The grand jury’s decision not to indict Darren Wilson is not surprising because police officers are rarely prosecuted for on-duty shootings. And in the rare instances in which criminal charges are ever brought against police, juries are reluctant to hold them accountable with a felony criminal charge. A report on Cato’s Police Misconduct web site found a conviction rate of only 33% – roughly half the percentage in non-police, civilian prosecutions. It remains to be seen whether Wilson will be held accountable in some other way. We must remember that just because a jury has declined to bring criminal charges does not automatically mean that Wilson should return to duty. Police commanders may conclude, given all the surrounding circumstances, that he may not be right for police work. Certainly his involvement in Brown’s death will create problems for prosecutors who will have to rely on his future work. Wilson’s testimony in future trials could be very problematic.
With respect to the unrest in Ferguson, there seems to be a reluctance to acknowledge the crimes that are being committed by thugs who are taking advantage of the situation. It seems wildly inaccurate to say that protesters have started fires and are looting stores, for instance. The people doing that are criminal troublemakers, not “protesters.”