Warren And Harris Accuse Cleared Ferguson Officer Of Murder

Facts are often strangers to politicians who want to trigger emotive responses in targeted groups. The problem is when good politics make for bad law. That seems to be the case with Senators Kamala Harris and Elizabeth Warren who have declared that Michael Brown was murdered five years ago in Ferguson, Missouri. The problem is that their statements would mean that Officer Darren Wilson is a murderer. However, Wilson was cleared in the shooting, including an exoneration by the Obama Administration. Wilson could conceivably claim defamation but the standard is quite high for a public figure.

Three months after the shooting, a grand jury rejected an indictment of Wilson. Later a report released by President Barack Obama’s Department of Justice found that Wilson most likely had reason to fear for his life in using lethal force. That latter conclusion followed a controversial decision by Obama and his Attorney General Eric Holder to intervene before the completion of the local investigation. Some of us raised the concern that the intervention of Obama and Holder signaled a strong desire for federal charges. However, the Justice Department found no credible evidence of murder.

The DOJ concluded:

Department of Justice Report Regarding the Criminal Investigation into the Shooting Death of Michael Brown by Ferguson, Missouri Police Officer Darren Wilson, March 4, 2015: As detailed throughout this report, the evidence does not establish that the shots fired by Wilson were objectively unreasonable under federal law. The physical evidence establishes that Wilson shot Brown once in the hand, at close range, while Wilson sat in his police SUV, struggling with Brown for control of Wilson’s gun. Wilson then shot Brown several more times from a distance of at least two feet after Brown ran away from Wilson and then turned and faced him. There are no witness accounts that federal prosecutors, and likewise a jury, would credit to support the conclusion that Wilson fired at Brown from behind. With the exception of the two wounds to Brown’s right arm, which indicate neither bullet trajectory nor the direction in which Brown was moving when he was struck, the medical examiners’ reports are in agreement that the entry wounds from the latter gunshots were to the front of Brown’s body, establishing that Brown was facing Wilson when these shots were fired. This includes the fatal shot to the top of Brown’s head. The physical evidence also establishes that Brown moved forward toward Wilson after he turned around to face him. The physical evidence is corroborated by multiple eyewitnesses.

Nevertheless, Harris wrote: “Michael Brown’s murder forever changed Ferguson and America. His tragic death sparked a desperately needed conversation and a nationwide movement. We must fight for stronger accountability and racial equity in our justice system.”

Warren tweeted that “5 years ago Michael Brown was murdered by a white police officer in Ferguson, Missouri. Michael was unarmed yet he was shot 6 times. I stand with activists and organizers who continue the fight for justice for Michael. We must confront systemic racism and police violence head on.”

The non-profit website factcheck.org and the Washington Post have both chastised Warren and Harris for their statements.

While both Harris and Warren have criticized Trump for ignoring his own Justice Department and politicizing the legal process, these allegations of murder would seem to raise the same concerns. What would be interesting is if Wilson elects to sue for defamation. This could be defended as opinion. However, even under the New York Times v. Sullivan standard, there are cases to be made for “actual malice,” which is defined as either knowing falsehood or reckless disregard of the truth.Wilson could claim that the statements constitute reckless disregard of the truth as established by the Obama Administration and the grand jury.

What is interesting is that both Warren and Harris are rejecting the results of the state and federal legal systems, including the judgment of professionals at the Justice Department in the case. They have criticized Trump for the same type of dismissive approach to legal standards.

What do you think?

268 thoughts on “Warren And Harris Accuse Cleared Ferguson Officer Of Murder”

  1. Should we ask Kamala Harris and Liz Warren their thoughts about dangerous and irresponsible rhetoric that inflames and incites racial tensions?? Or nah?

  2. Meanwhile, and moving forward:

    Sasse calls on DOJ to ‘rip up’ Epstein nonprosecution deal to bring ‘co-conspirators to justice’

    https://thehill.com/homenews/administration/457288-sasse-calls-on-justice-dept-to-rip-up-epstein-non-prosecution-deal-to

    Excerpt:

    Former Trump Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta resigned last month after drawing scrutiny over his role in negotiating the plea deal for Epstein.

    “This agreement should shock the conscience of anyone familiar with its details,” Sasse said in the letter. “This crooked deal cannot stand.”

