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Bias and Recusal in Ferguson’s Investigation

Among the demands of the “protesters” in Ferguson is that the investigation and prosecution of police officer Darren Wilson be taken away from St. Louis County Prosecutor Robert McCulloch. McCulloch is biased, it is said. How so? In 1964, his father, a St. Louis police officer, was shot to death by an African-American. Moreover, McCulloch comes from a family of cops. He wanted to be a police officer himself, but when cancer cost him a leg as a kid, he became a prosecutor.

Yet, in 23 years, McCulloch has convicted many cops of many crimes, and has said that if Gov. Jay Nixon orders him off this case, he will comply. Meanwhile, he is moving ahead with the grand jury. As for Gov. Nixon, he revealed his closed mind by demanding the “vigorous prosecution” of a cop who has not even been charged and by calling repeatedly for “justice for [Brown’s] family” but not Wilson’s.

What has been going on for two weeks now in Ferguson, with the ceaseless vilification of Darren Wilson and the clamor to arrest him, is anti-American. It is a mob howl for summary judgment, when this case cries out, not for a rush to judgment, but for a long tedious search for the whole truth of what happened that tragic day.

For conflicting stories have emerged. The initial version was uncomplicated. On August 9, around noon, Brown and a companion were walking in the street and blocking traffic when ordered by Wilson to move onto the sidewalk. Brown balked, a scuffle ensued. Wilson pulled out his gun and shot him six times, leaving Brown dead in the street. Open and shut. A white cop, sassed by a black kid, goes berserk and empties his gun.

Lately, however, another version has emerged.

Fifteen minutes before the shooting, Brown was caught on videotape manhandling and menacing a clerk at a convenience store he was robbing of a $44 box of cigars. A woman, in contact with Wilson, called a radio station to say that Brown and Wilson fought in the patrol car and Brown had gone for the officer’s gun, which went off. When Brown backed away, Wilson pointed his gun and told him to freeze. Brown held up his hands, then charged. Wilson then shot the 6’4,” 292-pound Brown six times, with the last bullet entering the skull. St. Louis County police then leaked that Wilson had been beaten “severely” in the face and suffered the fracture of an eye socket. Brown’s companion, Dorian Johnson, says Brown was running away when Wilson began to fire. But, according to the autopsies, all of the bullets hit Brown in the front. ABC now reports that Dorian Johnson has previously been charged with filing a false police report.

If the first version is true, Wilson is guilty. If the second is true, Brown committed two felonies before being shot, and Darren Wilson fired his weapon in defense of his life. 

If there is any pubic official who should recuse himself from any role in this investigation, it is not Robert McCulloch but Eric Holder. Holder has a lifelong, almost Sharpton-like, obsession with race. Three weeks in office, he declared America a “nation of cowards” for refusing to discuss race more. Arriving in St. Louis, he declared, “I am the attorney general of the United States. But I am also a black man.” Query. What is the chief law enforcement officer of the United States, who is heading up the federal investigation of the shooting of a black teenager by a white cop, doing declaring his racial solidarity?

Holder then related several incidents that have stuck in his craw:

I can remember being stopped on the New Jersey turnpike on two occasions and accused of speeding. Pulled over. … ‘Let me search your car.’ … Go through the truck of my car, look under the seats and all this kind of stuff. I remember how humiliating that was and how angry I was and the impact it had on me.

Holder also spoke of being stopped by a cop in Georgetown when he was running to the movies. Fine. The Great Man is outraged by such indignities. But the mindset exhibited here raises a grave question as to whether Eric Holder can objectively lead an investigation of a white cop who shot a black teenager. In Eric Holder’s mind, the verdict already seems in.

Any defense attorney would have Eric Holder tossed out of a jury pool, as soon as he started to vent like this. If Holder has made up his mind about what happened in Ferguson that Saturday, fine. He is entitled to his opinion. But someone who has already decided officer Wilson’s actions are consistent with a racist police pattern he has observed personally should not be passing judgment on whether officer Wilson goes on trial for his life.

President Obama says he does not want to put “my thumb upon the scales” of justice. He should take Eric Holder’s thumb off.

