Darren Wilson's Pre-Prosecution Report: It's Good to be a Police Officer

An important part of the Darren Wilson pre-prosecution investigation is not what it found, but that it happened at all.


Former federal prosecutor Ken White at the great Popehat blog points out the most interesting aspect of the pre-prosecution investigation into whether a legitimate case could be made to prosecute Darren Wilson for his shooting and killing Michael Brown in Ferguson.

White agrees with the specifics of the conclusion of the 86-page report: that it would be hard for the state to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt if it took Wilson to trial, and that the defense in such a case would likely have a better time of it than the prosecution.

But that's not the end of what we can learn from this report, says White from the perspective of his own experience. We can learn from how unusual this thorough pre-prosecution investigation was:

Most investigations don't involve rigorous examination of the credibility of the prosecution's witnesses. Most investigations don't involve painstaking consideration of the defendant's potential defenses. Often investigators don't even talk to potential defense witnesses, and if they do, don't follow up on leads they offer. Most investigations don't carefully weigh potentially incriminating and potentially exculpatory scientific evidence. If an explanation of the flaws in a case requires footnotes, you shouldn't expect it to deter prosecution.

Instead, I'm more used to the prosecution assuming their witnesses are truthful, even if they are proven liars. I'm more used to contrary evidence being cynicallydisregarded. I'm more used to participants in the system stubbornly presuming guilt to the bitter end. I'm more used to prosecutors disregarding potentially exculpatory evidence that they think isn't "material." ….

Why is this case different? It's different because Darren Wilson is a cop. Cops get special rights and privileges and breaks the rest of us don't. Cops get an extremely generous and lenient benefit of the doubt from juries. Nearly every segment of the criminal justice system operates to treat cops more favorably than the rest of us…..

when you're a black guy who shoots a white law enforcement officer in self-defense, they don't write an 86-page memo with 28 footnotes about it. They just prosecute you.