Robert McCulloch, the prosecuting attorney for St. Louis County, who lambasted Gov. Jay Nixon (D-Mo.) for relieving the Ferguson Police Department of duty during ongoing protests after a violent night last Wednesday, has been in office since 1991 and has "faced controversy for decades," the St. Louis Post-Dispatch noted in an article reviewing his career. Early on he faced the responsibility of deciding whether to prosecute two undercover cops who shot and killed two men during an investigation. The Post-Dispatch reports:
The officers said the suspects, who had prior felony convictions for drug and assault offenses, tried to escape arrest and then drove toward the officers.
A subsequent federal investigation showed that the men were unarmed and that their car had not moved forward when the officers fired 21 shots and killed the suspects, Earl Murray and Ronald Beasley. The probe, however, also concluded that because the officers feared for their safety, the shootings were justified.
McCulloch didn't prosecute the officers. He specifically drew the ire of defense lawyers and protesters, who had been holding demonstrations and threatened to block Highway 40, when he said of Murray and Beasley, "These guys were bums."
McCulloch defended his comments, complaining the public and media were trying to "vilify" the cops, who shot and killed two alleged drug dealers and appeared to lie about the circumstances. Because they were drug dealers, McCulloch insinuated, they deserved to die.
That shooting happened in 1991 in St. Louis but it's a familiar pattern for some of the shootings authorities rule justified around the country to this day. As forensics and video technology improve, it becomes harder for fabricated stories to hold up to muster. Nevertheless, cops continue to be almost universally cleared of wrong-doing in fatal shootings.
Most infamously McCulloch wanted to prosecute Axl Rose for a riot at a Guns'n'Roses show in Riverport. The Post-Dispatch's whole article is worth a read here. McCulloch, a Democrat, is running unopposed in November. The county executive and other county officers are also up for re-election in November; it'll be interesting to see how many of them are re-elected, and how many else might be running unopposed in the heavily Democrat St. Louis County.