Rasmussen: 57% of blacks think Wilson should be found guilty of murdering Michael Brown

Via Mediaite, when protesters in Ferguson are asked what needs to happen for the demonstrations to end, usually they answer “Arrest Officer Wilson.” Just arrest? Seems that a lot of people have already tried this case and reached a verdict.

54% say the media would have offered less coverage of the story if a black policeman shot a white teenager. Fourteen percent (14%) think the story would have gotten more coverage under those circumstances, while 23% think the level of coverage would have been about the same.

Even 43% of black adults believe the story would have gotten less attention if the victim was white, but that compares to 55% of whites and 53% of other minority adults who feel that way…

While the investigation continues, most black Americans (57%) are already convinced that the police officer should be found guilty of murder, a view shared by just 17% of whites and 24% of other minority adults.

Wilson will be charged for something. It’s unimaginable at this point, given the backlash, that prosecutors would let him walk on a self-defense claim without putting him in front of a jury. But what will they charge him with? If they go for a home run on murder when there might not be enough evidence to support it, they risk making the same mistake Florida prosecutors did with Zimmerman. If they play it safer by charging him with manslaughter or some variation of negligent homicide, they risk angering the people who want to see Wilson punished severely. What’s a DA to do?

And where do they try this case? Wilson will move for a change of venue on grounds that he can’t get a fair trial in Ferguson, which may well be true. If the trial is moved to a city that’s majority white, though, instead of majority black as Ferguson is, critics will claim that prosecutors are stacking the deck for his acquittal. The jury in California’s trial of the LAPD officers who beat Rodney King famously had no blacks on it; Wilson’s jury will, I assume, have at least six black members to avoid perceptions of a structural bias in favor of letting him go free.

One more variable: Will the DOJ bring civil-rights charges against Wilson before his state trial or wait for the state verdict before doing so? If they wait, they risk riots if Wilson is acquitted. If they file charges beforehand, it might keep a lid on things if Wilson’s found not guilty in state court since protesters will know they have a second bite at the apple for justice.

While you’re busy noodling that, St. Louis police killed a man a few hours ago who reportedly came at them with a knife, yelling, “Shoot me, kill me now.” When he got within two or three feet of two officers, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, they dropped him. Chris Hayes, who’s in Ferguson, went to the scene and said the mood is bad. What that means for tonight’s protests in Ferguson remains to be seen.