Darren Wilson says Michael Brown pinned him down in his car.

Evidence Doesn’t Support Civil Rights Charges Against Michael Brown’s Shooter

Evidence Doesn’t Support Civil Rights Charges Against Michael Brown’s Shooter

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Oct. 18 2014 2:07 PM

Evidence Doesn’t Support Civil Rights Charges Against Michael Brown’s Shooter

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Tamika Staton leaves a personal message last month at a memorial in the middle of the road where teenager Michael Brown died after being shot by Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson on Aug. 9.

Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images

The federal investigation into the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri that took place two months ago and sparked a nationwide debate about the militarization of the police is continuing. But so far at least, there doesn’t appear to be enough evidence to file civil rights charges against the shooter, Officer Darren Wilson, who has told investigators he feared for his life while Brown pinned him in his vehicle during a struggle over his gun, reports the New York Times in the first public account of the officer’s testimony. Wilson’s gun was fired twice inside the car, and one of the bullets struck Brown in the arm while the other did not hit anyone.

Wilson’s September testimony contradicts some witnesses, but the forensics tests did show Brown’s blood was on the officer’s gun and on the interior side of the car door. Brown reportedly scratched and punched Wilson repeatedly during the scuffle, according to the officer’s testimony. His version of events could be crucial to the grand jury because Wilson’s “feeling of vulnerability and his sense of heightened alert” could help determine whether the officer was justified in using lethal force.

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The testimony, however, fails to explain why Wilson pulled the trigger several times after the two were out of the car. Several witnesses have said the 18-year-old Brown was raising his arms in surrender when he was shot. Brown’s attorney also questions why Wilson would go after Brown if he was allegedly afraid for his life. “His actions contradict the presence of fear,” the attorney tells the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “You’re fearful, a guy’s running, but you’re going to get out and chase him? How many people do you know chase something that you’re fearful of?” Although the attorney does not deny there may have been a scuffle, “no matter what happened in the car, Michael Brown ran away from him.”

Daniel Politi has been contributing to Slate since 2004 and wrote the Today’s Papers column from 2006 to 2009. Follow him on Twitter.