ST. LOUIS – There are several events happening across the St. Louis area on the fifth anniversary of Michael Brown’s death.
At 9 a.m., Michael Brown Sr. held a press conference at the St. Louis County Justice Center to call for the opening of the investigation into his son’s death.
‘It was a day I thought I would never see, a day that has changed my life forever – although I have been forced to learn how to cope with his absence. I would never guess the fact that my son would no longer be here, and justice has not been served,’ Brown said.
Brown, 18, was unarmed when he was shot and killed by former Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson. Wilson was never charged.
Brown's mother, Lesley McSpadden, also has urged Bell to reopen the case.
Brown and a friend were walking down the middle of Canfield Drive when Wilson told them to move to the sidewalk. An exchange of words led to a fight inside Wilson's SUV. Brown got out and ran, then turned around to face the officer.
Wilson told investigators that he shot Brown — who was 6 feet, 4 inches tall and 290 pounds — in self-defense. Some people in the Canfield Green apartment complex near the shooting initially claimed Brown had his hands up in surrender, but the grand jury found no evidence to confirm that.
The shooting led to weeks of protests that included looting and violent confrontations between demonstrators and police officers, many in riot gear and with military-style weapons. Protests escalated again after the grand jury announcement on Nov. 24, 2014. Wilson resigned days after the announcement.
While the Justice Department declined to indict Wilson, it issued a report citing racial prejudice in the Ferguson Police Department and a municipal court system that made money through court fines and legal fees, costs largely borne by black residents. A consent agreement signed in 2016 requires significant reforms.
There's now a new chief law enforcement officer for St. Louis County.
Wesley Bell became the county's prosecuting attorney on Jan. 1, after defeating Bob McCulloch, whose administration oversaw the grand jury that did not indict Wilson. Brown Sr. said Bell's election represents an opportunity to have a fresh set of eyes take a look at his son's case.
Bell, 44, is among a wave of progressive prosecutors elected in recent years. His office seeks alternatives to incarceration when possible, such as some non-violent drug crimes. He has ended prosecution of most marijuana possession cases and reduced use of cash bail.
Bell would face no restrictions in re-examining Brown's death for potential murder charges. Wilson was never charged and tried, so there is no double-jeopardy. There is no statute of limitations on filing murder charges.
It would be unusual for a prosecutor to reopen an old case that's been so thoroughly examined, but not unheard of. A Philadelphia prosecutor initially declined to charge actor Bill Cosby with sexual assault, but a new prosecutor was elected and Cosby was charged and convicted.
If you missed it the press conference, you can watch it here:
A moment of silence was held at 11:55 a.m. at the rebuilt Michael Brown memorial along Canfield Drive.
Ferguson Community Day is happening until 6 p.m. at 9421 W. Florissant Road.
The ‘As I see you Exhibit’ goes on display to the public at 2 p.m. on Aug. 9 at the Ferguson Community Empowerment Center. The exhibit is a tribute to Michael Brown.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.