    The letter represents the second time in less than a week that Sasse has reached out to Barr about Epstein’s death. The Nebraska senator expressed outrage over the weekend, saying that “heads must roll” over Epstein’s apparent suicide.

    “The Department of Justice failed, and today Jeffrey Epstein’s co-conspirators think they might have just gotten one last sweetheart deal,” Sasse wrote in a separate letter.

    Barr has said that the Justice Department would investigate “serious irregularities” at the Metropolitan Correctional Center where Epstein died.

    1. By all appearances, Acota’s a soulless careerist who wasn’t doing anyone good in his position except vested interests. It bothers me he received any kind of appointment.

      1. Whether Accosta made mistakes regarding Epstein or not, the obvious corruption and the major obstacles to prosecution are the consequence of the deal that Epstein received with the state of Florida.

        Once Florida essentially slapped Epstein on the wrists for very serious crimes, the USAG would have significant difficulty prosecuting anything covered by the Florida Deal.

        You can argue that Accosta should have done better.

        I for one do NOT want prosecutors, local, state or Federal getting creative with the law.

        None of us should have to face prosecution by both federal and state prosecutors over the same acts.

        If you beleive as appears to be true that Epstein got a deal from Florida that he should not have gotten – then the role of the federal government should be to investigate state prosecutors for corruption.

    2. NB, Sasse is a lapsed history professor, not a lawyer. There may be impediments to ripping anything up of which he’s unaware and unappreciative.

      That agreement would, if I’m not mistaken, apply only to federal prosecutors, not state prosecutors.

  3. Here’s the surveillance video of Michael Brown robbing a store with his Blood Gang homies. Watch Mike grab store clerk’s neck @ the 1:29 mark of video. At 6ft 4” and weighing 300lbs, what do you think as JT often asks?

    1. i think warren and harris are now guaranteed to lose. sleepy joe won’t make the same mistake

      oh, what do i think about the theft and aggravated assault? i think of the movie Taxi Driver

    2. two possible explanations in light of NYT/ alternative facts and Chris “Fredo” Cuomo

      1. the market owner was a racist for trying to prevent Brown from stealing items. Call it profiling and refusing reparations

      2. It was Trump’s fault

  4. Warren and the other one both are examples of existing race problems in America. A white male cannot work in any area where black people live or walk the streets. Why? Because they will be accused by racists of being racists if they act to protect the public from any black or brown or hispanic or japanese or chinese criminal.
    So. If you are a white person and wish to be a law enforcement officer do not do so in America. Go to South Africa. You will get a fairer treatment.

    Warren cannot win a national election. Blather, blather bo bather, Warren is a co fatter.

  5. Here’s Sen. Elizabeth Warren. In 2016

    ‘Nasty Women’ Will Vote Trump Out of Their Lives Forever

    Unfortunately “Sleepy” Joe Biden has also been targeted

  6. Jonathan Turley: “The non-profit website factcheck.org and the Washington Post have both chastised Warren and Harris for their statements.”

    Careful, JT. Some of your readers/commenters take issue with both of these sites.

    1. Anonymous – even a broken clock is right twice a day. Although, factcheck.org and the Washington Post would not agree with that statement.

    2. We do. Glenn Reynolds has for years been building a case that Kessler’s an extension of the DNC press office. Liawatha and Shamala told a lie so brazen that even Kessler and Snopes cannot be bothered to attempt to cover for them.

  7. The characterization of Darren Wilson as a murderer by Harris and Warren is a pathetic attempt to polarize the nation and win support from the African American constituency. Thankfully, some of your readers see through this “reckless disregard for the truth.” It’s appalling! As for the question of whether Darren Wilson May have a claim for defamation, I’m not sure whether New York Times v. Sullivan would apply. If it does, it might not be too difficult to establish “actual malice.” Anne’s analysis is spot on.

