St. Louis, MO – On January 4, 2015, the Black People’s Grand Jury voted 11 to 1 to indict former Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson on charges of first degree murder in the August 9, 2014 shooting death of Michael Brown, an unarmed 18-year-old black civilian.
In his opening statement, Lead Prosecutor Omali Yeshitela declared that black people “can and must take matters into our own hands” following the “no true bill” determination of the St. Louis County Grand Jury under Prosecutor Robert McCulloch that failed to indict Wilson.
Zaki Baruti, President of the Universal African People’s Organization, Attorney Alex Morley and Attorney Aaron O’Neal also served on the prosecutorial team.
Twelve Grand Jurors from the local community were sworn in, including black educators, a writer, a social worker, a consultant, a contractor and a painter.
Extensive testimony with cross examination by the jurors presented the historical context for the killing of Michael Brown, revealing a long-standing pattern of police violence against black people in the St. Louis area.
Ferguson resident Herdosia Bentum testified on the police harassment and experienced by her and her family. Syreeta Myers and VonDerritt Myers Sr., gave emotional testimony about how their son, VonDerritt Myers Jr., 18, had been gunned down by police in St. Louis on Oct. 8, two months following the murder of Michael Brown by Darren Wilson.
Toni Taylor and Cary Ball Sr. testified about the brutal murder of their son who was shot 25 times by St. Louis cops on April 24, 2013. Bernard Ewing, uncle of Mike Brown, who arrived at the scene of the murder just after it happened provided important testimony about the case.
Glen Rogers, former police officer, and Bill Dotson, Clinical Psychologist and retired St. Louis Health Department official served as expert witnesses on the relationship between the police and the black community.
Video clips of statements made by Dorian Johnson who was with Michael Brown when he was murdered and Cyril Wecht, a forensic pathologist in the case.
Darren Wilson and Robert McCullogh had been subpoenaed to appear, but did not. In place of their live testimony, the Prosecutors entered into evidence televised statements by Wilson and McCullogh.
In his closing remarks, Lead Prosecutor Omali Yeshitela argued that the jurors must not deliberate with the assumption that the Black People’s Grand Jury is impotent. “The St. Louis County grand jury refused to apply law to the facts. We cannot do less than apply the law. We must take power over our own lives.”
Yeshitela pointed out that the problem is institutional. “Darren Wilson was not acting as an outlaw,” Yeshitela stated, “He was doing what U.S. police have done historically and traditionally to African people in this country.”
Assistant Prosecutor Zaki Baruti told the jury that the Black People’s Grand Jury represents self-determination for African people. It is our “historic duty to indict with first degree murder charges!”
Discussion was heard throughout the weekend proceedings about an organized campaign for “Black Community Control of the Police”. For more information, contact the International People’s Democratic Uhuru Movement at 314-643-6519.