- The prosecutor who led the grand jury investigation into the August 9 police shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, said he was aware that some eyewitnesses were lying.
- The admission could mean the prosecutor, St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Robert McCulloch, knowingly violated ethical and legal requirements to not knowingly present false evidence.
- Several news reports in the past week have uncovered false or contradictory statements from witnesses in the Ferguson grand jury, which on November 24 decided not to press criminal charges against Darren Wilson for the Brown shooting.
McCulloch repeatedly acknowledged some witnesses were lying
St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Robert McCulloch told radio station KTRS that he let some witnesses testify "even though their statements were not accurate."
"I knew that no matter how I handled this, there would be criticism of it," McCulloch said. "So if I didn't put those witnesses on, then we'd be discussing now why I didn't put those witnesses on even though their statements were not accurate."
He later added, "I thought it was much more important to present anybody and everybody and some that, yes, clearly were not telling the truth. No question about it."
McCulloch said he won't charge the witnesses involved with perjury. But he acknowledged, "There were people who came in and, yes, absolutely lied under oath."
McCulloch suggested he knew Witness 40 was being dishonest
One witness McCulloch believed was lying matches several news outlets' description of Witness 40, who told the grand jury that Brown charged at Wilson before the officer fired the final shots that killed him.
"[T]his lady clearly wasn't present when this occurred," McCulloch said. "She recounted a statement that was right out of the newspaper about Wilson's actions, and right down the line with Wilson's actions. Even though I'm sure she was nowhere near the place."
Earlier this week, the Smoking Gun's William Bastone, Andrew Goldberg, and Joseph Jesselli reported that Witness 40 had a history of racism and likely wasn't at the scene of the shooting:
The grand jury witness who testified that she saw Michael Brown pummel a cop before charging at him "like a football player, head down," is a troubled, bipolar Missouri woman with a criminal past who has a history of making racist remarks and once insinuated herself into another high-profile St. Louis criminal case with claims that police eventually dismissed as a "complete fabrication," The Smoking Gun has learned.
In interviews with police, FBI agents, and federal and state prosecutors — as well as during two separate appearances before the grand jury that ultimately declined to indict Officer Darren Wilson — the purported eyewitness delivered a preposterous and perjurious account of the fatal encounter in Ferguson.
McCulloch's actions raise ethical and legal questions about the grand jury proceedings
McCulloch's admission could put him at odds with ethical and even legal requirements to not knowingly present false evidence.
"A lawyer should not present testimony that he believes to be false," Steven Lubet, a law professor at Northwestern University, told BuzzFeed. "That is especially true in a proceeding that lacks all of the usual safeguards, such as opposing counsel and a judge."
It's considered a federal offense to persuade another person to commit perjury. Those found guilty of subornation of perjury can be fined, imprisoned for up to five years, or both.