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ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT
Ferguson Grand Jury Decision is In, Awaiting Announcement; Governor Nixon Appeals for Calm
Aired November 24, 2014 - 19:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ERIN BURNETT, CNN ANCHOR: OUTFRONT tonight, breaking news. The grand jury's decision on Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson is coming shortly. We are standing by for an announcement.
Plus, an issue. Not if Darren Wilson shot and killed Michael Brown, but was Michael Brown surrendering with his hands up in surrender mode when he was shot? We break down the timeline of the shooting that has rocked the United States.
And indictment or no indictment. What is next for Darren Wilson?
Let's go OUTFRONT.
Well, a good evening to all. I'm Erin Burnett and welcome to our viewers from around the United States and the world.
OUTFRONT tonight, breaking news. The grand jury investigating the shooting death of Ferguson teenager Michael Brown has reached its decision. We are standing by for an announcement from the prosecutor's office.
Will Officer Darren Wilson be indicted?
The grand jury has been considering four possible charges against Wilson. First-degree murder, second-degree murder, voluntary manslaughter, and involuntary manslaughter. Or the fifth option. The nuclear option as far as some protesters say. No charges at all.
Michael Brown's family has been notified that there is a decision. They are done. They have been released. The jury has gone home. Michael Brown's family asked for a moment of silence tonight. In fact, four and a half minutes of silence to symbolize the four and a half hours that Brown's body was left by police to lie on a Ferguson street.
Minutes ago, Missouri Governor Jay Nixon made an appeal for calm.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. JAY NIXON (D), MISSOURI: Our shared hope and expectation is that regardless of the decision, people on all sides showed tolerance, mutual respect, and restraint.
(END VIDEO CLIP) BURNETT: Tonight OUTFRONT is covering every angle of this fast breaking story. Don Lemon is in Ferguson which was the center of the protest we've seen so far. Sara Sidner is outside Ferguson Police headquarters. Ed Lavandera is on the streets of Ferguson where protesters are starting to gather already. And Evan Perez is in Clayton, Missouri, right nearby, a few miles away.
That's where the grand jury met. That's where the decision and the prosecutor will make the announcement tonight of a charge or no charge. That is where we begin our coverage tonight.
And, Evan, from what we're hearing, this announcement keeps getting pushed back. Why? What's going on?
EVAN PEREZ, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: You know, Erin, that's actually one of the problems. I can tell you that a lot of people aren't happy that this decision -- that this announcement is being made so late. We know that -- you know, there's been a lot of conversation between state officials, federal officials and the prosecutor about when to do this.
The hope was that this would be done much earlier in the day because, you know, obviously, the later you go, then the more chance that, you know, these protests could get out of control. That was the fear at least from law enforcement.
Bob McCulloch, the prosecutor, the state prosecutor here, not really listening to anyone. It is his decision. He is the one that made the call. And he has decide that this needs to be done now. We know that law enforcement is ready. They've been put on alert around the country because they expect the protests and marches will be taking place in major cities around the country.
BURNETT: And Evan, of course, people may read into all this preparation at the last minute what they will in terms of whether there has been an indictment or not. You do have some new information, though, on Darren Wilson to share with us.
PEREZ: That's right. You know, Darren Wilson has been in talks to resign. And that's depending upon what the grand jury has found. And we know just from talking to sources just in the last few hours, those talks again were ongoing. They had hoped to come to an agreement for him to resign at the end of all of this. The last that we heard was that the deal was not done yet. And we expect that those talks will be continuing.
And I don't know how to read that because one of the things that he had decided was that he didn't want to resign until after the grand jury had done its work. The question was whether or not there was going to be an indictment. And so we didn't -- you know, it's hard to read whether exactly -- what exactly this signals for the decision from this grand jury -- Erin.
BURNETT: And Evan, my understanding is the National Guards has been heading into that building where you are.
Do you have any information as to why?
PEREZ: That's right. That's right. That was part of the plan that they county announced that they were going to bring the National Guard to help protect this building behind me because obviously this is where the prosecutor is going to -- is expected to make his announcement. This is where the grand jury has been meeting and obviously it's a very -- it's an important public building here in Clayton.
BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much, Evan.
As Evan gets more information on this fast-breaking story, we're going to bring it to you. Because again we need to emphasize, a decision has been made. There are plenty of people who know about it. There has not yet been a formal announcement as to what it is. Now we expect that, as we said, any time.
In the city of Ferguson, tension is building ahead of the announcement.
Sara Sidner is OUTFRONT. She's in Ferguson.
Sara, very shortly, people are going to know the outcome. You've been talking to people there. It looks like there's a lot of people gathering. What have they been saying to you?
