Ferguson prosecutor says witnesses lied under oath to grand jury
Some witnesses obviously lied while testifying under oath to the Ferguson grand jury that ultimately declined to indict 18-year-old Michael Brown, said the St. Louis county prosecutor in charge of the case, Bob McCulloch.
Speaking with KTRS radio, McCulloch said his goal was to have any individual who claimed to be a witness testify before the grand jury.
“Clearly some were not telling the truth,” he said.
Specifically, McCulloch noted that one woman in particular who said she witnessed the shooting but “clearly wasn’t present.” According to McCulloch, “she recounted a story right out of the newspaper” that matched up with the account of Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson, the officer who shot and killed Brown on August 9.
Notably, the account given by this witness, identified as Sandra McElroy by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, was scrutinized in great detail by investigators, who eventually concluded she could not have seen the shooting like she said she did. McElroy claimed she saw Brown charge at Wilson before he was shot.
Despite apparently knowing some witnesses were not telling the truth, McCulloch said he does not have second thoughts about the way he conducted the case, nor does he plan on pressing charges against those who lied.
"It's a legitimate issue,” McCulloch said, as quoted by NPR. “But in the situation — again, because of the manner in which we did it — we're not going to file perjury charges against anyone. There were people who came in and yes, absolutely lied under oath. Some lied to the FBI — even though they're not under oath, that's another potential offense, a federal offense.”
The comments comes as one Missouri lawmaker is pushing for an investigation into the prosecutor’s behavior during the grand jury proceedings, citing allegations that he “manipulated” the situation.
"Many St. Louis-area residents believe — and there is at least some evidence to suggest — that Mr. McCulloch manipulated the grand jury process from the beginning to ensure that Officer Wilson would not be indicted," wrote State Rep. Karla May in a letter to Sen. Kurt Schaefer.
Schaefer’s Senate committee is currently looking into Gov. Jay Nixon’s response to the protests that raged following the grand jury decision, and May wants the review expanded to include McCulloch role as prosecutor.
"I don't believe he followed proper procedures when he presented evidence to the grand jury," May told the AP. "To me, he was working for the defendant in this case and not the victim."
For his part, McCulloch said he was “fully aware” of these concerns but called them “unfounded.” It’s not clear if the prosecutor will be investigated.
Elsewhere in his interview, McCulloch defended the decision to announce the grand jury ruling at night, saying, the events that followed were out of his control and would have happened anyway.
“There was no good time to make the announcement,” he said. “Those who were bent on destruction, they weren't demonstrators, they're common criminals.”