As It Happens

Former prosecutor on what's next in Ferguson and pending federal civil rights investigations

After yesterday's grand jury decides not to indict Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson in the shooting death of unarmed teenager Michael Brown, many are saying that protests and rage is all that's left. However, a former prosecutor and others are looking ahead to two ongoing U.S. Justice Department investigations....

After yesterday's grand jury decides not to indict Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson in the shooting death of unarmed teenager Michael Brown, many are saying that protests and rage is all that's left. However, a former prosecutor and others are looking ahead to two ongoing U.S. Justice Department investigations.

Currently, the federal government is weighing whether officer Wilson should face civil rights charges.

"I think it's going to be a difficult case for the federal government to prosecute," William Yeomans, a former prosecutor who spent almost 25 years in the U.S. Justice Department's Civil Rights Division, tells As It Happens host Carol Off. "I think the odds of that happening are slim, but I certainly won't say none."

The other option being weighed is a possible civil case against the Ferguson police department, and an examination of systemic problems within the force.

"The federal government can also pursue... a court order that transforms the way the Ferguson police department does business," Yeoman says. "Everything from its hiring to the rules governing the use of force, to how it trains its officers, to how it relates to the community. I suspect that investigation will go forward and will likely produce significant changes in the Ferguson police department."

Yeomans says such a court order could change the way police officers are represented. Currently, he says, there are just three black police officers of 52 serving in the predominantly black community.

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