A former Missouri police chief is publicly saying that the Justice Department is actively leaking reports that it has found insufficient evidence to support federal charges against Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson. There is certainly a long and controversial history of the Justice Department leaking stories to the media to pressure targets or to prepare the public in otherwise secret or confidential investigations. While threatening witnesses and others over any disclosures, the Justice Department does not hesitate to make such leaks for political purposes. The question is whether the recent uptick in leaks is such a campaign. There has been an increase in such stories coming from unnamed Justice sources and former St. Louis County Police Chief Tim Fitch says that the evidence has supported the officer on a number of points, including a struggle within the cruiser.
Fitch says that the Administration is seeking to “coordinate leaks to the media, and to start getting some of the facts out there to kind of let people down slowly” because they have concluded that charges are “probably very unlikely.”
While he is not required to appear before the grand jury and the vast majority of targets do not appear on advice of counsel, Wilson appeared for hours. The New York Times reports that he gave an account of a struggle inside of the car and a sharply different account from the statement of Michael Brown’s friend, including an autopsy that says that Brown was shot at close range consistent with the officer’s account. The Times reports that forensics tests showed Mr. Brown’s blood on the gun, as well as on the interior door panel and on Officer Wilson’s uniform. Wilson also reportedly has photos of injuries to his face and neck following the struggle.
There are many who believe that the Obama Administration is signaling that no charges will come from the investigation — with many preparing for the possible unrest and violence that may follow such an announcement.