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Conflict of Interest?

by on November 25, 2014

Last night, a grand jury decided to not bring criminal charges against Officer Darren Wilson for the murder of Michael Brown, an unarmed black teen on August 9th. This morning, an article came to my attention stating that the prosecuting attorney on the case, Robert P. McCulloch has a long family history of police involvement. McCulloch lost his father in the line of duty when he was only 12 and his mother, brother, uncle, and cousin worked for the St. Louis police department.
This rightfully raised doubts about his ability to be objective in deciding the future of Wilson. There is a clear conflict of interest with this story and it boggles my mind that with such a glaring conflict of interest, McCulloch was still allowed to decide on the case.
Is it possible for someone who is so closely connected with the St. Louis police department to be able to be objective on an issue involving police? Is it possible that McCulloch may be biased toward deciding that the officer acted in self defense, when his own father was killed on the job? I think that both are certainly possibilities. It is easy to hold authority figures to a high standard but it must be remembered that no matter the professional position we are in, we are all human. We all experience similar emotions and most of us have the ability to empathize with others feelings.
If I was in McCulloch’s situation, I feel as though it would be difficult to separate my personal experience with law enforcement from the case I was covering. Losing a member of my immediate family in the line of duty would be an event that weighs heavily on my mind and conscious. Having so many members of my family employed by a police department would make it near impossible to see the police force as something other than family.
What do you think? Should he have been the one deciding on this case? Do you think you would be able to separate you personal life from making a decision on this case? The jury that was deciding on this issue needed 9 out of the 12 jurors to agree. Of the 12 jurors, 9 were white. Does that raise suspicions or concerns about the objectivity on the case? Is this conflict of interest?


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One Comment
  1. I believe this is a huge conflict of interest. There are too many similarities between Robert McCulloch’s personal experiences and the Michael Brown case. St. Louis has long been known to be one of the nation’s most segregated metropolitan areas. St. Louis and Ferguson both struggle with poorer black residents that are being led by a majority white police force and city councilmen. Doing more research about McCulloch’s father, he was killed in the line of duty by a black man. Knowing that, how can the public trust that McCulloch can separate his personal feelings and emotions from law enforcement? While I’m not saying it’s impossible, I just think they should have chosen someone else who has not had the personal experiences McCulloch did.

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