What are the chances of the Justice Department landing a criminal prosecution in the police shooting of an unarmed black teenager in Ferguson?
It won’t be easy, the Associated Press reports.
Dozens of FBI agents are in Ferguson, interviewing potential witnesses.
The Justice Department must meet a difficult standard of proof. To prove their case, they need to convince a judge or jury that the officer acted not only with excessive force but willfully violated Michael Brown’s constitutional rights.
“It’s a very difficult standard to meet, and it really is satisfied only in the most egregious cases,” said University of Michigan law professor Samuel Bagenstos, the former No. 2 official in the department’s civil rights division. “Criminal enforcement of constitutional rights is not something that is easily pursued. It really requires building a case very carefully, very painstakingly.”
What still remains unclear is what was happening when the officer pulled the trigger.