WASHINGTON -- The decisions of two grand juries not to indict the police officers responsible for the deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner have sparked emotional reactions and protests throughout the country.
But for those who have toiled in the criminal justice system -- prosecuting cases involving police shootings and representing victims in civil and criminal suits -- the surprising thing, in many respects, is that people are surprised at all.
“It is not more often than not” that a police officer won’t get indicted in cases like this, said Doug Sparks, a prominent civil attorney who has tried cases of police brutality. “I would say it is never.”
In the latest episode of "Drinking and Talking," Sparks, along with Donald Temple, a civil rights attorney and former chairman of the D.C. Civilian Complaint Review Board, offered insiders' perspectives on why this is the case and what other options families have for pursuing justice.
Together with Jamelle Bouie, a staff writer at Slate, and Jason Cherkis, a reporter with The Huffington Post, they also dove deep into the Brown and Garner cases, offering telling new insights into the dubious ways in which the Brown case was handled. And they helped discern why the legal system appears so rigidly beneficial toward the police.
“They’re the Harlem Globetrotters,” said Cherkis. “They don’t lose.”
Watch the video above. Here's an index of key moments in the discussion:
0:00 -- What would it take to indict a cop?
4:30 -- What's the purpose of the grand jury system?
6:55 -- Ferguson: What the police did on day one.
11:53 -- Ferguson testimony: The inconsistencies and the rest.
17:55 -- Ferguson: What happened to the chain of custody?
21:16 -- Eric Garner: Video evidence and its limitations.
29:15 -- Part of the playbook: Smearing the victim.
32:51 -- What happens in a civil case?
40:27 -- A historical perspective on police killings.
Listen to the audio of the show below: