans said that Mr. Wilson acted in self-defense, up from 26 percent when the same question was asked in a mid-August poll. Another 38 percent are undecided, compared with 51 percent who were undecided three months ago.

As for predictions, 49 percent say they expect the grand jury to find the officer not guilty on the basis of self-defense, while just 11 percent said they believe Mr. Wilson will be charged with murder.

The vast majority — 81 percent — said they expect to see violent protests if the grand jury does not indict the officer on murder charges, while just 10 percent said such a reaction was not likely.

Fifty percent of those surveyed said that the Justice Department should not pursue federal charges against Mr. Wilson if the grand jury fails to indict him, while 25 percent said the agency should try to charge him with federal crimes related to the shooting.

SEE ALSO: Ferguson’s Darren Wilson in talks to turn in his police badge

The poll found a strong racial divide on the issue. Fully 59 percent of black adults responding to the survey said that Mr. Wilson should be charged with murder, while only 15 percent of whites and 29 percent of other minorities agreed.

Only 13 percent of blacks surveyed said they thought Mr. Wilson acted in self-defense, along with 38 percent of other minorities and 43 percent of whites.

“But blacks (57 percent) are even more convinced than whites (48 percent) and other minorities (47 percent) are that the local legal system will decide Wilson acted in self-defense,” said the Rasmussen analysis.

The survey of 1,000 adults was conducted Nov. 19-20, with a -/+3 percent margin of error and 95 percent level of confidence.

• Valerie Richardson can be reached at vrichardson@washingtontimes.com.

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