  8. Both Warren and Harris are experienced attorneys. Yet their statements contradict Obama’s DOJ report. Black Americans like me who count on police to defend us both in govt housing projects where I live with extremely high rates of black on black violent crimes and non-housing projects, have no sympathy for Michael Brown. At 6’4” and 300#, robbing a local market in a black neighborhood (!!!) and then charging a police officer monitoring that same black neighborhood to benefit us, the residents, reflect one truth: Warren and Harris are dishonest. Black Americans fearing thugs like Brown have no remorse for his death. I should know: I live in a govt housing project in a largely Black city, 60% African American

    Rid our cities of thugs like Michael Brown by any means necessary.
    Warren and Harris are racists for thinking Blacks like me are stupid. We are not

    1. Yours is a perspective I hear from my clients and uniformly ignored by the national media. Thanks, Anne, for the reality check.

    2. Anne, one of the commenters here is going to take issue with your post. His screen name is enigmaman (or something like that), and everything, and I do mean EVERYTHING is all about race in his woe is me world.

  9. Once a meme takes root in the public, it’s almost impossible to correct. I’d bet if you asked many on the left about Ferguson you would get the same as retold by Harris and Warren. I don’t think they are purposefully lying, they are simply repeating what is believed by ever single person they have contact with.

  10. Well hey, OJ was acquitted and I have no issues calling him a murderer. And No, I’m not racist. I’m affiliated with the Center for Healing of Racism in Houston and honor the value of each person. I have noticed however; that in some situations having lots of money/power gives some folks more value in our justice system.

    1. The only ‘power’ OJ Simpson ever had was the sort that derives from celebrity, which is to say he got favors from people who thought his presence good for business or who are starf**ckers by nature. So, tickets to sporting events and move to the head of the queue in the restaurant waiting area.

      The money he had allowed him to hire lawyers clever enough to muddy the waters with a jury largely composed of people who were pleased to be snookered (see Harold Rothwax for a precis of the thesis the jury implicitly accepted). OJ’s dream team had some assistance from the prosecutor (Steven Brill on Marcia Clark: “she spent days questioning witnesses when she should have taken an hour” and note she put the tainted Mark Fuhrman on the stand rather than his partner, Brad Roberts) and the Judge (he of the hundreds of sidebar conferences; a critic offered his mode was more akin to that of a group therapy maven than an ordinary judge).

    2. @jsteensrud

      Sure OJ is a murderer but I can tell you why he was acquitted and that is because of the jury’ makeup. The dirty secret is that blacks do not like convicting black defendants especially if whitey is on the other side.

      And I say that from personal experience as an attorney.

      An inconvenient, “hate fact” but often true nonetheless.

      antonio

    3. This is not even a case that went to trial. It was so open and shut that avowed “race man” ERIC Holder, either did not seek, or could not get a Grand jury to return an indictment.
      All of the forensics and eye witness statements under oath, agreed that Brown was the attacker.
      The best Obama and Holder could do is remain silent until after the elections while black owned businesses were burned out.

  11. This is infuriating. The turmoil created by this case which was heavily investigated was very harmful locally and nationally. The city has taken great pains to recover. To casually weigh in at this point is reckless and basically shows a Trump like exploitation for minimal political gain

    1. No, it hasn’t taken pains. The local governments have given up trying to keep order in Ferguson and it’s decaying into a suburban slum like Harvey, Illinois.

      1. ah yes we know harvey. this is in chicagoland

        run the demographics and you will find racist facts like antonio said

  12. I think they are right – Officer Wilson unnecessarily and probably unlawfully shot and killed Michael Brown. Unfortunately, we lacked a body worn camera to clarify the incident. Also, the way the law is written it would have been impossible to convict him. That said, it is deeply ironic for Kamala Harris to take that view when her office as DA and AG never did.

    1. I think they are right – Officer Wilson unnecessarily and probably unlawfully shot and killed Michael Brown.

      You’re not doing much thinking. Two autopsy reports, one produced by an outside pathologist engaged by Michael Brown’s family, corroborated Wilson’s account of the sequence of events.

      Again, Michael Brown committed a strong-arm theft at a convenience store then with his pal Dorian Johnson sauntered down the middle of a commercial street as if he owned it, and then had a neuralgic reaction to a local police officer when said officer told him to use the sidewalk and quit blocking traffic. He attacks the man, tries to take his duty gun away from him, then runs away, then turns around and charges him and continues charging even as the officer puts bullets in his arm and deltoid. You want to avoid getting a bullet in your head, you don’t do these things. It works for most of us.