SARA SIDNER, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Look, there's a lot of different folks here. About 75 people so far. And I've been here for two months watching the crowds come out. This is more than normal as you might imagine. And that honking that you're hearing, they're asking people to honk in support of an indictment. Most of the people out here want to see an indictment.
There are also people here who live here in Ferguson and who feel like they just want this to be over. This community has been on pins and needles for months now. We're talking three and a half months since Michael Brown was shot and killed by Officer Darren Wilson.
We have seen the officers come out. They were not wearing their riot gear which is pretty normal. They come out usually without it. But if they feel that things are getting more tense, if they feel that there is a potential for violence, they do go back and put that gear on.
I can tell you now that this protest is sort of on the sidewalk and folks are simply chanting. And what you will be seeing throughout the night is this crowd going larger and larger. Usually by an hour or two from now. It gets quite large. Especially now. Especially because people are going to gather here when they hear the decision.
We have also seen Michael Brown's father, Michael Brown Senior, drive past and have a quick word with the protesters and then drive on -- Erin.
BURNETT: Sara, thank you very much. And now, Daryl Parks, he's an attorney for Michael Brown's family
along with Mark O'Mara, our legal analyst, of course, in the Zimmerman case and our political commentator, Van Jones.
Daryl, let me start with you. I know the family had told you they were upset that they learned the grand jury had reached a decision from CNN. Not from the district attorney. Do they at this time know whether he was indicted or not?
DARYL PARKS, ATTORNEY FOR MICHAEL BROWN JR.'S FAMILY: They do not know. All they know is what you know, is that -- there will be an announcement later on today by the prosecutor. That's all they were told. And that was by a phone call, you know, to Attorney Gray's office there in Clayton, Missouri.
BURNETT: And Daryl, in terms of your understanding, they do anticipate that they will be told before the media and the general public, right?
PARKS: Well, no, we haven't been promised that. I mean -- and I think it's important here, Erin, that you know that normally you would have a victim's advocate from the prosecutor's office who would have guided them through the process and given them a little bit more information before the general public and the press. But we haven't had that in this case.
And I must tell you, my clients have expressed to us time and time again that they felt that they have not been treated right through this process. And so hopefully, that would change and would at least give them an indictment on this process. So we still remain very hopeful. They're praying for the best. They refuse to look at the negative.
And this guy will not be held accountable, that we won't get an indictment. So they continue to believe that there will be an indictment in this case.
BURNETT: All right, Mark, let me ask you about this issue. To remind our viewers there are 12 members of this jury. The decision must be nine members or more. It's not a simple majority.
MARK O'MARA, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Yes.
BURNETT: All right. Seven men, five women. Three of them are black, nine of them are white. Obviously race is an important part of this case.
O'MARA: No doubt.
BURNETT: Do you think this -- look, this grand jury understands the international significance of this case.
O'MARA: Without question.
BURNETT: Do you expect unanimity on an indictment or not?
O'MARA: I do.
BURNETT: Is it possible that they don't indict and it's on racial lines?
O'MARA: It could be. I'm certainly hopeful not. I think that the grand jury as a group is going to look at it and they're probably spending some time trying to become unanimous because they want to show a concerted front to whatever this is going to be. Whether it is an indictment or no true bill.
Because I know that they understand not only that locally, nationally, internationally, that everyone is going to both look at this and interpret it, analyze it and maybe critique it for years to come.
BURNETT: And so the unanimity could be so important.
Van, look, the grand jury has been able to discuss this case. I think this is important. They just finished getting all the evidence at the end of last week. They didn't make this decision this quickly, though. I mean, this isn't like a normal jury where they're not allowed to talk until they get the entire evidence. They were able to talk the whole time. Ninety-seven days.
So then the deliberation was very quick. I know you support an indictment. Do you think the quickness of this final deliberation is a sign that an indictment is likely or not?
VAN JONES, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: You know, it's very hard to know. I will say this. First of all, everybody's hearts have to be with the family of Mike Brown. I cannot imagine being a father, being a mother. You think we're on pins and needles. Imagine what they're going through. And the fact that they still have not been given just the courtesy that any victim would get of a heads up about what's going on.
It's just a shame. It's just horrible mistreatment of this family. And the whole -- everybody who knows about what's going on here is outraged about that.
Also I just -- I want to say with regard to the grand jury. You know, it's not just Mike Brown that's on trial or Darren Wilson. The whole system is on trial. And this grand jury has been handled in the worst possible way. A data dump, massive amounts of information. More than usual but with less guidance than I've ever seen from a prosecutor. If the prosecutor does not prosecute, an --
JONES: An indictment is impossible. And so what we're seeing right now -- I believe the first steps of what was going to be seen by a lot of people as a massive miscarriage of justice because the prosecutor did not do his job and prosecute in front of this grand jury.
