WASHINGTON — The Justice Department says it won't prosecute former Ferguson, Missouri, police officer Darren Wilson in the shooting death of an unarmed black 18-year-old that led to weeks of protests.
Federal officials concluded there was no evidence to disprove Wilson's testimony that he feared for his safety, nor was there reliable evidence that Michael Brown had his hands up when he was shot.
The decision in the August 9 shooting had been expected, in part because of the high legal standard needed for a federal civil rights prosecution. Wilson, who has said Brown struck him in the face and reached for his gun during a tussle, also had been cleared by a Missouri grand jury in November and later resigned from the department.
At the same time, the newly released report on police practices presents the suburban St. Louis police force in an unflattering light, accusing police and Ferguson's municipal court system of engaging in a pattern of discrimination with disproportionate traffic stops and jail sentencing for African Americans.
Looking at 2012-to-2014, DOJ investigators found evidence that 85% of all vehicle stops involved African-Americans. 90% of all citations were issued to African-Americans and with 93% of all arrests involving African-Americans.
Ferguson is 67% black.
The report also finds deep polarization between police and the community.
Also uncovered by the Justice Department were racist jokes contained in emails from Ferguson City officials.
One 2008 email joked that Barack Obama wouldn't be president for long because, quote, "what black man holds a steady job for four years."
The report was commissioned by US Attorney General Eric Holder in the wake of recent turmoil in Ferguson.