- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Former Officer Darren Wilson has been cleared of all civil rights violations in the fatal shooting of teenager Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, following a Justice Department investigation.

The official release of the DOJ’s report Wednesday confirms what many had expected, that there would be no charges filed against Mr. Wilson. After a grand jury decided not to file charges against the former officer in November, Mr. Brown’s family had turned their hopes to the DOJ to potentially bring federal charges.

“The evidence is insufficient to establish probable cause or to prove beyond a reasonable doubt” that Mr. Wilson acted out of racial bias, the report said.

The altercation between Mr. Wilson and Mr. Brown last August set off a wave of protests around the country, as well as debates over racial bias in police departments, the military equipment used by police and the relations between law enforcement and the communities they serve.

Mr. Wilson maintained that he acted out of self-defense when attacked by Mr. Brown. Advocates for the teen yelled “hands up, don’t shoot” to protest what they viewed as police brutality.

The justice department reviewed more than 35,000 pages of records and forensic evidence and conducted hundreds of interviews but ultimately found no evidence to support the claims that Mr. Brown had his hands up and was surrendering to Mr. Wilson when he was killed.

“Multiple credible witnesses corroborate virtually every material aspect of Wilson’s account and are consistent with the physical evidence,” the report said.

Reaction to the report at the White House was muted. White House press secretary Josh Earnest said the report “doesn’t change that there was a tragedy” in Ferguson, and said the issue of police relations with minority communities is “much broader than just one community.”

Mr. Earnest said the episode in Ferguson drew national attention to the issue and said President Obama believes “that is a good thing for the country.”

In a separate investigation into the Ferguson Police Department itself, the Justice Department said they found a pattern of civil rights violations against black citizens.

“This investigation found a community that was deeply polarized, and where deep distrust and hostility often characterized interactions between police and area residents,” said Attorney General Eric Holder, who has made trying to fix racial discrimination a hallmark of his tenure.

The report is “only the beginning of a necessarily resource-intensive and inclusive process to promote reconciliation, to reduce and eliminate bias, and to bridge gaps and build understanding,” Mr. Holder said.

Ron Hosko, president of the Law Enforcement Legal Defense Fund, said that the Obama administration has known that Mr. Wilson acted in self-defense, but instead chose to “let the embers of civil unrest burn, fanned by the rhetoric of opportunistic race dividers.”

David Boyer contributed to this story.

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