BURNETT: Now of course the prosecutor, you know, at least his view is he tried to present every single piece of information because he didn't want anyone to say that anything withheld -- JONES: That's not normal.
BURNETT: Could have prejudiced it.
JONES: No. No. Listen, that is not normal.
JONES: The normal thing is you give enough information for a charge and then you give guidance. You don't do a data dump and no guidance. This is a complete miscarriage of justice already.
BURNETT: So, Daryl, let me ask you. If there is no indictment, will the family accept that?
PARKS: No, no, not at all. They know who killed their child. They've heard from the witnesses as to how and the manner in which Michael Brown Jr. was killed so there's no reason for them accept a grand jury that hasn't been properly instructed.
I have to agree with Van. Without question, to do a data dump and to not give direction to this grand jury is not the way to prosecute a case like this. The traditional way that it is done is you present enough evidence that gets the indictment which is basic. A very low threshold. And then act in a manner which you indicate to the grand jury that you wanted an indictment.
But to go into almost seem like neutral in the process which the prosecutor has led us to believe that he has done at this point certainly would not be right. So we are hopeful that they will come back with an indictment.
BURNETT: And, Mark, before we go, you disagree.
O'MARA: I disagree because, although it was done in a unique way, the fact that it's going to be completely transparent because we will see the transcripts are going to insulate the decision and the process. We get to look at it. If it was secret, I would agree with them, it's not going to be, we get to look at it.
BURNETT: All right. Thanks to all of you.
And next the key question for the grand jury. It does come down to this. Was Michael Brown charging Darren Wilson when he was shot? Or was he surrendering? With his hands in the air?
We're going to lay out for you exactly what we know.
Plus with protesters from all over the United States on the ground in Ferguson, will tonight's protests peacefully honor Michael Brown or spiral into violence?
And the man at the center of the story, Darren Wilson. He quietly married for the second time just last month. After tonight's decision is announced, what happens to Wilson?
BURNETT: And welcome back to our viewers in the United States and around the world tonight.
Breaking news. The Ferguson grand jury has made a decision and we are standing by for the announcement. Will Officer Darren Wilson be indicted for the shooting death of Michael Brown, an unarmed black teen?
That announcement is expected shortly. Crowds are gathering. Police are preparing for violence if Officer Wilson is not charged. Schools already canceled for tomorrow. Several businesses closed early and Don Lemon is OUTFRONT from Ferguson.
Don, to that point, businesses closing early, a grand jury decision, though, as far as we know came out early today. In the middle of the day at least. Yet they're not going to announce it until well after dark. If they don't want violence, do you have any sense as to why the delay on this announcement?
DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: Well, I mean, to most people, it doesn't really make any sense. Unless the officer is going to be indicted. And then you don't give people the build-in order to be able to gather in the cover of darkness, and all of those things. If the announcement had come down earlier in the day, most people were at work and a lot of people, quite frankly, aren't at work this week because it's a holiday week.
You know, the possibility of violence may not have been so much. Not that there's -- you know, we're assuming that there is going to be violence. But I think Jeffrey Toobin raised a good point and many other legal analysts I have been speaking to, and many of the community activists as well said, you know, if you are indeed not going to indict this officer to wait this amount of time, it doesn't really make any sense.
BURNETT: No. It doesn't. You would think -- I mean, I guess could you make the argument, if they had announced that earlier, people would have had more time to gather.
To you, Don, from your coverage, and you've been out there a lot of time, you've been out there multiple times, you were out there during the initial protests.
Do you have any sense from what they were doing today when they have the National Guard coming in. When they have this emergency announcement. Does any of that lead you to think which way they may be going?
LEMON: I'm not going to speculate. But I will tell you what the people have been saying that I've been speaking to here in the community and just through sources, is that all you -- just look at what has happened over the last few hours. So you haven't -- there's going to be an announcement. You have the highest official in the state coming out with the safety emergency person saying, we don't want violence. And if you sort of look at what's happening, it would sort of lead you
in one direction. Police don't want any violence. We're going to give everyone the chance to protest. And so, you know, they're -- most people here are under the assumption that the officer is not going to be indicted. And I think they made up their mind today that could not happen. Again I don't want to speculate. But it also -- they also started to make up their mind a few weeks ago as well.
BURNETT: All right. Don Lemon, thank you very much. We're going to be checking back in with Don.
Of course, as we know this announce is coming. We are awaiting it at any time and also of course whether news of it comes ahead of the formal announcement. Well, tensions have been rising in Ferguson for more than three months. That's when Michael Brown was shot and killed by Officer Darren Wilson. That fact is not in dispute.
So tonight a look at exactly what happened that day.
All right. Looks like we're just having an issue with that. When we get that, we'll bring it to you.
