POLITICS

Michael Brown Grand Jury Process 'Should Be Indicted,' Family Lawyer Says

WASHINGTON -- Lawyers and supporters of Michael Brown's family charged Tuesday that the process that left Brown's killer facing no charges "should be indicted" itself. And while prosecutors wouldn't agree, they did admit in transcripts that the grand jury proceeding that brought no indictments against Ferguson, Missouri, Police Officer Darren Wilson was extremely unusual.

"Typically a grand jury will hear a whole case in a matter of 15 minutes, but that's not the case here," a St. Louis County prosecutor, Kathy Alizadeh, told grand jurors during their second meeting, in a Sept. 3 session.

She explained that the room they were in was hot and crowded, and not set up well, because the effort going into helping them decide whether to indict Wilson was unprecedented. "There [are] probably more people in this room than ever before," Alizadeh told the jurors.

She also explained that, unlike in a normal case where prosecutors have laid charges against a defendant that jurors can evaluate based on evidence, prosecutors would instead present witnesses to the jurors in a careful order and explain statutes relevant to murder and self-defense so the jurors could decide on charges.

"We're putting on witnesses in a certain order because we're trying to make this easier for you to digest and understand the evidence as it comes in because unlike a trial, I'm not making an opening statement," Alizadeh said. "I can't outline for you what all the evidence is. In a trial, you know, a jury gets to hear that, that's not going to happen here."

The point of the careful approach was to make sure it was beyond reproach, and jurors understood what prosecutors were showing them, she said.

"There is no way after this whole process is over that anybody is going to say we rushed anything," Alizadeh said.

Indeed, Brown supporters did not complain the process was rushed -- they complained it was bizarre, and inherently flawed because in their eyes prosecutors seemed more interested in clearing Wilson than putting him in jail.

"The prosecutor is supposed to prosecute, not be the defense attorney for the person we're sitting in judgment of," Brown family lawyer Benjamin Crump said at a Tuesday news conference with the Rev. Al Sharpton in Missouri.

Sharpton added that St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Robert McCulloch's strange hourlong briefing to reporters on Monday night only showed that prosecution was not his intent.

"I've never seen a prosecutor hold a press conference to discredit the victim, where he went out of his way to go point by point in discrediting Michael Brown Jr., who could not defend himself," Sharpton said.

"Have you ever heard a prosecutor go in a press conference to explain to the press why the one that did the killing is not going to trial, but the victim is guilty of several things that no one has established?" Sharpton added. "Then, to go further than that, he takes his time to methodically try and discredit the witnesses -- witnesses that will still be needed going forward in the ongoing federal investigation and civil proceedings."

Both Crump and Sharpton said the process showed why it should have been given over to federal authorities entirely.

"This process is broken. The process should be indicted," Crump said.

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