Patrick J. Buchanan is the author of the new book “The Greatest Comeback: How Richard Nixon Rose From Defeat to Create the New Majority.” [1] Copyright 2014 Creators.com.

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#1 Comment By E. H. Looney On August 22, 2014 @ 8:07 am

I’ve noticed that lots of people without a wife, kids, or property anywhere near Ferguson sure have some strong opinions about what the police are doing over there. Funny, that.

#2 Comment By tz On August 22, 2014 @ 10:25 am

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Who is a pundit from just as far away as Holder to judge who will be fair? Or appear fair.

Michael Brown was judged, convicted and executed in 30 seconds, so the call to spend 3 months in an exacting investigation falls flat.

Police judge their own. Throwing a grenade into a baby’s crib? “The officers acted appropriately” Black people loot, blue people engage in “civil forfeiture”. When blacks don’t produce ID, it is because they are guilty, but when the department won’t release the ID of the cop it is because they are innocent.

Should not all of us, white, brown, black, and blue follow the same rule of law? Blues ought not be above the law and Blacks ought not be below it.

If a black person shot someone (or find someone from Ferguson who was accused), would they be free with pay as a long investigation takes place? Or in a fetid jail with no or impossible bail?

Whatever standard and practice commonly used in treating the residents of Ferguson ought to be used for the accused cop. No more and no less. That is justice and the rule of law.

#3 Comment By EliteCommInc. On August 22, 2014 @ 12:42 pm

I am going to avoid dissecting the case. But what is of note and it s a very sad note.

There are large groups of the population who simply don’t trust government. There is a difference between respect and trust.

Equating the two is cause for a good deal of miscommunication.

It used to be the conservative a priori view — I may respect the government and those who operate under the accountability of the US citizen. But that accountability means a watchful and distrustful eye.

It matters not whether one is skeptical of government welfare or the use of force. The doubt always always rests with the citizen. No community suffers more of the opposite than black US citizens and it has been so inclusive of and after slavery.

History of habit is hard to break.

Ohhh,

#4 Comment By Philo Vaihinger On August 22, 2014 @ 3:24 pm

Fat chance, Pat. And you know it.

#5 Comment By JonF On August 22, 2014 @ 5:04 pm

That Wilson was injured in any significant way has now been debunked.
Also irrelevant is whether Brown paid for the cigarillos (as the full video seems to show) or not (though, yes he did have an altercation with a store employee)– the Ferguson police themselves have confirmed that Wilson was unaware of the incident.

At the moment there are very few reliable facts on this case as Internet rumors have polluted it hopelessly. We know the name of the victim and the nature of his fatal injuries and the identity of the policeman who shot him and when and where the shooting occurred. We know that the victim had some kind of altercation at a store minutes before. That’s it. Everything is unsubstantiated rumor.

#6 Comment By Hibernian On August 22, 2014 @ 10:41 pm

@tz: The “white people get away with everything, and a black man can get killed for jaywalking” narrative ceased to be true sometime between the Martin Luther King riots and the Rodney King riots, a space of about a quarter of a century. It’s not that a jaywalking black man is not in danger from our over-militarized police, but the level of danger is no longer so different than that faced by a white, Hispanic, or Asian man. The “Didn’t it used to be the other way around” narrative is not so unreasonable concerning giving a job to a black person with somewhat lesser credentials than the best competitor; it’s demonic when used to justify what’s being done to Patrolman Wilson. And your use of the word “executed” establishes that you’ve openly and brazenly prejudged the case.

#7 Comment By Kurt Gayle On August 23, 2014 @ 11:43 am

A 12-member St. Louis County grand jury will decide if there is “probable cause” — based on testimony and evidence presented, in the absence of a judge — to charge someone with a crime. In Missouri, grand jurors don’t have to be unanimous to bring forward an indictment, as long as at least 9 of the 12 agree.

Given that the grand jury has not yet met to determine if there is “probable cause” that a crime has been committed, I agree with Pat Buchanan’s comment that Missouri Governor Nixon’s call for a “vigorous prosecution” seems prejudicial.

I also agree with Buchanan that U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder’s public statement upon arrival in St. Louis — “I am the attorney general of the United States. But I am also a black man.” – is at least troubling. Holder is in charge of the federal investigation to determine if the Fergus case involves a civil rights violation. Clearly, the course of justice would be better served without statements from the chief U.S. law enforcement officer that seem to suggest racial motivation in advance of an examination of the evidence.