I want to bring in, though, now our analyst, Sunny Hostin, Jeff Roorda, business manager for the St. Louis Police Officers Association. He knows Darren Wilson. And also with me is Paul Callan, our legal analyst.
All right. Good to have all of you with us. Look. Here's the bottom line. There are different versions of what happened that night. I want to play for you actually just a quick clip of a few of the different versions, just to give everyone a sense that this is by no means a clear cut situation when you look at the witnesses.
Let me just play that for you.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. That's what they said.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Michael just bum rushes him. And just shoves him back in the car. Punches him in the face and then, of course, Darren grabs for his gun. And Michael grabs a gun.
DORIAN JOHNSON, EYEWITNESS TO MICHAEL BROWN SHOOTING: He puts his hands in the air and he started to get done. But the officer still approached with his weapon drawn and he fires several more shots. And my friend died.
TIFFANY MICHAEL, EYEWITNESS TO MICHAEL BROWN SHOOTING: The kid body jerked as if he was hit from behind. He turned around and he puts his hands up like this. And the cop continued to fire. And so he just dropped to the ground.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He put his hands inside the air, being compliant and still got shot down like a dog.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: All right. Jeff, when you hear all those accounts, most all of those support the view that he had his hands up in the air in surrender.
Do you think it's possible here -- you know, Darren Wilson, that something horribly, horribly wrong happened?
JEFF ROORDA, ST. LOUIS POLICE OFFICERS ASSOCIATION: Well, I think it's possible that Michael Brown put his hands in the air briefly before he charged the officer. I don't think that the forensics and the ballistics and the physical evidence that we know, and I don't claim to know everything the grand jury does, none of us do. But I don't think that supports the claims that are being made.
BURNETT: Sunny, what is your view of the fact that, you know, those -- most of those that we just played did support that he was putting his arms up in the air. That there was no reason to have shot him. And yet at the same time, according to the "Washington Post," more than half a dozen black eyewitnesses testified in front of the grand jury with testimony that was consistent with Officer Wilson's side of the story.
SUNNY HOSTIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, you know, the bottom line is the "Washington Post" may be reporting that but we haven't heard that. I haven't heard that. What I have heard is what you just played. So many of the witnesses that have been public, that have been on camera, that have immediately recounted what they believe they saw was Michael Brown with his hands up.
And I think what we need to remember, Erin, is the standard that's in front of the grand jury. It is one of probable cause. It is not beyond a reasonable doubt. It's a pretty low standard. It just means that a crime probably was committed. And when you have so many different versions of events and you have a group of witnesses that are pretty much saying the same thing, that to me swings the balance toward an indictment.
And so I'm actually surprised that so many people are suggesting that there will not be an indictment. Because certainly there's enough probable cause. As you see, I'm out here --
HOSTIN: In Ferguson and people are really talking about it. Everyone is pretty tense and just waiting for the decision.
BURNETT: And we heard that horn as people are gathering. We've heard 75 plus people already.
Paul Callan, to this crucial question, though, that Sunny raises, that people can't believe there wouldn't be an indictment. Why the delay?
First of all, I think it's incredible they've been able to keep this away from the media for many hours because they've had a decision since probably at least noon today. PAUL CALLAN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Yes.
BURNETT: We do not yet know what it is. Does -- what does the fact that they have delayed so long mean to you? They have waited until it is dark.
CALLAN: Well, first of all, you're right. It's very, very unusual. Usually you get these decisions right away. And you know, it's handed up to a judge and then it's announced publicly as to what the indictment is or a warrant is issued and the defendant is picked up if he's not somebody that we know of already.
So -- I mean, you know, I hesitate to go out on a limb and say that to me it suggests they're trying to move security forces into place because they anticipate a bad crowd reaction in the streets to this. Remember, originally we had a press scheduled for 8:00 where the announcement was going to be made. Now it's been moved to 9:00. Why would you be moving it another hour? I think the only reason can be that they don't have their security forces in place at this point.
BURNETT: So you think no indictment.
CALLAN: Well, it's certainly would suggest you more like would get a bad reaction on the street if there's no indictment but frankly any sort of indictment on a lesser charge could lead to a bad result on the streets.
BURNETT: And we should be clear to our viewers around the world, look, there are many charges. First-degree murder is one of them but they go all the way down to something like involuntary manslaughter which would still carry up to seven years in jail. But is not murder. Could still cause a lot of anger.
Jeff Roorda, do you think there is the possibility that there are peaceful protests? Or do you think that people are being too judgmental and frankly racist by assuming that there will be violence in Ferguson if there is not an indictment?
ROORDA: Well, I'm certainly not a racist and I expect violence. This talk about the timing of the announcement being some sort of precursor to violence, now that we know when the announcement is going to be is pretty disingenuous. I mean, we heard this narrative all throughout these protests, these violent, violent protests where there were -- where there were attempts to murder and injure police officers every night that this is a peaceful protest.
