Despite repeated calls for him to step aside and allow a special prosecutor to investigate the shooting of Michael Brown, the St. Louis County prosecuting attorney again said that he would not recuse himself from the case.
“As I have stated repeatedly, I have no intention of walking away from the responsibilities and duties entrusted to me by the people of this community,” Robert McCulloch said in a statement delivered Thursday in all capital letters.
McCulloch had previously insisted that he would not step aside, telling a radio station on Wednesday that he considers himself “fair and impartial in every matter” considered by his office.
On Thursday, he said that he understands “the concerns of those who honestly believe that I cannot or will not be fair” in the Michael Brown case, but added that he does not believe he should recuse himself and allow a special prosecutor to take over.
McCulloch also said that he believes it would be a mistake for Gov. Jay Nixon (D) to remove him from the case. But he called on anyone who wants him removed to reach out to Nixon and demand that the governor make a decision one way or the other “and end this distraction.”
Nixon issued a statement Tuesday saying he would not ask McCulloch to recuse himself, but he did not offer the prosecutor any kind of endorsement. Instead, Nixon said that there’s a process by which McCulloch can step aside and have a special prosecutor appointed, and not following this process “could unnecessarily inject legal uncertainty” into the entire case.
Those demanding that McCulloch step aside have pointed to his history in arguing that he cannot be impartial. McCulloch’s father, a white police officer in St. Louis, was shot and killed by a black man in the line of duty when McCulloch was 12. In 2000, McCulloch oversaw an investigation into two white police officers who shot and killed two black men; after a grand jury declined to indict them, McCulloch said he agreed with that decision.
More recently, McCulloch lambasted Nixon (D) for putting the State Highway Patrol in control of Ferguson’s security last week, saying the move could “put a lot of people in danger.” McCulloch has also criticized Nixon for failing to say one way or the other if the prosecutor should remain on the case, calling on him to “man up” during the radio interview Wednesday.
Elected officials including St. Louis County Executive Charlie Dooley and State Sen. Jamilah Nasheed (D-St. Louis) have both cited concerns among the black community about McCulloch’s objectivity in calling for a special prosecutor. And on Thursday, the NAACP said it was also calling for a special prosecutor and was asking people to write to Nixon and Attorney General Chris Koster (D) asking that they remove McCulloch from the case.