Prosecutor Wesley Bell said on Thursday that his office will not bring charges against Darren Wilson, the police officer who shot and killed Michael Brown in Ferguson in 2014.

Following requests from Brown's family and continued national attention on the case, Bell's St. Louis office had quietly reopened an investigation about five months ago, per the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Speaking at a news conference, Bell—who was preceded in office by the widely criticized Robert McCulloch—reiterated the historical significance of the case and called it "one of the most difficult things" he's had to do since elected.

"Although this case represents one of the most significant moments in St. Louis' history, the question to this office is a simple one: Could we prove beyond a reasonable doubt that when Darren Wilson shot Michael Brown he committed murder or manslaughter under Missouri law?" Bell said. "After an independent and in-depth review of the evidence, we cannot prove that he did."

Michael Brown, 18, was shot and killed by Wilson at the Canfield Green apartment complex on Aug. 9, 2014. His body was left in the street by police for hours. Following Brown's killing at the hands of Wilson, who was then a Ferguson Police Department officer, weeks of protests kicked off nationwide.

Bell on Thursday noted that, while he and his office will not charge Wilson, that decision should not be interpreted or presented to the public a some sort of exoneration for him or his actions. Per Bell, Wilson "could have handled the situation differently." If he had, Bell added, "Michael Brown might still be alive."

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