The fact that there are peaceful protesters among these violent protesters doesn't make it peaceful. These have been violent protests. And I hope for the best but I fear the worst.
BURNETT: Sunny, how bad do you think it will be if there is violence? How bad is that for the community in Ferguson? For the African- American community in Ferguson?
HOSTIN: Look, no one is -- no one wants violence. Civil disobedience is very American. It has been around for a long time. It's something that's been espoused by Perot and Ghandi and MLK. And it's our constitutional right as Americans to protest decisions and governmental actions that we disagree with. And so, you know, hopefully, if there are protests, there will -- there'll be peaceful protests.
But let me say this. You know, this happened on August 9th. It's been several months. There have been several days of protests. We're talking about almost threaten months of protests that have been peaceful. So this suggestion that there has been so much violence, that there's been so much rioting and so much looting around Ferguson and in Missouri. I just think it's really misleading.
The majority of the protests have been peaceful and again civil disobedience and peaceful protesting is a constitutional right.
BURNETT: It is. And I thank very much to all of you.
And we should emphasize to our viewers around the world. We know all of you and all of Americans are watching to see what the reaction will be.
OUTFRONT next, more breaking news. We are just moments away. We really don't know exactly when we may find out what the grand jury's decision is. We are standing by.
Plus, two men arrested over the weekend for trying to obtain guns and bombs to allegedly set off during the Ferguson protests.
And whether indicted for murder or completely free to go, what happens to the man you see there? That's Officer Darren Wilson who shot Michael Brown.
We'll be right back.
BURNETT: Welcome back to our viewers in the United States and around the world.
We have breaking news. The Ferguson grand jury has reached a decision in Missouri. We expect an announcement of that decision any moment. At this moment, the National Guard is securing the prosecutor's office. We also know Officer Darren Wilson has been in talks to resign from Ferguson Police Department but they haven't been finalized. They've been waiting for this decision.
The grand jury investigated the shooting death of Michael brown. He was shot by Police Officer Darren Wilson. We will soon hear if Wilson is charged with murder, something less or absolutely nothing at all.
Evan Perez is live in Clayton, Missouri, that is where the grand jury has been deliberating, about ten miles away from Ferguson.
And, Evan, the National Guard has entered the building behind you. We've been talking about the preparations. We've been talking about, the delay after delay in the announcement of this decision. What can you tell us?
PEREZ: Yes, Erin, you know, just in the last half-hour or so, we saw the national guardsmen go into this building which is where the prosecutor's office is housed. We know also that they've gone to secure some other buildings here in the county, important county buildings.
Now, you know, it's interesting because, you know, the governor activated the national guard almost a week ago and declared a state of emergency. But until today, they have really been out of sight. They had not been visible at all.
Now, they're very visible. We saw them go into this building. We know that law enforcement around the country has been scrambling to get ready, because a lot of people were expecting some notice from this prosecutor before an announcement.
In the end, they didn't get very much of that. He was not very communicative about what his plans were. And now, they've had a few hours to make sure everything was in place and get ready for what they expect to be demonstrations, not only here, but also in Chicago, in New York, elsewhere around the country, and obviously, in Ferguson as well.
BURNETT: All right. Evan Perez, thank you very much.
As Evan gets more information there outside where the grand jury made its decision, the prosecutor will make the formal announcement. We're going to bring that to you.
Right now, though, I want to bring in the president of the St. Louis County Police Association, Gabe Crocker.
Gabe, good to have you with us.
Sir, is there anything you can tell us about your understanding of why this has been delayed and delayed?
GABE CROCKER, PRESIDENT, ST. LOUIS COUNTY POLICE ASSOCIATION: Well, I can only imagine the am of logistical issues that our prosecuting attorney, Bob McCulloch, is dealing with.
So, I don't think it is anything intentional. I don't think we should read anything into it. Just like the night before Christmas. We all get a little excited. We get a little impatient. So, on and so forth. I'm absolutely sure there's nothing behind this, other than just logistical issues and making sure, you know, that the T's are crossed and the I's are dotted.
BURNETT: Today, we saw a car emblazoned with the words, "no justice, no peace", on the side. As our reporters were getting ready, you can see it here. We the people, no justice, no peace.
Do you expect violence?
CROCKER: Well, you know, I would like to say that I don't expect violence. The law enforcement command here in the St. Louis region is certainly prepared for some level of violence. I think just like anybody else watching your program right now go, in the United States or around the world, wouldn't it be great if the situation didn't escalate to violence? But it is certainly possible that it can. And, you know, I just wish it wouldn't. We're prepared for it if it does.
