Professor Kami Chavis Simmons tells Winston-Salem Journal she wasn’t surprised by Ferguson, Mo., jury decision

Photo of Wake Forest Law School Professor Kami Chavis

Professor of Law and Director of the Criminal Justice Program Kami Chavis

Local civil-rights activists say they are disappointed that a grand jury in Ferguson, Mo., decided Monday not to indict a white police officer in the shooting death of unarmed black teen Michael Brown.

District Attorney Robert McCullough announced Monday night that a 12-person grand jury had decided not to indict Officer Darren Wilson in the Aug. 9 shooting death of 18-year-old Brown.

Wilson killed Brown after a confrontation.

“It is disappointing that they are not allowing a trial jury to hear the facts of the case,” said the Rev. Carlton Eversley, pastor of Dellabrook Presbyterian Church.

A trial jury of Wilson’s peers could have determined if Wilson had committed a crime in killing Brown, Eversley said.

The grand jury’s decision “plays in the general feeling in the black community that the lives of young black men are valued very much,” Eversley said. “It is very sad thing.”

Brown’s death is another example of white police officers unjustly killing young black men throughout the country, Eversley said, adding that federal officials should consider pursuing civil-rights charges against Wilson in connection with Brown’s death.

S. Wayne Patterson, president of local branch of the NAACP, said he was very saddened about the grand jury’s decision.

“I think the facts speak for themselves,” said Patterson, who is a lawyer. “The officer abused his discretion and authority, and he should be held accountable.”

Because the grand jury failed to indict Wilson, “he is walking away without any legal repercussions, and we have young African American, Michael Brown, who is dead,” Patterson said.

Kami Chavis Simmons, a professor at the Wake Forest University School of Law and director of its criminal justice program, said she wasn’t surprised by the grand jury’s decision.

“These cases of officer-involved shootings can be very difficult, especially in this case where you have a lot conflicting testimony,” Simmons said.

Many people following the case in the past three months knew only “bits and pieces” of the evidence, but the grand jury considered all of the case’s evidence, Simmons said.

“The Ferguson Police Department and local officials there will need to work hard to restore the trust and legitimacy that has been lost during this investigation,” Simmons said.

Learn more about Professor Kami Chavis Simmons by visiting her faculty profile.

Read the original article in the Winston-Salem Journal.