Adrees Latif/Reuters

The grand jury's decision on Monday means Ferguson Police officer Darren Wilson will not face criminal charges in the death of 18-year-old Michael Brown.

At roughly 8:25 p.m. Central time Monday, St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Bob McCulloch announced the grand jury's decision in its investigation into the shooting death of 18-year-old Michael Brown at the hands of Ferguson Police Department officer Darren Wilson. The grand jury decided not to indict Wilson.

"The duty of the grand jury is to separate fact from fiction," said McCullough.

The U.S. Department of Justice could still bring criminal charges against the Ferguson Police Department, and the Civil Rights Division is also investigating the shooting.

Even before the decision was announced, some were preparing for violence. One 26-year-old woman reportedly even shot herself—accidentally, and fatally—with the firearm that she had said made her "ready for Ferguson." Police, bearing the heavy armor and that has been the subject of much scrutiny since the August 9 shooting and subsequent demonstrations, erected barricades around the justice center where the decision was delivered.

Earlier, protesters, anticipating the announcement, could only wait. Some tossed around a football, according to a report from the ground.

Missouri Governor Jay Nixon met with ministers in Ferguson, Missouri, on Monday afternoon. St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar took counsel with the county prosecutor. Schools in Ferguson remain closed. The community—the nation—braced for an eruption.

Brown's family released a statement calling for four-and-a-half minutes of silence after the grand jury's decision was announced: a minute for every hour that Michael Brown's body lay on the ground.

"We have no information that would cause us to tell people not to do anything that they would normally do, go to work or go to school," St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay told reporters earlier in the day. "But if something does happen, then we are prepared to handle it."

The grand jury was not empaneled to decide the guilt or innocence of Wilson, who says that he shot Brown in self defense. The grand jury was only tasked with deciding whether criminal charges were to be brought against Wilson.

This case has been presented to the grand jury over the course of the last three months, much longer than is typical. An Associated Press report explains that this grand jury is unusual for many reasons, including the number of witnesses and the lack of a specific charge against Wilson.

Ongoing protests have kept all eyes on Ferguson since the August 9 shooting of Brown. Now, the conflict in Ferguson is a national issue. The national conversation is bound to follow tonight. It remains to be seen whether it will be met by a national crisis.

About the Author

Most Popular

  1. Environment

    A 13,235-Mile Road Trip for 70-Degree Weather Every Day

    This year-long journey across the U.S. keeps you at consistent high temperatures.

  2. Design

    How I. M. Pei Shaped the Modern City

    The architect, who died yesterday at the age of 102, designed iconic modern buildings on prominent sites around the world. Here are some that delight and confound CityLab.

  3. Tourists walk along the High Line in Manhattan, New York City
    Life

    The Beauty Premium: How Urban Beauty Affects Cities’ Economic Growth

    A study finds that the more beautiful a city is, the more successful it is at attracting jobs and new residents, including highly educated and affluent ones.

  4. A photo of construction cranes and tall buildings in downtown Los Angeles.
    Equity

    ‘Build More Housing’ Is No Match for Inequality

    A new analysis finds that liberalizing zoning rules and building more won’t solve the urban affordability crisis, and could exacerbate it.  

  5. An artist's rendering of a space colony, with farms, a university campus, an elevated train track, and skyscrapers in the background.
    Design

    Jeff Bezos Dreams of a 1970s Future

    If the sci-fi space cities of Bezos’s Blue Origin look familiar, it’s because they’re derived from the work of his college professor, the late physicist Gerard O’Neill.