The New York Times reports that the Justice Department is taking steps to close the investigation and clear Wilson of any wrongdoing.
Federal prosecutors have begun work on a legal memo recommending no civil rights charges against the officer, Darren Wilson, law enforcement officials said.
That would close the case in the death of 18-year-old Michael Brown. An investigation by the F.B.I., which is complete, found no evidence to support the charges against the officer, the officials said.
If you recall, authorities in Ferguson concluded their investigation in November and recommended no charges. A grand jury declined to indict Wilson, a 6-year-veteran on the force. The Justice Department is expected to release a report explaining their decision.
There is a high legal bar for bringing federal civil rights charges, and federal investigators had for months signaled that they were unlikely to do so.
Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr., has said that he plans to have it done before leaving office, probably in the next month or two if his successor is confirmed.
Three law enforcement officials discussed the details of the federal investigation on condition of anonymity because the report was incomplete and Mr. Holder and his top civil rights prosecutor, Vanita Gupta, had not formally made a decision. Dena Iverson, a Justice Department spokeswoman, declined to comment.
The federal investigation did not uncover any facts that differed significantly from the evidence made public by the authorities in Missouri late last year, the law enforcement officials said. To bring federal civil rights charges, the Justice Department would have needed to prove that Officer Wilson had intended to violate Mr. Brown’s rights when he had opened fire and that he had done so willfully — meaning he knew that it was wrong to fire, but did so anyway.
Attorney for the Brown family, Benjamin Crump, refused to comment on the investigation and speculation that Wilson would be cleared until the Justice Department’s official statement is released.
“We’ve heard speculation on cases before that didn’t turn out to be true,” Mr. Crump said. “It’s too much to put the family through to respond to every rumor.” Mr. Crump said that at the end of last year that the Justice Department had told him that it was still investigating.
Wilson’s investigation may be coming to a close, but a civil rights investigation into reports of discriminatory traffic stops, racial profiling, and excessive force by the Ferguson Police Department, a mostly white force serving a black community, remains open.
We’ll keep you updated with the latest.
SOURCE: NYT | PHOTO CREDIT: Office of Prosecuting Attorney Robert McCulloch