The Justice Department will not bring any federal civil rights charges against Darren Wilson, a white police officer involved in the death of a black teenager, The New York Times reported Wednesday.
The announcement would essentially close the books on the case, but could set off a fresh wave of protests and possibly riots similar to those that followed last year’s refusal of a St. Louis County grand jury to bring charges for homicide or any other state crime.
The Justice Department told The Washington Times that it would not comment on the article or about the ongoing investigation. The Associated Press later reported that the FBI had completed its investigation and noted that scholars long had thought an indictment “would be highly unlikely.”
Mr. Wilson, who later resigned from the police department, was exonerated by a grand jury in November in the altercation that led to the death of black teenager Michael Brown. Some advocates accuse Mr. Wilson of shooting the teen in cold blood; Mr. Wilson has maintained that Brown attacked him.
Many civil rights advocates had pinned their hopes on the Justice Department, saying they wanted the agency to file federal charge against Mr. Wilson — similar to how the department brought civil rights charges, and obtained two convictions, after four Los Angeles police officers were acquitted in the Rodney King beating.
But now that may not happen.
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The New York Times reported that federal prosecutors are drafting a memo that recommends no action be taken against Mr. Wilson.
The paper, citing unnamed law enforcement officials, said that the government’s investigation had found no evidence to support charges against the police officer.
A former FBI assistant director applauded the Times report and accused the probe of being trumped-up racial politicking from the start.
“DOJ has known from the very beginning that no violation of civil rights occurred when Officer Darren Wilson shot an aggressor, Michael Brown, in self-defense. Instead of deliberating immediately and issuing their conclusion in the fall, the Obama Administration let the embers of civil unrest burn, fanned by the rhetoric of opportunistic race dividers,” said Ron Hosko, president of the Law Enforcement Legal Defense Fund.