Four years after Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson shot and killed Michael Brown — nearly to the day — St. Louis County voters sent a message that could bring the case back to the drawing board.
Missouri’s Democratic primary Tuesday pitted outspoken Ferguson city council member and attorney Wesley Bell against 7-term incumbent county prosecutor Bob McCulloch — and in a stunning upset, Bell won with 57 percent of the vote.
Many saw the primary itself as a referendum of McCulloch’s decision not to file charges against Officer Wilson — in spite of the fact that McCulloch and a grand jury came to that conclusion after considering all of the evidence and charges ranging from first degree murder to involuntary manslaughter.
A Department of Justice investigation into the matter — and into the Ferguson Police Department as a whole — found a number of civil rights violations within the department but found no evidence of specific wrongdoing on Officer Wilson’s part.
Four years ago, McCulloch failed to pursue justice in the police killing of Michael Brown. Last night, the voters of St. Louis County held him accountable. https://t.co/XZKnZtpTZN
— ACLU (@ACLU) August 9, 2018
St. Louis County prosecutor Bob McCulloch—the Ferguson prosecutor who refused to convict the officer who shot and killed Michael Brown Jr.—has been voted out of office https://t.co/unBSRt17Qz
— The Daily Beast (@thedailybeast) August 9, 2018
Robert McCulloch was the St. Louis County Prosecutor who did not indict Ferguson officer Darren Wilson for killing Michael Brown.
Wesley Bell won on a platform to:
▪︎ End mass Incarceration
▪︎ Reform cash bail
▪︎ End the death penalty
▪︎ Resist the Trump Administration pic.twitter.com/5F5lE2jUqe
— Keith Boykin (@keithboykin) August 8, 2018
The Appeal, a nonprofit criminal justice reform publication, even appeared to blame McCulloch for “igniting the Ferguson protests,” first when he declined to recuse himself from the case and again, when he announced the grand jury’s findings.
St. Louis County has ousted Bob McCulloch—the prosecutor who helped ignite the Ferguson protests. 89.6% of the votes are counted and African American reformer-challenger Wesley Bell has 55% of the votes. Results here: https://t.co/SNg7FxdYtg Read: https://t.co/ig33xPWfZW
— The Appeal (@theappeal) August 8, 2018
The Appeal didn’t note that McCulloch was called upon to recuse himself only after the protests had already been ongoing for a week — and the National Guard had already been called to the scene to help maintain order. Additionally, Democratic Governor Jay Nixon declined requests to remove McCulloch from the case. Protesters had raised questions over his ability to be impartial because McCulloch, who is white, lost his own police officer father when he was killed on the job by an African American in 1964.
Bell, who ran on a platform of “criminal justice reform,” was among those who criticized McCulloch for his handling of the Michael Brown case — namely the fact that he never brought charges against Wilson.
And as the anniversary of Michael Brown’s death passed on Thursday, so began the calls for Bell to begin his term by correcting what many of his supporters see as a mistake on McCulloch’s part.
And two days ago, Robert McCulloch, the lead prosecutor who failed to get charges brought against Darren Wilson, the cop that shot and killed Brown, lost his seat to Wesley Bell. https://t.co/r8CvjOArzS
— Rhiannon Walker (@InstantRHIplay) August 9, 2018
4 years ago Officer Darren Wilson shot and killed an unarmed teenager Michael Brown in Ferguson. The DA refused to prosecute. 2 days ago he was replaced in an election won by Wesley Bell. Now we of the Black Lives Movement demand Darren Wilson be indicted. No Double Jeopardy.
— Wendell Pierce (@WendellPierce) August 9, 2018
Bell has not outlined any specific plans to file charges in the Michael Brown case, but as he will be running unopposed in November, he will most likely have a free reign to make that choice come January.