BURNETT: To the point you're making that you're prepared for it, there were reports there were two men with the New Black Panther Party, allegedly with the intent of using explosives in Ferguson. Do you know anything more about that and whether there is concern about others who may have prepared more successfully to do the same?
CROCKER: Well, what I can tell you is this. That's not protesting. I'll be very, very clear. That's domestic terrorism. That's -- you know, when you plant bombs and you do those things, that's not protesting. That's terrorism. We don't want to stand for that obviously.
You know, does the possibility exist that someone else has done something successful and may have a bomb or may be planning something to that degree? Certainly. That's something that we're prepared for and we have bomb disposal units. We have everybody at the ready. But again, there's no, I don't personally have knowledge that there's anything like that taking place. And I certainly hope not.
BURNETT: And you're saying at this point, you don't have any indication what the decision might be, even though as there have been delays, there have been more and more announcements about police presence?
CROCKER: I can tell you 100 percent I have no idea what the grand jury's decision is. And of course, after that, the decision, that's when my role and the roles of other law enforcement people in St. Louis are going to take effect. And, of course, it is going on from right now with your live footage you have going on.
BURNETT: Yes, absolutely, Gabe Crocker, thank you very for your time.
And as Gabe is mentioning, what you could see, let me just show it to you. Obviously, darkness has fallen. We've been talking about this. There's been a grand jury decision since the middle of the day. It hasn't been announced.
So, during that time, they -- a lot of businesses announced they would close early. But what we have now is darkness in Ferguson, Missouri. And we have crowds of protesters gathering.
Just at the top of this hour, in one location, where one of our reporters has gone from 75 to 100-plus people gathered.
Van Jones is also in Ferguson and he is back with me now.
Van, you've been in Ferguson three time during this crisis. What is the mood tonight?
JONES: Well, the mood is earlier today, people were very depress and they're feeling very anxious. Now, people are beginning to get concerned about the way the family is being treated. They don't understand why this family, any crime victim by now, you would have had some outreach to the family. They've heard nothing. That is not a good sign in terms of the level of disrespect. That is a concern.
Also again, people who have not been paying attention to the story has to remember, there were many opportunities to have a much more fair process that everybody could have bought into.
The governor could have sent in a special prosecutor. He did not.
The prosecutor could have filed charges. He did not. He could have had a normal grand jury where he actually told the grand jury how he wanted to go forward. He did not. He had a hands-on approach, did a big data dump on the ground jury. All of these things have created a lack of confidence in the process.
JONES: So, now, you have people beginning to guard themselves for what they believe will be a massive miscarriage of justice tonight. And they're concerned that the way this family is being treated.
BURNETT: And let me just for our viewers just joining us, to let people know, with the flame at least has told -- the family lawyer was just on this program, said they did not -- they actually found out that there was a decision in this case from CNN. They did not find it out from the prosecutor. So, that's what Van is referring to at this time.
JONES: I can't tell you -- and I can't tell you, this family is being held very closely by people who care about these issues and care about this kid. For the family to be sitting there, just treated like everybody else, a crime victim. No matter what. Somebody dies.
Ordinarily, the police would be reaching out to this family. They would be saying, here's what's going on. That is not happening. It is a massive disrespect to this family.
BURNETT: Van, we're short of time, but I have to ask you. There are 12 members of this jury. They need nine as a majority. What if it is unanimous and it is to not indict. You have nine whites, three blacks. They all agree don't indict. Would that mean there's less violence?
JONES: Well, listen, first of all, you keep saying there's going to be violence. There has been no violence for many, many days.
Here's the reality, ordinarily, you say a grand jury will indict a ham sandwich if the prosecutor wants that. In this case, the prosecutor has not prosecuted. And so, if you just dump data on people and ask them what they think, that is not a fair process. I don't care if the entire jury is African-American.
Unfortunately, this is a situation where you have the majority white grand jury that has been treated in a way that no grand jury I ever heard of been treated, a data dump, no direction. No indictment means this whole process has been flawed from the beginning.
BURNETT: Van Jones, thank you very much.
Breaking news. We are expecting that announcement on the Ferguson grand jury decision. It could come at any moment.
And Darren Wilson, he has actually not been publicly seen since the shooting. But we are learning what he did. He got married for one. What else is happening to him?
And as we await this announcement, why are officials making this in the dark of night? Why so late?
BUNRETT: Breaking news, we are standing by to hear the grand jury's decision on whether Officer Darren Wilson will be charged with the murder of 18-year-old Michael Brown.
The National Guard has moved in around the prosecutor's office. That's where the grand jury met. That's where the announcement is going to be made.
And tonight, we are learning Darren Wilson is negotiating his resignation from the Ferguson Police Department.
Ed Lavandera is OUTFRONT live in Ferguson.
And, Ed, we know he's been talking about stepping down if he's not indicted. But we don't yet have the formal decision yet. What are you learning?
ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We think that a lot of that hinges on exactly what will be announced tonight, and just how all of that will play out. You'd be hard pressed to find anybody here on the streets of Ferguson, at least in these particular neighborhoods, where an Officer Like Darren Wilson will be welcomed back on the streets. So, it's hard to imagine to see him patrolling.
But we've also learned today oddly enough, Erin, that Darren Wilson was married late last month. We knew that he had a girlfriend that he had been living with in a town not too far away from here in Ferguson. But we learned today that he was married by a municipal judge in a town nearby Ferguson. And that he was recently married.
His new wife, this is his second marriage -- his new wife hams to be a police officer with the Ferguson police department as well, Erin.
BURNETT: Which is pretty amazing. What do we know about her? We know she is a few years older, we know that she's also been married before but nothing more at this point, right?
LAVANDERA: No. Not much. You know, as much as we have not seen Darren Wilson since the shooting has taken place, his new wife was obviously not been seen or heard from as well.
BURNETT: All right. Ed Lavandera, thank you very much. Ed live in Ferguson as well.
And let's talk about what happens for Officer Wilson. Our legal analyst Mark O'Mara is OUTFRONT.
You've dealt with this with George Zimmerman, first hand. So let's just start with, if he is indicted. Would he have to turn himself in right away?
BURNETT: Would he possibly already be in custody?
O'MARA: He might already be in custody, or he's to turn himself in right away. Then, he has to be arraigned, they show him the charges and he's got to go to a bond hearing where the judge can determine whether or not he gets out pending the trial. And that trial can be a year, a year and a half away.
BURNETT: And would they have done all of this? I mean, the decision was made as we know, hours ago, seven or eight hours ago. They haven't announced it yet.
BURNETT: But would some of this have already happened theoretically?
O'MARA: Sure, I would imagine if there was an indictment, they may have had to reach out to the defense team to say he's been indicted, bring him in, just to, you know, sort of, be certain about him and his safety.
BURNETT: The family says though of Michael Brown, but they haven't heard anything.
O'MARA: Surprising and they should know soon. Out of respect they should know before the public finds out.
BURNETT: We should hope so.
Now, what would happen if there is no charge? We can the Brown family will not accept that, they will go ahead. So, then what happens to Darren Wilson?
O'MARA: Well, he'll get sued I would imagine, for wrongful death and the Ferguson Police Department will be will have get sued. But what will he do with his life? He will never be a law enforcement officer again. How could you ever after situations like this? Taking a life in and of itself might lead you away from law enforcement.
BURNETT: So, you represented George Zimmerman, of course. George Zimmerman, you got a not guilty. George Zimmerman's life has not been good since then.
O'MARA: No. It hasn't.
BURNETT: What would it be like for Officer Wilson? As you said, he can never be in law enforcement again. He is now married to a woman who presumably also will not be able to keep her job.
O'MARA: Very difficult. You know, George Zimmerman, the way he hand what happened, it really affected him. He was damaged goods in that sense. I don't know how Wilson is going to be handle the idea of having taken a life, that part of it itself.
But also, he is now the focus of a lot of people's anger because of the way to look at the situation. So, he's not going to be able to be out in public. He's not going to be able to do anything that is a public job anymore.
BURNETT: All right. Mark O'Mara, thank you very much.
And OUTFRONT next, we're standing by for that announcement of the grand jury decision. At any moment, look, the decision was made early today. Yet as you just heard, at least from what the family attorney told us, Michael Brown's family handle been told what it is yet. In fact, they weren't even told there was a decision. They heard about it here on CNN. Why have officials waited so long?
And gun sale in Ferguson have surged. Most of the recently (INAUDIBLE) protesters had been what police called outside agitators not from Ferguson. What will we see tonight? Peace or violence?
BURNETT: Breaking news: we expect to find out at any if the grand jury will indict Ferguson Missouri Police Officer Darren Wilson for the murder of unarmed teenager Michael Brown.
Happening right now, the National Guard is securing the area around the prosecutor's office. They're going to make a formal announcement there. We're also learning that Darren Wilson is negotiating his resignation from the Ferguson Police Department, which, of course, would be relevant if he's not indicted.
In the days following the shooting, protesters took control of Ferguson's streets, these images were seen around the world. Violence, tear gas, tanks, guns pointed at civilians. They were seen around the world. And protesters tonight are now gathering at the Ferguson Police Department.
Joining me now is Patricia Bynes. She's a Democratic committeewoman for Ferguson Township.
And I appreciate you taking the time to be with me tonight, Committeewoman.
In terms of what we expect to see tonight, if there is no indictment, you know, you just heard one of the police officers union representatives saying, yes, sure, there's going to be violence. What do you think?
