Ferguson family notified grand jury has made decision; announcement expected soon
FERGUSON, Mo. – Law enforcement in Ferguson is prepared for anything and everything once a grand jury decision is announced in the Michael Brown shooting, Missouri Public Safety Director Daniel Isom said.
State and federal sources told CNN the grand jury decision will be announced on Monday.
Isom said ongoing dialogue with community members has led to “an understanding of the ground rules we’ll move forward on.”
“We’re prepared for any decision that comes down,” he said.
When asked about outside agitators, Isom said, “The people who come from outside will be clearly identifiable and we’ll deal with those people as well.”
The streets of Ferguson were quiet as the city waited to hear the grand jury’s decision.
More businesses had boarded up their doors and windows over the weekend, in case protests take a violent turn, although most of the demonstrations so far have been peaceful. Community leaders and activists have called for calm.
Many residents just want to get the whole thing over with. Some said they have been hearing for days that a decision was imminent.
“I will believe it when I see it,” said Stefannie Wheat.
The announcement will come from the St. Louis County prosecutor, the sources said.
Brown’s family has not been notified of the grand jury’s decision, family attorney Benjamin Crump told CNN legal analyst Sunny Hostin.
“He says the family is very upset, they are distraught that no one from the prosecutor’s office has reached out to them,” Hostin said.
The city has been on edge in anticipation of a decision, and activists are prepared to protest.
For the grand jury, the key question is whether Officer Darren Wilson, who is white, will face charges in the August 9 shooting death of Brown, 18, who was black.
Though the basic facts of the case — that Brown was unarmed when Wilson shot him — are not in question, the facts of the fatal moment are hotly disputed.
Supporters of Brown’s family back witness accounts that Wilson fired while Brown had his hands up in surrender. Wilson’s supporters say that Brown was the aggressor and had tried to take Wilson’s gun while he was in his vehicle and that the officer fired in self-defense.
The 12-member grand jury is deciding whether Wilson should be charged with any of several possible crimes, including: first-degree murder, second-degree murder, voluntary manslaughter or involuntary manslaughter, said Ed Magee, a spokesman for the Prosecuting Attorney’s Office.
The grand jury can issue an indictment on any of those four charges. It also can add a charge of armed criminal action, authorities said.
But the grand jury, which received the Missouri statutes for self-defense and the police use of deadly force, may also choose not to indict Wilson.
The jury, which began meeting in August on the Brown case, meets in secrecy.
While the jury members are not identified, authorities have released some information about them. The group includes nine white people (six men and three women) and three black people (two women and one man), court officials said.
No information was given about the ages or occupation of the grand jury members, who were randomly selected from an approved pool.
Unlike a jury in a criminal case, which convicts someone if jurors are convinced of guilt “beyond a reasonable doubt,” a grand jury decides whether there is “probable cause” to charge someone with a crime, based on testimony and evidence presented.
In Missouri, they don’t have to be unanimous to indict, as long as nine of the 12 agree on a charge.
Wilson testified before the grand jury, CNN legal analyst Lisa Monet Wayne said.
The shooting prompted weeks of protests and, in some cases, violence in Ferguson. Protesters argued that authorities were trying to stifle protests; officials said they were acting to keep violence under control.
– CNN’s Moni Basu and Steve Almasy contributed to this report.