        1. Oh yes he did and he was caught on security tape doing it. No clue why you aspire to be a fish shot in a barrel.

        2. You are entitled to you own opinion but not your own set of facts. It’s on video that he committed a strong arm robbery/theft and assaulted the store clerk.

      1. you wrestle a cop for his gun, it’s guaranteed you get shot and there is no a department in the nation that will fail to support the cop. nor any sane population of citizens

    2. @david

      Yea, it’s ok to intimidate and rob a storekeeper and grab a police officer’s weapon afterwards.

      Being a good, virtue signaling liberal will not protect you when a dindu (or jihadi) comes calling.

      I hope you have a close, personal encounter with diversity soon.

      But hey, at least you’re a good progressive, right?

      antonio

  13. The crooked deal between the judiciary and the press has been that the latter provide no real scrutiny of the former (and pretend they’re Plato’s philosopher-kings) and the former pretend that principles of free speech make it nearly impossible for the latter to face tort liability for defamatory statements. Howard Hunt said after an unfortunate experience with a defamation suit that he’d never involve himself in another one no matter what the provocation. It would be agreeable if Wilson ended up owning their homes, but we live in clown world where such justice is never to be found.

    It’s just another indicator that Liawatha and Shamala are unfit to hold a position of public trust, and they’re not the only ones. As we speak, there are at the outside five Democratic candidates who are likely to be competitive next year: Joe Bidet, Booty-gig, Liawatha, Shamala, and Bernie Sanders. It’s an indicator of the poverty of the Democratic Party that their best shot is a 78 year old man who first enrolled as a Democrat just four years ago, whose trade ‘ere entering electoral politics was to make rent with whatever wage-work he could cadge, and whose only child is a ba*!ard he sired with a girlfriend when he was past 30.

  14. If Warren and Harris are right in saying Michael Brown was murdered, yet Obama’s Justice Dept. investigation cleared Off. Darren Wilson of murder, the implication is that Obama, Holder et al. perpetrated a coverup. Do Warren and Harris really want to say that Obama committed a coverup?

    1. I wish people would go into the legal explanation before the political. The law on the use of force by police officers makes it really hard to prosecute and harder still to convict. With conflicting and accounts and no camera footage that’s even harder. It is possible to believe that Michael Brown was unlawfully killed by Officer Wilson without believing there is some sort of conspiracy and cover up.

      1. David:
        It’s possible to believe in fairies, too, but it takes suspending reality and all other forms of legal proof. What is proven is that Brown, after strongarming a clerk out of cigarillos and attempting to grab an officer’s gun, turned and aggressively charged the office with his 300 lb frame and was shot to death during the charge. A justifiable use of lethal force if ever there was or as one black witness put it “I would have shot him a lot sooner.”Do you know anything about the case?

        1. What he knows about the case is that a member of a group partisan Democrats fancy have aristocratic prerogatives was shot to death by a deplorable. The decay of liberal thought is such that the only thing that matters to them is the identity of the parties. They’ve lost the ability to formulate common standards of behavior.

          1. Sure TIA, tribal loyalty is cowardly only visible on the right, as you and this board demonstrated daily.

            Holder cleared Wilson, but I guess Warren and Sanders didn’t get the memo.

            1. “Holder cleared Wilson, but I guess Warren and Sanders didn’t get the memo.”
              ********************
              They got it with the rest of America. It was not expedient for them in their race-baiting election strategy. Somehow stirring up racial animus is seen by them and their handlers as good politics. I only hope their monster gets them before it gets us.

              1. The scary thing is that juries are made up of people that can’t decipher the difference between truth and fiction.

                1. sometimes, but not usually. OJ was an outlier. most juries are not that bedazzled and starstruck and overwhelmed

                  1. Kurtz, I served on a split jury. It scared me to think that a person’s life could depend on common sense when half the jurors lacked any such capacity. The case should never have come to trial and that was later admitted by the judge who said he was going to vacate any decision to convict.

              2. i believe this incident was so bad a lot of black people are perfectly clear the shooting was justified.

