The Legal Options Left In Ferguson

Rashad Robinson wants the DOJ to charge Wilson:

Now, justice for Brown lies in the hands of president Barack Obama and US attorney general Eric Holder. The Department of Justice is investigating the death and has the power and responsibility to arrest and prosecute officer Wilson under federal criminal charges. It’s up to our national leaders to step in where Missouri’s politicians have failed, and secure justice for Brown immediately.

Jacob Sullum highly doubts the DOJ will take action:

The relevant statute is Title 18, Section 242, which makes it a federal crime to “willfully” deprive someone of his constitutional rights “under color of any law.” If death results, this crime can be punished by a life sentence or even by execution. But it requires a specific intent to violate someone’s rights, and there is little evidence that Wilson had such an intent.

Jonathan Cohn agrees that the DOJ charging Wilson is unlikely:

But the Ferguson police department is also under investigation, from the Justice Department, and that investigation could very well end in some kind of “consent decree” under which the police changed policies under close federal supervision. It’s happened that way in other jurisdictions where police have come under attack for mistreating racial minoritiesand, as Rebecca Leber has noted, many experts think such arrangements have produced better policing and improved community relations.

The Ferguson Police Department also still has its own internal investigation into Wilson’s conduct, and Missouri’s Department of Public Safety has the right to revoke Wilson’s certification to be a police officer. The most likely remaining legal action against Wilson, though, is a possible civil suit filed by Brown’s family. The burden of proof in wrongful death or civil rights cases is considerably lower than in criminal cases, and the most Brown’s family could hope for is financial penalties and, perhaps, some sense of judicial vindication.