It's been 100 days since 18-year-old Michael Brown was shot and killed by police officer Darren Wilson in Ferguson, Missouri. Now, the country — especially communities that have strained relations with their local law enforcement — await a grand jury decision on whether or not to bring charges against Wilson following the conclusion of testimony on Saturday.
The jury has been meeting since August 20, weighing conflicting testimonies over whether Wilson was responding to a perceived threat to his life from the unarmed teen, or if Brown was putting his arms up in surrender when he was shot and killed. Wilson is on paid administrative leave and has remained out of the public eye since the shooting.
Both protesters and city officials are bracing themselves for the outcome of the hearing, particularly if Wilson is not indicted. In preparation, grass-roots networks such as the Don’t Shoot Coalition are training citizens in nonviolent tactics. Other cities have also expressed concerns over the large scale of demonstrations that may take place.
On Friday, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch released both audio and video related to the incident. The audio recording — from police radio communications — helps map out a timeline of the whole incident, indicating that the encounter lasted only 90 seconds. The implication is that though Wilson said he initially approached Brown and his friend for walking in the middle of the street, he was also aware that police were looking for a young man who had allegedly stolen a box of cigars from a convenience store.
The video shows Wilson walking out of the police station to go to the hospital on the afternoon of August 9, and returning later. Though the picture isn't very clear, lawyers for Brown's family said on Saturday that the images indicate that Wilson's injuries were not as severe as leaked reports had stated.
In light of the expected escalation of protests — a "die in" was staged today — St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Bob McCulloch has promised nearby school districts a 24-hour warning if the verdict will be released on a weekend, and a three-hour notice if it's on a weekday. Protest organizers, meanwhile, are adamant that they do not want things to escalate into a riot.
"We as a community of people, we aren't going to use violent power," Michael McPhearson, co-chairman of the Don't Shoot Coalition told the Post-Dispatch. "We're going to use people power, to change things."