PATRICIA BYNES, FERGUSON TOWNSHIP DEMOCRATIC COMMITTEEWOMAN: Well, I think it's sad that there's this expectation of violence. I don't expect violence. While we should be prepared, it's not something that should be expected. That's crazy.
BURNETT: Right. And we all, of course, hope there will not be. I know they've taken, as you point out, every precaution in the hopes this will be peaceful.
What do you make, Committeewoman, of the delay today? I know that you have been waiting all day an announcement of what this might be. We know the grand jury reached its decision seven, eight hours ago, at least as far as we know. And we still have not yet heard what it is.
BYNES: Well, it does seem a little odd. You know, I don't know what's going on behind the scene, but I will say that in preparing for this announcement, you have to make sure that everything is in place.
So, while I'm not an expert in public safety, I'm sure that upon knowing there's been an announcement, there had to be moves made in place, national guard put in certain positions, officers, law enforcement at all levels that are here in St. Louis have to be in place and prepared. So, they should give enough time for that to make precaution.
BURNETT: And, Committeewoman, look, know if you can see this, but our viewers are now seeing protesters with their armed linked blocking an intersection, sort of standing in a human chain, some with arms linked, some of them just standing there, but blocking an intersection.
During the August protest, the whole world saw police in riot gear, tanks, rifles pointed at protesters, there was tear gas. Do you think we could see scenes like this again?
BYNES: What you saw in august was militarization and police violence. Hopefully, with everything that we as an entire world have learned, we should see a lot of those images again. We should be working on de- escalation, which means communication, which means not bringing out the riot gear and the batons and the tear gas and the SWAT tanks as a first response.
So, we should not see that again, hopefully.
BURNETT: And, and, and do you believe there will be an indictment? Do you believe that's the right thing for the community?
BYNES: And what I'm expecting is for justice to be done. And when we ask about is there an indictment, we wonder is there a reason to take this to trial. I think that we've seen enough with leaked information, details that don't seem to be consistent in the police report to maybe warrant that there should be an indictment. But history lets us know that there won't be and we're fighting against history.
BURNETT: Thank you very much. I appreciate your time very much. As we're looking at those live pictures, we're going to take a brief break. We'll be right back with our breaking news coverage.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) BURNETT: Welcome back to our breaking news coverage.
You're looking at live pictures right now in Ferguson, Missouri, as protesters are gathering. We're moments away from an announcement of the grand jury decision whether to indict Officer Darren Wilson for the murder of unarmed teen Michael Brown. Officer Wilson, white, Michael Brown, black.
At this hour, the National Guard has been moving around the prosecutor's office to secure it ahead of the announcement, mainly leads you to think there's no indictment. But we have absolutely nothing to indicate that or anything else. No information.
I want to bring in now, Paul Callan, a criminal defense attorney and former prosecutor.
Paul, everyone reading into this their interpretation, oh, there's a delay because there's an indictment. There's a delay because there's no indictment. It is, to me, simply incredible the eight-hours-plus have passed. The grand jury has gone home. And probably hundreds of people at this time know the decision. And yet the world does not.
CALLAN: I don't agree with you on that, that hundreds of people know the decision because remember, this grand jury was criticized because there were leaks not that long ago. And by the way --
CALLAN: -- if a grand jury leaks information, that's a crime. They can go to jail for that. So, I'm betting --
BURNETT: So, you're thinking they can't even tell their spouse or child.
CALLAN: Well, no, I'm betting the hammer came down on this and everybody was warned, you say anything and there's going to be a criminal investigation. So, I don't -- I'm thinking the grand jurors probably wouldn't have leaked it. Other people might have. But I think everybody --
BURNETT: There's a lot of other people who know but they are afraid. All right.
So, but this whole issue, Van Jones has been talking about that the family's very upset, the prosecutor, they say, quote-unquote, "data dumped", threw all this information to the grand jury, too much information. The prosecutor says he did that so that they have everything, so nobody could say later. But you didn't give this crucial piece of information.
What's your take?
CALLAN: I've been trying cases for a lot of years. And I have never in my life heard a prosecutor criticized by a defense attorney for giving too much information. I mean, essentially, the prosecutor gave every scrap of information that was available. That suggest information, not trying to confuse a jury.
BURNETT: So, you think this is going to be a fair outcome whatever it is.
CALLAN: They will have had all of the evidence. It's a citizen panel and we just have to hope they did the right thing.
BURNETT: And you think it will be unanimous, that is the question. And again, to remind our viewers, nine of them are white, three of them are black out of 12.
CALLAN: I'm betting it's not going to be unanimous. But I tell you something, they almost never reveal what the vote split is in grand jury determinations. So --
BURNETT: All right. Paul Callan, thank you very much.
As we await this decision moments away, let's hand it off to Anderson.