Ferguson father delivers plea for peace ahead of grand jury decision on Officer Darren Wilson

Jason Sickles

ST. LOUIS — On the eve of what appears to be a grand jury decision in the shooting death of his son, Michael Brown Sr. issued a last-minute plea for no more Ferguson riots.

“No matter what the grand jury decides, I do not want my son’s death to be in vain — I want it to lead to positive change,” a very somber Brown says in a public service announcement released late Thursday. “I thank you for lifting your voices to end racial profiling and police intimidation, but hurting others or destroying property is not the answer.”

Brown’s son and namesake, 18-year-old Michael Brown Jr., was gunned down by a Ferguson police officer, Darren Wilson, on Aug. 9.

Ferguson police Officer Darren Wilson and Michael Brown. (Facebook/AP Photo)
Ferguson police Officer Darren Wilson and Michael Brown. (Facebook/AP Photo)

Anxiety over the ruling has the St. Louis region on edge, as the public waits to see if the case of a white police officer fatally shooting an unarmed black teenager will result in an indictment.

A grand jury has been hearing evidence in the case for three months and will decide if there is probable cause to charge Wilson, 28, with a crime. The officer could face up to life in prison if the case proceeds to trial.

But many, including Wilson, have recently expressed that the panel will not hand down an indictment. Late Thursday, a representative with the St. Louis Police Officers' Association described Wilson as being under a lot of pressure and stress but confident in the outcome of the grand jury investigation.

“It's fair to say that neither he nor his defense team expect an indictment,” Jeff Roorda, the union's business manager, told the AP.

Benjamin Crump, an attorney for the Browns, told CNN on Thursday that the family will consider civil action if justice isn't served in criminal court. A federal civil rights investigation of the shooting is also under way.

Wilson has reportedly told investigators that Brown assaulted him inside his patrol SUV and tried to take his gun. The teen’s family and some witnesses say that Wilson was the aggressor and ultimately killed Brown as he raised his hands in surrender.

The controversial shooting led to weeks of protests and saw citizens and heavily armed police clash. Stores in Ferguson were looted and property was destroyed. Hundreds were arrested. On Monday, Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon activated the state’s National Guard and declared a state of emergency in advance of the grand jury’s action.

“My family and I are hurting, our whole region is hurting,” Brown Sr. says in the video. “Continue to lift your voices with us and let’s work together to heal — to create lasting change for all people regardless of race. We live here together; this is our home. We are strong here united.”

The video was created and released by STL Forward, a website seeking to bring the St. Louis region together following the unrest in Ferguson. PSAs by others such as Olympic gold medalist Jackie Joyner-Kersee were also published Thursday.

Jason Sickles is a reporter for Yahoo News. Follow him on Twitter (@jasonsickles).