Attorney Benjamin Crump: Grand Jury Process 'Unlike Anything I've Ever Seen'

Michael Brown family attorney Benjamin Crump and ABC News' Chief Legal Affairs Anchor Dan Abrams analyze the Ferguson grand jury deliberations, and ABC News' Pierre Thomas reports on the latest investigations.
6:48 | 11/23/14

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Transcript for Attorney Benjamin Crump: Grand Jury Process 'Unlike Anything I've Ever Seen'
Now let's get more on the federal response from our senior justice correspondent Pierre Thomas in Washington this morning, and, Pierre, in addition to the grand jury you've got these two parallel investigations done by the justice department on civil rights. Reporter: Yeah, George, the stakes are high and the drama intenses, justice department officials wait for that grand jury decision. As you say, they have two investigations under way. First they're looking at whether the Ferguson police department discriminates against minorities. Justice officials have already indicated they believe there's evidence of bias, especially in traffic stops. They're also investigating officer Wilson. There they have a high threshold to reach before bringing any charges. They have to determine whether officer Wilson's decision to shoot brown was unreasonable under the circumstances, and they must find evidence officer Wilson intentionally violated brown's civil rights because of race. It's a vigorous investigation but there's no guarantee as to how it will turn out, George. And, Pierre, but if the grand jury doesn't find that they don't believe there's enough evidence to charge officer Wilson with a crime, realistically can the justice department go forward with their targeting of officer Wilson? Reporter: In theory the state grand jury investigation should not impact the justice department, but, George, I can tell you there's a lot of pressure. The attorney general went to Ferguson, and if that grand jury decides not to indict, in essence, the justice department decision becomes the final word in terms of a criminal case. Here in Washington, they know that this is one of the most important civil rights cases in recent memory. Race and policing, a volatile mix. Okay. Pierre Thomas, thanks very much. Let's talk now to Michael brown's family attorney general men crump and our legal affairs anchor Dan Abrams. You've been told you'll get some kind of notification about any grand jury announcement. Nothing yet? Nothing yet. How much advance notice do you expect you would have? Well, we think about six hours is our hope, but we will have to see. The prosecutor's office has told us they will inform the family before they inform the public for sure. Okay, and, Dan Abrams, let's walk through what the grand jury is doing right now. There will have to be 9 votes on a 12-person grand jury in order to indict officer Wilson with a crime. Right. Keep in mind, totally different process than a regular jury. 9 out of 12. You're not deciding innocence versus guilt, this is just a question of probable cause, is there enough evidence to send this case to trial. Inside that grand jury room much more casual than a trial. They're having a conversation in there. Grand jurors asking questions but, remember, it is the grand jury that is in charge of this. They're the ones who now can decide, do we want to continue, do we need more evidence, et cetera, and so they're considering everything from the possibility of no indictment, involuntary manslaughter all the way up to murder. But this is different from your usual grand jury. Usually you got a prosecutor saying I have a case, sign off on it. That's not what's happening. Usually you have one or two detectives show up and present a little bit of evidence and say, this is the charge we want and you move forward. Here the prosecutor is giving the grand jury all of the evidence, he says, allowing them to make all the decisions, having the target testify which is unusual, calling in it seems one of the defense experts to even testify in front of the grand jury, which is unusual. It does seem that the prosecutor is to some degree trying to punt but with that said, the prosecutor still has a lot of control over what evidence is presented in front of that grand jury. I saw you shaking your head. I just think this is process is unlike anything I've ever seen in my 20 years of practice. We don't think it's fair. Why not? When you think about it, if this prosecutor is saying, we just going to be fair, we're not going to recommend any charges, that's different from anything he's done in his past 28 years with grand juries, so now are we going to say, he was unfair to all those people and he's going to be extra fair -- give the police extra rights. Why can't it be equal justice -- why can't we have the same process, why you change the rules and why can't you come in and recommend charges right now based on the probable cause. You said it a minute ago. It's just probable cause. Seven people said his hands was up. Let me ask you a question. If the prosecutor himself, whether he's wrong or not, let's assume he may be wrong or right but let's assume for a minute that he's uncertain as to whether charges should be filed. Then is he doing the right thing? Let's ask if facts will change, would he be uncertain because as the correspondent said, race and policing, that's the difference. When the race isn't the matter the prosecutors change it. It's a symbiotic relationship with the prosecutor and the police, and if we keep doing the same thing, George, we're going to get the same results, and that's why the people are like they are in Ferguson. But I know that both Michael brown's parents have called for calm. They don't want violent protests but after the grand jury sifts through all this evidence and they determine there was a struggle and that officer Wilson did have reason to feel threatened and in danger, do you accept that finding? Well, we have to accept the law, but think about it. They are trying to snow everybody, George. The struggle at the car, he's running away. You have people saying he shot while he was running away and that's one incident. But what if the evidence shows that he was running toward him? You know, you got witnesses out there that say differently. Then you got the police version. If you got that tipping scale, Dan, if you got that tipping scale, probable cause, it should go to a jury where it's transparent and we have a trial by jury. Why do we accept that when the police kill our children we're just going to have this grand jury proceeding and different from anything else. I'm not going to dispute about the facts. Let's talk about the process of law. There are a lot of high-profile cases and I've seen them where prosecutors say, you know what, I'm going to hand this one to the grand jury. I want the political cover on this one. I want to let them decide so I'm not the one who takes the heat on the decision so it's not out of left field in a high-profile case a prosecutor hands it off to a grand jury. And you would agree it's a problem with our system when you have the local prosecutor who has this symbiotic relationship with the local police department and the local police officers has no relationship with the young -- It sounds like you've prejudged what the grand jury is going to say. You've already decided the process is unfair? No, the process is completely unfair. 99% of the time police officers aren't charged when they kill young people of color. So when you look at the face of those overwhelming statistics and you think that we are upset because -- But let me ask the question -- let me ask, what if there was a struggle. What if there was a struggle for the gun and the evidence shows that? You know what, in America we have a constitution, you have a right to trial by jury. And I have no doubt if they were to indict the police officer, he would be guaranteed his full constitutional rights of innocent until proven guilty. He would get every benefit of the doubt. I don't worry about the due process for officer Wilson. I worry about the due process for the little black boy dead on the ground. We'll have to leave it there and we're all waiting for the grand jury. Thank you both very much.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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