A number of prominent figures in Missouri are taking issue with Governor Jay Nixon’s recent announcement that “vigorous prosecution must now be pursued” against Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson in the shooting death of 18-year-old Michael Brown. Critics accuse Nixon of getting ahead of the investigation and prejudging the case.
On Tuesday night, Nixon released a video in which he said he would not remove St. Louis County prosecutor Robert McCulloch over concerns about McCulloch’s objectivity expressed by Brown supporters. McCulloch’s father, a police officer, was killed on the job by a black man in the 1960s. Nixon suggested that McCulloch recuse himself from the case.
Peter Kinder, the state’s Republican lieutenant governor, offered particularly harsh criticism of Nixon, a Democrat.
“It’s really heartbreaking to see a man elected to an office that high in our state government — the chief executive of the Missouri state government — come out with a statement like that does prejudge the case,” Kinder told Shepard Smith. Nixon, who spent 30 years as a lawyer and 16 years as the state’s attorney general, should know better than to tamper with and weigh in on the process, he added.
“Just as you and I and the governor were not there on Saturday afternoon, the 9th of August, when this awful, awful incident went down, we will not be sitting on that grand jury,” Kinder continued. “It would be wrong for a prosecutor to say what the governor has said here today, and it is wrong for the governor of Missouri to say it.”
A grand jury will begin hearing evidence in the Brown case Wednesday.
— Andrew Johnson is an editorial associate at National Review Online.