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St. Louis Grand Jury Heard Witnesses Who Lied, Prosecutor Says

Some witnesses were clearly lying when they spoke to a grand jury about the August police killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., according to St. Louis County prosecuting attorney Robert McCulloch. In an interview about the case Friday, the prosecutor says he won't seek perjury charges.

Nearly a month after he announced the grand jury's decision not to indict Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson, McCulloch told St. Louis radio station KTRS 550 AM that he hasn't spoken publicly about the Michael Brown case because "I didn't want to fire things up."

In the interview, KTRS host McGraw Milhaven also asked McCulloch to explain why he made the announcement on the night of Nov. 24, the Monday before Thanksgiving.

"There was no good time to announce this," McCulloch answered.

As you'll recall, McCulloch also arranged for hundreds of pages of grand jury documents to be released about the case, bringing an unusual chance for close analysis of the evidence the panel considered.

Here are some excerpts from the interview:

Lying Under Oath And Perjury

"It's a legitimate issue. 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.

"But I thought it was much more important to present the entire picture and say listen, this is what this witness says he saw — even though there was a building between where the witness says he was and where the events occurred, so they couldn't have seen that. Or the physical evidence didn't support what the witness was saying. And it went both directions. ...

"I thought it was much more important that the grand jury hear everything, what people have to say — and they're in a perfect position to assess the credibility, which is what juries do."

On Releasing The Findings After Dark

"There was no good time to announce this. Whatever was going to happen was going to happen. We knew that very early on. But I did work very closely with law enforcement. ... I decided early on that I would release it as soon as practicable after the grand jury made a decision. ...

"What occurred afterward was unfortunate; there are a variety of reasons that that may have occurred. Some people were bent on destruction, regardless of when this was going to be released. I thought it was more important to get the information out as quickly as possible. I think waiting longer would have aggravated things."

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Bill Chappell is a writer and editor on the News Desk in the heart of NPR's newsroom in Washington, D.C.
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