                OJ and Rodney King were examples of black groupthink, Many BLM projects aim at that, in order to stimulate riots that will increase their extortion power to force “donations.”

                in this case, there were plenty of black people who were clear on what this giant fool did and how he got what he had coming when he tried to wrestle the cop for his gun

                BLM is a criminal racketeering organization that commits fraud and extortion for money donations, employing hooldums to riot. get RICO going on them

              3. mespo: “Somehow stirring up racial animus is seen by them and their handlers as good politics….”

                Ironic coming form Trump supporters.

                Yes, Warren and Harris (not Sanders as I mistakenly posted) were pandering, but unlike Trump and his bad Mexicans, did not invent and promote this BS meme onto the national consciousness..

                1. That there are rotten characters among Mexicans living in the U.S. is a social truth. Democrats are enraged to have it acknowledged. What Warren and Harris said is a discrete lie about a discrete incident. And the motives uttering that lie were ignoble.

                  1. we all know a lot of wonderful mexicans. since there are so many in the US it’s nearly impossible not to know some.

                    it’s the 15% locked up in federal prisons that are the not nice ones I guess
                    one wonders about the state populations….. any statistics experts want to pull those numbers for us? hint, hint

    2. n.i.Silver,
      It’s been noted that the “progressive” Democratic candidates have been running against the Obama-Biden Administration.
      Those “progressives” may not have a problem going after the Obama- Holder decision that federal charges were not justified.

    3. Why not? They already allege he was complicit in Russia’s interference in the 2016 election.
      Remember, there is no honor among thieves and politicians.

    4. they are perfectly willing to sling mud on “obama’s legacy” if it will take down sleepy joe

      except this mudslinging was them throwing poo on their own faces

      they are despicable incompetent challenges. joe can just sit back on this one and let them selfdestruct

    1. I would check the statutes in the state, but I think Wilson might have a good chance against. At worst he is a limited public figure.

      1. George Zimmerman’s case was thrown out by a court in Florida even though he’s not a public figure at all except in the term-of-art sense that reporters and editors have published his name and even though an NBC affiliate quite deliberately cropped a recording of his conversation with a dispatcher in a way intended to impugn his motives and injure his reputation. If we didn’t live in clown world, there are a mess of people employed by that NBC affliate whose home equity would now be the property of Zimmerman and his lawyers. We live in clown world, so people in the media have a license to lie.

      2. I don’t think he’s any sort of public figure. He was thrust into the headlines and didn’t seek it.

        1. mespo – I know that some on the SC want to take a look at Sullivan. This would be a good case. I have been following a case in the anime industry where the defendants are trying to claim the plaintiff is public figure. He is soooo public that the defense keeps mispronouncing his name. 😉

          1. Paul:

            NYT v. Sullivan is a flawed case. In attempting to protect the First Amendment SCOTUS immunized the whackadoole press from any liability. “Actual malice” or “reckless disregard” are impossible standards to prove as they involve getting into the head of the defendant in a civil case and SCOTUS knows it. A better test for liability of public figures would be negligence proven by a clear and convincing standard of proof which is greater than the more commonly known preponderance standard. That pays homage to the Constitution yet holds these ink throwers to task. Ann Coulter, of whom I am no fan, lays it out the best in her critique of Fed Judge Bertelsman’s decision dismissing Kentuck teen and wrongfully accused bigot, Nick Sandman’s, defamation claim against the WaPo:

            https://www.breitbart.com/politics/2019/07/31/ann-coulter-court-to-the-washington-post-dont-try-too-hard-to-get-it-right/

            Here’s the money shot:

            “The judge acts as if the Post was absolutely required to write the story, and reporters were within their rights to use their own impressions — even if they were wrong — with no obligation to check the facts, even to the point of turning an innocent teenager into a worldwide object of hate.

            You probably want to know more about the judge, so here’s a report I’ve improvised:

            Judge Bertelsman smirked [subjective term] as he and lawyers for the Post surrounded the Sandmann family [opinion] and taunted them [subjective term] for their Catholic faith [someone told me that]. (FN-1.)

            A Carter appointee and avid collector of child pornography [subjective term], Judge Bertelsman is well-known as a white supremacist [opinion]. (FN-2.)

            In previous rulings, Judge Bertelsman has endorsed snuff films [subjective term], trafficking in human body parts [someone told me that] (FN-3) and dumping industrial waste [subjective term] into pristine rivers and lakes. (FN-4.)

