No matter what you believe as to whether or not Ferguson, Missouri police officer Darren Wilson was justified in shooting 18 year old Michael Brown on August 9, it is important to know the details of what generated much of the bitterness leading up to the shooting and subsequent riots that occurred there. Despite nearly non-stop coverage for months, national news media "talking heads" have largely suppressed the details about a key event that led to the shooting and mass local unrest.
That event happened in broad daylight on June 12, 2000 in nearby Berkeley when three undercover law enforcement agents fired 21 bullets into a car at a Jack-in-the-Box restaurant, killing its unarmed occupants, Earl Murray and Ronald Beasley. Beasley was an auto repair shop manager and father of three children. Murray's widow, Virgieann, was left to raise four daughters and a step son on her own.
The parking lot was the horrendous scene of another classic undercover drug bust that went wrong. The first problem was that there was no drug deal. Murray had been targeted after he was convicted twice for victimless crimes, once for a drug charge and another for firearms possession. Beasley had no criminal record and thus, his "crime" was being in the same car with Murray.
A second problem occurred when 3 of the 13 law enforcement officers at the scene, including the two shooters, claimed that Murray's parked car was moving forward and they opened fire because they felt threatened by it. Their claims were contradicted by fellow officers, eyewitnesses and an investigation that showed Murray's car was in reverse but did not move because it was blocked by a police car.
The third and foremost problem is that even if there had been a drug deal it did not justify murdering unarmed men who were minding their own business in broad daylight. St. Louis County prosecutor Robert McCulloch refused to prosecute Detective Robert Piekutowski and Drug Enforcement Agent (DEA) Keith Kierzkowski for the deaths. He justified his refusal with his opinion of Murray and Beasley: "These guys were bums." McCulloch must be unaware that the bill of attainder clause in Article I Section 9 of the U.S. Constitution prohibits any government agent from being the judge, jury and executioner of an American. He must also be unaware that in America, even "bums" have Constitutional protection.
When the grand jury declined to indict the officers, critics contended that McCulloch withheld all independent evidence from the jury. He was also the same prosecutor who presented the evidence to the grand jury in the recent Ferguson case when the grand jury declined to indict Wilson. In that case, critics contend that McCulloch's Assistant, Kathi Alizadeh, gave the grand jury a copy of Missouri Statute 563.046 which contained language that had already been ruled unconstitutional by Tennessee v. Garner in 1985. Days later when she was asked point blank by a grand juror if the U.S. Supreme Court had overridden the law she replied "Don't worry about that..." The Missouri Attorney General has now confirmed that the 1985 U.S. Supreme Court decision takes precedence over the Missouri statute. Alizadeh's dishonest court action and McCulloch's failure to uphold the law in the Berkeley case warrants that these two prosecutors should be prosecuted.
The Berkeley case is eerily similar to the New York shooting death of 23 year-old Sean Bell who was gunned down years later on November 25, 2006. In that case, undercover agents from the New York Police Department (NYPD) fired about 50 bullets into Bell's car, killing him and permanently injuring his two passengers. Bell, a former star high school baseball pitcher, was leaving his own bachelors party after midnight at a New York club where his friends and father were in attendance. He had a three year old daughter and was scheduled to marry her mother on the same day of his death. Once again, there were no drugs and the victims were unarmed. The families of those victims eventually received over $7 million in taxpayer funded settlements from the NYPD. The families of Beasley and Murray received nothing after a wrongful death lawsuit for the Beasley family was dismissed by Judge Richard Webber.