The Washington Post

Objectivity of prosecutor in Missouri shooting of Michael Brown is questioned

St. Louis County Executive Charlie Dooley on Friday said he is leading an effort to remove the county prosecutor from investigating the Michael Brown case because he thinks the prosecutor’s personal experiences and recent statements have tainted his ability to act objectively.

Brown, a black 18-year-old, was fatally shot by Officer Darren Wilson last Saturday in Ferguson, Mo. Wilson is white.

Dooley’s spokeswoman, Pat Washington, said there have been long-standing concerns among many black leaders in the community regarding County Prosecutor Robert McCulloch’s ability to handle such cases because his father was killed in the line of duty when McCulloch was 12 years old. The man who shot his father was black.

Most recently, she said, Dooley feels McCulloch crossed a line when he publicly criticized a decision this week by Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon (D) to bring in the State Highway Patrol to lead efforts to quell the violent street protests that erupted after the shooting of Brown.

“He injected himself in a matter in a way that further exacerbates the community distrust of him,” Washington said. “Rather than stay focused on the investigation, the prosecuting attorney decided to wade over into a whole other area and challenge the governor. He inflamed the community, which already distrusts him.”

Washington said Dooley had called the state attorney general’s office to determine how a special prosecutor could be appointed in place of McCulloch and was told there was a petition process for doing so, which he is looking into. Dooley was planning to meet Friday night with several local and state elected officials who Washington said have voiced similar concerns about McCulloch, but she declined to identify who would be at the private meeting.

Ed Magee, a McCulloch spokesman, said his office believes the county prosecutor cannot be removed from the case.

“There is no petition process,” Magee said. “We are working with the county police. We will continue to work with them if it proceeds to the grand jury and beyond if necessary.”

Magee declined to comment further about Dooley’s accusations.

McCulloch has been the St. Louis County prosecutor for more than 20 years, and during that time has been involved with a support group called BackStoppers, which helps the families of police officers killed in the line of duty.

The prosecutor’s father, Paul McCulloch, was a St. Louis police officer when he was gunned down July 2, 1964, at age 37 while trying to arrest a kidnapper. He had answered a call by an officer in need of assistance at a housing complex and died in a shootout. One of the shooters was wounded and was later convicted of murder.

This is not the first time McCulloch’s objectivity has been questioned because of how his father died.

In July 2000, questions were raised about his leading an investigation into two white police officers who fatally shot two black men. The two officers, undercover drug agents, shot Earl Murray and Ronald Beasley, both unarmed, on June 12, 2000, in the parking lot of a fast-food restaurant in the St. Louis suburb of Berkeley. A county grand jury declined to indict the officers; McCulloch said he agreed with the decision.

“My father was killed many, many years ago, and it’s certainly not something you forget, but it’s certainly not something that clouds my judgment in looking at a case,” McCulloch told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch at the time. “It certainly makes you more aware of the severity of it.”

Alice Crites, Mark Berman, Carol Leonnig and Manuel Roig-Franzia contributed to this report.

Kimberly Kindy is a national investigative reporter at The Washington Post.

The Freddie Gray case

Please provide a valid email address.

You’re all set!

Campaign 2016 Email Updates

Please provide a valid email address.

You’re all set!

Get Zika news by email

Please provide a valid email address.

You’re all set!
Comments
Show Comments
The Democrats debated Thursday night. Get caught up on the race.
The Post's Chris Cillizza on the Democratic debate...
On Clinton: She poked a series of holes in Sanders's health-care proposal and broadly cast him as someone who talks a big game but simply can't hope to achieve his goals.

On Sanders: If the challenge was to show that he could be a candidate for people other than those who already love him, he didn't make much progress toward that goal. But he did come across as more well-versed on foreign policy than in debates past.
The PBS debate in 3 minutes
Quoted
We are in vigorous agreement here.
Hillary Clinton, during the PBS Democratic debate, a night in which she and Sanders shared many of the same positions on issues
South Carolina polling averages
Donald Trump leads in the polls as he faces rivals Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz heading into the S.C. GOP primary on Feb. 20.
South Carolina polling averages
The S.C. Democratic primary is Feb. 27. Clinton has a significant lead in the state, whose primary falls one week after the party's Nevada caucuses.
62% 33%
Fact Checker
Trump’s claim that his border wall would cost $8 billion
The billionaire's claim is highly dubious. Based on the costs of the Israeli security barrier (which is mostly fence) and the cost of the relatively simple fence already along the U.S.-Mexico border, an $8 billion price tag is simply not credible.
Pinocchio Pinocchio Pinocchio Pinocchio
Upcoming debates
Feb 13: GOP debate

on CBS News, in South Carolina

Feb. 25: GOP debate

on CNN, in Houston, Texas

March 3: GOP debate

on Fox News, in Detroit, Mich.

Campaign 2016
Where the race stands
Most Read

politics

Success! Check your inbox for details.

See all newsletters

Close video player
Now Playing

To keep reading, please enter your email address.

You’ll also receive from The Washington Post:
  • A free 6-week digital subscription
  • Our daily newsletter in your inbox

Please enter a valid email address

I have read and agree to the Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.

Please indicate agreement.

Thank you.

Check your inbox. We’ve sent an email explaining how to set up an account and activate your free digital subscription.