Ferguson Grand Jury Seen as Not Finishing Until November

The grand jury probing a Ferguson, Missouri, police officer’s shooting of an unarmed black teenager, won’t finish until November, the chief county prosecutor said.

The Aug. 9 killing of Michael Brown, 18, by white officer Darren Wilson sparked days of riots and looting in the municipality north of St. Louis.

St. Louis County grand jurors began hearing evidence last month. The shooting also led to the opening of a separate U.S. Justice Department investigation into the Ferguson police force.

County Prosecuting Attorney Bob McCulloch, who previously said the panel would finish its review in October, said in a phone interview today that the volume of evidence may prevent it from doing so until mid-November.

McCulloch called the case unique in his 24 years’ experience as chief prosecutor.

“Normally we will bring in the investigator who will summarize what witnesses said,” he said. “In this case, every witness is being heard” because of the intense public interest, McCulloch said.

Some witnesses’ testimony differs from their earlier accounts, he said, and some testimony makes it necessary to call more witnesses.

Two assistant prosecutors, one white and one black, are presenting the evidence, he said. If a charge is returned, those lawyers will take the case to trial.

Panel’s Options

The grand jury, working behind closed doors, has the option of indicting the officer for first-degree murder, second-degree murder, voluntary manslaughter or involuntary manslaughter, or of bringing no charge at all, McCulloch said.

An indictment requires the approval of nine of its 12 members. The panel is composed of nine whites and three blacks. Their ages and places of residence haven’t been disclosed.

St. Louis County, which doesn’t include the city of St. Louis, is 70 percent white. Ferguson is about 12 miles northwest of St. Louis by car.

If no indictment is issued, the evidence presented to the grand jury will be made public, McCulloch said.

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