Lawmaker calls for investigation of Ferguson prosecutor McCulloch


Bob McCulloch
Bob McCulloch

ST. LOUIS – A state lawmaker from St. Louis has asked a legislative committee to investigate St. Louis County Prosecutor Bob McCulloch, saying Friday that she was concerned he “manipulated” the grand jury in the Michael Brown case.

A joint House and Senate committee is investigating why Gov. Jay Nixon did not use National Guard troops to prevent burning and looting in Ferguson on Nov. 24, the night McCulloch announced that the grand jury would not indict Ferguson officer Darren Wilson in the August shooting death of 18-year-old Michael Brown.

Rep. Karla May, a St. Louis Democrat, sent a letter Thursday to committee chairman Sen. Kurt Schaefer, asking that the investigation expand to look at whether McCulloch committed prosecutorial misconduct.

“Many St. Louis-area residents believe – and there is at least some evidence to suggest – that Mr. McCulloch manipulated the grand jury process from the beginning to ensure that Officer Wilson would not be indicted,” May wrote.

She said in an interview that McCulloch should have removed himself from the case at the outset.

“I don’t believe he followed proper procedures when he presented evidence to the grand jury,” May said. “To me, he was working for the defendant in this case and not the victim.”

Messages left Friday with Schaefer were not immediately returned.

A spokesman for McCulloch also did not return a message. McCulloch said after the announcement that the grand jury process was fair. He said he assigned prosecutors in his office to present the evidence, rather than himself, because he was “fully aware of unfounded but growing concern that the investigation might not be fair.”

Critics had called for McCulloch to either step aside or for Nixon to appoint a special prosecutor, citing concerns about whether McCulloch could fairly oversee the case. McCulloch’s father was a police officer killed in the line of duty by a black assailant in the 1960s.

McCulloch said the jury of nine whites and three blacks met on 25 separate days over three months, hearing more than 70 hours of testimony from about 60 witnesses, including three medical examiners and experts on blood, toxicology and firearms and other issues.

Violence broke out soon after the grand jury announcement, mostly in and near Ferguson, where 12 businesses were destroyed by fires. Several police cars were also burned, and other businesses were damaged. Ferguson Mayor James Knowles III and others expressed anger that of the hundreds of National Guard troops dispatched to the St. Louis region that night, none were in Ferguson at the time of the announcement.

No timetable has been set for the legislative committee’s investigation.