Who says the cops in St. Louis don’t learn how to play the media? Sure, they may have arrested reporters and gotten nailed on video dismantling equipment after they gassed them, but that was then. This is now:
Some of the physical evidence — including blood spatter analysis, shell casings and ballistics tests — also supports Wilson’s account of the shooting, The Post’s sources said, which casts Brown as an aggressor who threatened the officer’s life. The sources spoke on the condition of anonymity because they are prohibited from publicly discussing the case.
See that last sentence? These bits, together with Wilson’s accounts, come from grand jury leaks. The grand jury operates in secrecy, so that means they get to selectively spill what serves their interests and maintain anonymity so they are immune from responsibility for violating grand jury secrecy. Except,
as former St. Louis County police chief Tim Fitch has said in interviews that there can be benefits to leaks. “It’s not a surprise to people” when a decision is announced, he said.
And this was part of a carefully-scripted scheme.
Former St. Louis County Police Chief Tim Fitch says we can expect to see more leaks of information in the Michael Brown case and that the New York Times piece over the weekend about a struggle leading up to the shooting death of the 18-year-old was coordinated.
Fitch said these coordinated leaks of information are allowed by the feds and that it is a way to “start getting some of the facts out there to kind of let people down slowly,” according to KMOX. Fitch called this type of information “phase two,” saying that phase one was Eric Holder‘s announcement that the feds would do a complete review of the Ferguson Police Department and take over.
Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. has told Justice Department lawyers that he is “exasperated” with leaks emerging from the grand jury involved in investigating the fatal shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown, according to a Justice official.
Holder referred to the leaks as a “selective flow of information,” and characterized them as “inappropriate and troubling.”
Naturally, everyone associated with the presentment denies being the leaker, but that would certainly be the case. What’s the point of being an anonymous source if not to deny leaking?
All of this serves two purposes. First, through the selective leaking of information about Darren Wilson’s “testimony,” thus saving Wilson from having to actually speak for himself and be subject to question or challenge, they get the preferred narrative out there without any risk of question, while simultaneously maintaining plausible deniability should some claim blow up in his face.
But as Tim Finch notes, it paves the way for the let down that will come when the grand jury “no true bills” the case. Suck some of the air out of the protests now, and there won’t be much left later. This is similarly part of the design of the grand jury presentment taking months rather than hours, as would ordinarily be the case. Time, time, time is on their side, yes it is.
The question that remains unanswered is whether these shenanigans will suffice to calm the waters and take the wind out of the Ferguson protesters’ sails. Certainly, it will feed the cynics’ and conspiracy theorists’ beliefs, but they can’t be stopped no matter what. Will it be sufficient to make the vast swathe of middle America sufficiently comfortable that they can sleep peacefully at night again, knowing that their protectors are the good guys and don’t shoot down 18-year-old black kids in the street for kicks?
There are few who are engaged in the system who thought Darren Wilson would be indicted. The nature of the presentment, all the evidence, as prosecutor and dear friend to police, Robert McCulloch, promised, made that clear from the outset. Prosecutors who want to indict present the evidence in support of an indictment, not the evidence that muddies the waters. Prosecutors who want to indict do so now, not months from now. The grand jury isn’t a trial, but a presentation to demonstrate that there is sufficient evidence to go to trial. That didn’t happen here.
As Sol Wachtler famously noted, if a prosecutor so desired, he could indict a ham sandwich. The whole grand jury as protector of the people from baseless prosecution thing never worked out as well as hoped. Get over it.
So when the headline reads that the Darren Wilson grand jury failed to indict, no one will be surprised, and there will be plenty of information to justify and explain why the evidence just wasn’t there. Lawprofs, denominated experts notwithstanding their never having tried a case, will opine about the relative value of the proof of guilt, and conclude that the grand jury had no other choice.
And the nice folks of Ferguson, Missouri, and young black men around the country, will lower their heads, unpersuaded, perhaps even more cynical than ever, and wonder if and when it will be their turn to be on the wrong end of a cop’s gun.
But the good news is that the rest of us, living in nice, white middle class communities, can bask in the knowledge that system worked and stop feeling badly about how police behave. There’s nothing better than a good night’s sleep.