The white police officer who shot and killed unarmed black teenager Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, is unlikely to face federal civil rights charges for his role in the incident, according to a Friday report by the Washington Post.
Officials familiar with the ongoing civil rights investigation conducted by the Justice Department stated that detectives feel there is not sufficient evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Officer Darren Wilson willfully violated Brown’s rights, the report claimed.
If true, the news would underscore the difficulty of proving if and when an officer intends to violate an individual’s civil rights.
Rachel Harmon, a University of Virginia law professor, told the Post that Wilson’s case could be bolstered if he “genuinely believed” that his actions were in self-defense.
“There is an extra burden in federal civil rights cases because the statute requires that the defendant acted ‘willfully,’” Harmon added.“It is not enough to prove that he used too much force. You have to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that he did so willfully.”