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As Richmond marches peacefully, CA Herring explains how he would have approached Ferguson case

Posted at 8:11 PM, Nov 25, 2014
and last updated 2014-11-25 23:54:41-05

RICHMOND, VA -- In his first interview following the decision of the grand jury in Ferguson, Missouri, Richmond Commonwealth's Attorney Mike Herring talked about what he would do differently if a similar case would ever happen here.

"We would not release the findings at nighttime," Herring said, although he acknowledged Ferguson officials likely made a strategic decision.

Herring also said that if he was attempting to prosecute a police officer, he would deal directly with the grand jury and not have assistants present the evidence, as Ferguson officials did.

"I certainly would not have handed it off to someone else," Herring said.

Several critics have said the Ferguson prosecutors presented too much evidence to the grand jury. Those critics argue that if a prosecutor truly wanted an indictment he would keep some of the evidence secret until trial.

But Herring disagrees and said he would likely do the same thing and give the grand jury everything.

"Of the various criticisms of this fella the one I don't agree with was that he overloaded them with information," Herring said.

Herring said that the grand jury was the right call and that he would not have made a decision to indict unilaterally.

One conclusion Herring has drawn from the Michael Brown story is that he believes something must be done to address the number of black men killed by police officers.

"There appears to be a high number of fatalities of African American men at the the hands of police officers and I don't know why that is," Herring said.

Herring is experienced in prosecuting cops , having convicted  officer Michael Couture in the death of Santanna Olavarria. Herring said the reason he pursued conviction was that their was evidence supported the belief Olavarri'a hands were up, evidence that did not exist in the Michael Brown case. [READ: HOLMBERG: Why police shootings in Richmond rarely lead to violent protests]

"Because his hands were up that was sufficient to warrant a conviction."

Tuesday several hundred protesters gathered at the John Marshall Courts building to protest the decision.

"We are here to show black lives matter," one protester chanted.

The protest was peaceful and organized however -- unlike Ferguson -- with Richmond police closing down streets for protesters to march.