Will Law Enforcement Leaks Prevent Rioting in St. Louis?

Posted: Oct 22, 2014 4:17 PM

Another day, another leak from law enforcement in St. Louis indicating that Officer Darren Wilson will not be indicted by a grand jury for the shooting death of Michael Brown. Under the headline, "Evidence supports officer’s account of shooting in Ferguson," The Washington Post reports today:

[M]ore than a half-dozen unnamed black witnesses have provided testimony to a St. Louis County grand jury that largely supports Wilson’s account of events of Aug. 9, according to several people familiar with the investigation who spoke with The Washington Post.

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 cast Brown as an aggressor who threatened the officer’s life.

The Post report comes a day after the St. Louis Post-Dispatch published an official autopsy of Brown, also finding that the facts support Wilson, and not the narrative created by rioters in Ferguson. From the Post-Dispatch:

The St. Louis medical examiner, Dr. Michael Graham, who is not part of the official investigation, reviewed the autopsy report for the newspaper. He said Tuesday that it “does support that there was a significant altercation at the car.” Graham said the examination indicated a shot traveled from the tip of Brown’s right thumb toward his wrist.

The official report notes an absence of stippling, powder burns around a wound that indicate a shot fired at relatively short range.
Dr. Judy Melinek, a forensic pathologist in San Francisco, said the autopsy “supports the fact that this guy is reaching for the gun, if he has gunpowder particulate material in the wound.” She added, “If he has his hand near the gun when it goes off, he’s going for the officer’s gun.”

And last Friday, The New York Times reported:

The officer, Darren Wilson, has told the authorities that during the scuffle, Mr. Brown reached for the gun. It was fired twice in the car, according to forensics tests performed by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The first bullet struck Mr. Brown in the arm; the second bullet missed.

The forensics tests showed Mr. Brown’s blood on the gun, as well as on the interior door panel and on Officer Wilson’s uniform. Officer Wilson told the authorities that Mr. Brown had punched and scratched him repeatedly, leaving swelling on his face and cuts on his neck.

This is quite a string of well placed leaks not to be the result of design. Clearly law enforcement officials in St. Louis want to prepare Brown supporters for the seemingly imminent reality that Wilson will not be indicted. Faced with this possibility, Brown's supporters, so far, have been defiant. 

"This is not a black and white thing," Ferguson activist Angela Whitman told CNN after The New York Times story Friday, "this is about what's right and wrong. St. Louis is in trouble, because if this is what Darren Wilson said, and they believe him, St. Louis is going to burn."

Whitman's let it burn attitude seemed to be the prevailing sentiment among Brown supporters this Sunday when they harassed people outside a St. Louis Rams game, holding the American flag upside down, while punching and spitting on passers by.

Will the violence at the next Rams be worse or better now that it is becoming clearer Wilson will not be indicted? If it does get worse, it is hard to see how more leaks could possibly prevent a full blown riot.