USA TODAY, November 24, 2014
By Yamiche Alcindor
ST. LOUIS – As the world discussed the implications of Michael Brown’s death, his mother sat alone in a plush hotel room full of people, silent, stoic and staring at her phone as she awaited word from the grand jury.
When the word came, attorney Benjamin Crump fielded the phone call. “The jury was not inclined to indict on any charges,” he said.
Lesley McSpadden, Brown’s mother, screamed and sobbed.
After months of press conferences and speeches and testimony before the United Nations, Lesley McSpadden now had few words. A button pinned to her chest read “Indict Now.” The white knit hat with photo of her son pulled tight on her head called for “Justice for Mike Brown.”
Minutes before, she had watched quietly as a TV anchor recounted the details of her son’s death, a litany she had heard hundreds of times. Brown died Aug. 9, after he was shot by Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson, 28. A prosecutor convened a grand jury Aug. 20 to hear evidence in the case.
At issue is how Brown died. Police say Brown struggled with Wilson inside his police car, then reached for Wilson’s weapon. Brown’s family and some witnesses say Wilson killed Brown as he raised his hands in surrender.
As the announcement time drew closer, McSpadden joined hands with her family to pray.
“I know God will prevail. We know it’s in God’s hands,” she said. Her head bowed, McSpadden wept.
“God will have justice no matter what,” Crump said.
The call from Prosecuting Attorney Robert McCulloch’s office came at 7:50 p.m. CT. Crump nodded sadly as he listened. A few seconds later, he delivered the news. McCulloch, he said, would be willing to meet with her. McSpadden jumped to her feet and wailed.
“I do want to meet with him right now,” McSpadden screamed. “What do you mean no indictment?!”
She ran from the room with her husband and family members running after her.
“I have to explain to Michael Brown’s parents why the system didn’t work for them,” Crump said. “We believe the justice system failed once again. If we don’t change the system, we are going to keep seeing this happen on a weekly basis.”
Crump said the family still has hope that a federal civil rights investigation will hold the officer and the police department accountable. They will also consider filing a civil wrongful death lawsuit, he said.
“The family felt the whole process was completely unfair to them,” he said. “Police officers are not held accountable when they kill young people of color.”
The Brown family in a written statement expressed disappointment, but made a plea for peaceful protests.
“Answering violence with violence is not the appropriate reaction,” the statement said. “Let’s not just make noise. Let’s make a difference.
The family called on protesters instead to work toward requiring police officers to wear body cameras.
“We are profoundly disappointed that the killer of our child will not face the consequence of his actions,” the statement said. “While we understand that many others share our pain, we ask that you channel your frustration in ways that will make a positive change. We need to work together to fix the system that allowed this to happen. “