Some statistics involving cases of those killed in the U.S. by police during arrest:

According the FBI’s 2012 Supplementary Homicide Report police killed 426 people during arrest – 425 by shooting.

52% of those killed were white, 31% black, and 17% Hispanic.

Given that black Americans are 13% of the U.S. population, the 31% (132) black victims among the total of 426 killed by police during arrest suggests a disproportionate number of black victims by a factor of roughly 2.4.

#8 Comment By Joe A On August 23, 2014 @ 7:17 pm

For someone born of white privilege, you seem to be an expert on what African-Americans go through that Caucasians do not. getting killed for simply walking in the street, or selling cigarettes (Eric Garner in NYC) doesn’t seem to happen to white people. Why is that, Mr. Buchanon?

#9 Comment By LauraNo On August 24, 2014 @ 3:16 pm

What? It’s ok that the prosecutor and his family are police or police wannbes, (and that his officer father was killed by a black man on duty!) but not that the AG was stopped for being black as a young man? Always two sets of rules with your kind, Pat. Oh, and by the way, that nonsense story by an anonymous third party has been debunked and you should be very embarrassed for, first, having fallen for it (a caller to a radio station, REALLY???) and second, for spreading it around.

#10 Comment By VietVet On August 25, 2014 @ 7:46 am

When the article began with putting quotes around “protesters” in the first clause of the first sentence, it was obvious that the rest would be lacking in objectivity, Sure enough, the now discredited report that “Wilson had been beaten “severely” in the face and suffered the fracture of an eye socket” is invoked to prove that Wilson shot in defense of his life.

#11 Comment By Fran Macadam On August 25, 2014 @ 1:52 pm

More and more, America does look like a heavily militarized occupation zone. Not the America I want, for sure. But, that’s the social cost of policies that favor the 1% while pushing everyone else into an economic precariat.

#12 Comment By EliteCommInc. On August 25, 2014 @ 4:51 pm

” It’s not that a jaywalking black man is not in danger from our over-militarized police, but the level of danger is no longer so different than that faced by a white, Hispanic, or Asian man. The “Didn’t it used to be the other way around” narrative is not so unreasonable concerning giving a job to a black person with somewhat lesser credentials than the best competitor . . .”

You are of course being facetious, The historic treatment as it pertains to blacks has become just the way it is. And that is deeply saddening.

But your credential remark is beyond the pale. And it is beyond the pale in several ways:

1. there is no policy that requires hiring blacks who are not qualified.

2. the practice you references is most pertinent to women

3. across the board standards have been lowered to employ a protected class — that class

4. white women, who are not only beneficiaries of the policy you are subtlety indicting, but have been prior and since the main discriminators alongside their male white counter parts

Though getting anyone to actually acknowledge that would be brushing the teeth of a great white shark.

This weekend being cooped up between the garage and the living room, I have come to the conclusion that the founders have left us with a legacy akin to Paul’s thorn in the flesh. A problem so deep it may very well be with us always — to keep us humble.

I noticed even the Russians seem to be pressing that point.

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#13 Comment By M_Young On August 26, 2014 @ 4:36 pm

“Given that black Americans are 13% of the U.S. population, the 31% (132) black victims among the total of 426 killed by police during arrest suggests a disproportionate number of black victims by a factor of roughly 2.4.”

Not if you figure in the disproportionate rate at which blacks commit violent crime. This has been shown, year after year, in both arrest reports and victimization surveys. In fact, in 2012 blacks –13% of the population, as you say — committed 53% of murders where the perp was known.

Blacks come into contact with police for wrong doing because they — as a group –do more wrong. Therefore they are at a higher risk of being killed by police.

None of this is to say that cops aren’t trigger happy these days.

#14 Comment By Kurt Gayle On September 1, 2014 @ 7:43 am

M. Young,

I should have been clearer and qualified what I meant by “disproportionate.” I agree with you concerning the “disproportionate rate at which blacks commit violent crime.” Blacks would therefore tend to come into contact with police in a disproportionately high percentage of high-risk arrest situations.