            Bertelsman is a draft dodger [opinion] and has been accused of cheating [subjective term] on his bar exam. (FN-5.)

            NOTE: The part of this column giving the judge’s biography was written in haste, so I didn’t have time for fact checking. However, even assuming arguendo that the above statements were “about” Judge Bertelsman, I was careful to keep all assertions within legal realm of “opinion,” “subjectivity” and “things people told me.”

            I did a great job. It’s legally unassailable.”

            1. i totally agree mespo thank you for the explanation

              it should be drastically “limited” so that small people can limit the power of the mass media to smear them with impunity

            2. Sandman and the Covington boys were wrongly slandered and were clearly the most admirable group of the 3 at the Memorial that day. However, the Wa Post – like many media – reported on a privately posted video of an incident on public property and an interview with a first person witness – the Indian j..koff. When another private video was posted 2 days later which tended to exonerate the boys, the Post reported on it as well and it’s implications. The partisan and emotional reaction was mostly unfair to the boys and especially Sandman, but eventually rightly turned against the Indian j..koff. By that time, many had stopped paying attention, and with the MAGA hats, filed it under “bad boys disrespect elder native American”. They were wrong. Unless we don’t want our media to report on this sort of incident without being sued, I don;t see what the Post would do differently. It’s not that unusual for the meme to stick and the eventually clarified truth to be ignored by the uh ….. ignorant (see for example references to Warren’s supposed leaning on a native American background to advance by some ignorant posters here).

              1. Anon1:
                “Unless we don’t want our media to report on this sort of incident without being sued, I don;t see what the Post would do differently.”
                ***********************
                Look either way somebody gets a windfall for incompetence. If you immunize the WaPo, then there are effectively no restraints on the press mischief and the First Amendment is borne on the back of the victims. If you allow run-of-the-mill tort suits, the speech stoppers win and we all lose. The best course is through the middle. Holding boobs like the writers at WaPo accountable for hasty smears and breathtaking stupidity on a clear and convincing standard will only result in less smears and less breathtaking stupidity. Do we really need more defamation? What did we do before NYT v. Sullivan? Sure it could have a chilling effect on good reporters but a little introspection and more time for fact-checking would be a good thing. I’m as close to an absolutist on First Amendment rights as many here but everything has a gulp limit.

                PS, Oh and thanks for the stimulating intellectual discussion — it’s rare with us but appreciated.

            3. mespo – I was particularly taken by FN-3. It was compelling and I am sure the Judge is appreciative of re-writing his biography.

          2. Sullivan was a 5-4 decision – with Brennan as the swing vote.

            What most are unfamiliar with is that the dissent sought to go farther and pretty much eliminate defamation – atleast for publishers.

            That is NOT an inherently bad idea.

            One of the problems with slander, libel and defamation, is that because we falsely beleive that people can be held accountable for lying, we are more prone to beleive it when someone makes these statements.

            If you make it clear that the law does not care a whit about the truth of falsity of such statements, it is arguable that people will realize what has always been actually true – that each of us is responsible for weighing the truth of allegations personally.

            While I think the Sandman case was quite obviously wrongly decided based on current law,

            Ultimately I do not think the right choice is to punish WaPo etc through the courts.

            The right choice is to accept that WaPo is just badly investigated oppinions – not real journalism,
            and that they lack credibility and to seek other sources for accurate information.

            1. John Say:

              “Sullivan was a 5-4 decision – with Brennan as the swing vote.

              What most are unfamiliar with is that the dissent sought to go farther and pretty much eliminate defamation – atleast for publisher.”
              ****************************

              You’re right about the dissent being more rabidly protective than the majority. But that was 1964 and things, including credibility of the press, has changed dramatically. Now we have an advocacy — some would say a tabloid — press for whom the whole truth is an inconvenience. That might get the current SCOTUS thinking about the press running rough-shod over public figures and dissuading them from becoming public in the first place. The most competent people I know — like the most competent lawyers — would never consider a run for public office given the jungle out there. It’s also the reason our judges aren’t the cream of the legal profession as the most competent once aspired to be. They tend to be politically active, government lawyers or big firm types who are groomed for the job.

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