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Criminal Law/Mike Brown killing


QUESTION: I'm perplexed about why officer Wilson hasn't been arrested for the killing of Mike Brown. I'm also curious about why the grand jury route has been chosen in preference to the much quicker preliminary hearing route, in view of the obvious impatience in the community. Any light you could shed on these issues would be much appreciated.

ANSWER: Richard,

Whether it be right or wrong, the usual process in this country is to give law enforcement personnel the "benefit of the doubt" in shooting cases unless the conduct was so apparent and/or so egregious that immediate legal action is required. The argument being - if police personnel had to worry about being criminally charged every time they fired their weapon in self-defense, they might react differently, hesitate at the wrong time and get themselves killed or allow a citizien to be killed because of that split-second hesitation.

With respect to not charging this specific officer immediately, there appears to be multiple versions of what occurred - even from the victim's own friends as well as the ever-increasing number of "witnesses" that appear to be coming out of the woodwork. Emotions and politics aside, any prudent District Attorney will want his ducks in a row before charging a sworn police office with murder.

In a criminal prosecution, the state can charge a citizen on a "warrant," arrest him and he is then entitled to a Preliminary Hearing to confirm that there was sufficient probable cause to issue the "warrant." Prosecutors sometimes dislike Preliminary Hearings in complex cases because it requires them to pretty much stage a mini-trial. They are required to present most of their evidence, lab reports, witness statements etc. Lastly, they usually have a pretty short time to prepare it. In cases such as this, the Grand Jury is the way to go.

A Grand Jury is comprised of local citizens from that geographic area and they are only required to see enough evidence to return a True Bill (Indictment). Those proceedings are secret and with a "True Bill" from a state grand jury, the defendant is not entitled to a Preliminary Hearing. Therefore, the prosecutor is not pressed to have all his evidence ready and/or aired in public until he is ready to do so.

Lastly, a Grand Jury is the politically savvy way to go in a case such as this. It takes the political heat off the District Attorney, state/federal law enforcement, or the judiciary in that town. With a True Bill, they can assert that they did their job and they can save face with the public and the media. If no True Bill is handed down, they can claim that they presented the evidence to a Grand Jury of their peers and it was the Grand Jury that refused to indict the shooter, not the government - succinctly, a "Win-Win" for the government.

Of course, that's just our opinion.

The MPM Group, Inc.

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Many thanks, Kevin, for your prompt, informative, and very extensive reply.

My main problem with it is that although sharply conflicting witness accounts in general may be common, this case seems to stand out for the complete *lack* of "multiple versions." See Do you know something I don't?


Unless I missed something when I first heard of this incident, I was under the impression that the very initial versions of what allegedly happened were somewhat incongruous to what other people (police and the public) were initially saying. However, as time passed and the media and politicians became more involved in the incident, it seems that their stories are getting more in-line with each other. Funny how that happens.

The MPM Group, Inc.  

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Kevin M. Tamez


Kevin M. Tamez serves as one of the most senior and experienced consultants at The MPM Group, Inc. During more than 27 years of both state and federal law enforcement experience, Mr. Tamez held supervisory roles with state law enforcement as well as senior management positions with the U.S. Department of Justice - serving in both domestic as well as foreign posts. In addition to his extensive foreign operational experience, Mr. Tamez is a court adjudicated expert in most Title 18 and Title 21 complex criminal, undercover, and electronic (Title III) intercept investigations. As a senior manager, he is also an authority in most government administrative matters to include Human Resource and Workers’ Compensation issues. Mr. Tamez has broadened his already considerable expertise by authoring various legal reference and inmate advocacy manuals. Mr. Tamez is frequently sought after for his expertise in counseling and preparing convicted law enforcement personnel, politicians, and other “celebrities” for reporting to a federal penal facility.


More than 27-years of both state and federal law enforcement. Uniform patrol, Tactical Operations, SWAT, Detective Bureau (Narcotics), and Uniform Supervision. U.S. Federal Agent (Series-1811), all facets of complex domestic investigations, Special Operations, Paramilitary operations overseas, senior management, strategic planning, etc.

Mr. Tamez has authored several formal "Position Papers" as well as several legal reference manuals to include “The Pre-Release/Post-Release Process for Federal Inmates," “Medical Issues for Federal Inmates,” and “The Administrative Remedy Process for Federal Inmates,” thereby establishing himself as one of this industry’s foremost authorities in BOP procedural and administrative matters as well. In addition to his recent legal reference manuals and other professional publications, Mr. Tamez recently authored the critically acclaimed “The BOP’s Failure to Properly Implement the 2nd Chance Act of 2007” as well as the educational website

Mr. Tamez holds a Bachelor's of Arts Degree and has done graduate work at George Washington University in Washington, D.C. Mr. Tamez is a graduate of the Northern Virginia Criminal Justice Academy and both the Basic & Advanced Special Agent courses in Quantico Virginia.

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