Missing Point in the Ferguson Shooting


Earlier in the week, I wrote this this detailing the two sides’ version of events when Officer Wilson shot and killed Michael Brown after some sort of altercation at Wilson’s SUV window. Now check this out.

Let me preface what I’m about to say with how dangerous trial by public opinion is. It is dangerous. It undermines the rule of law, due process and innocent until proven guilty. Wilson is innocent unless proven guilty. I am not trying to “armchair” investigate or prosecute him. I’m still trusting in the court system to handle “justice” whatever that ends up looking like as this case goes on.

However, if you put a gun to my head (poor choice of words) and asked me to decide which side I think is more credible, from everything I’ve seen and read since I started following the case (again, realizing that I’m not privy to all the investigation details, obviously, only what’s been released to the public), if you asked me, “Would you proceed with charges against Darren Wilson for unlawfully shooting Michael Brown?” I would say yes. And let me explain why.

It’s the eyewitness testimonies from Michael Brady, Piaget Crenshaw, Tiffany Mitchell and Dorian Johnson (the individual with Michael Brown at the time of the shooting) that I find compelling. I linked their testimonies given to the news in the first sentence of this post.The New York Times in a report about eyewitness accounts, said “witnesses have given investigators sharply conflicting accounts of the killing,” without ever explaining what those differences were. And hearing exactly what all four of those witnesses have said, from the moment Piaget, Tiffany and Michael all saw the altercation begin at the SUV window (they obviously can’t account for the very beginning of it, as Dorian can, having been there) to the moment Brown was dead, I don’t hear any striking differences. I don’t hear any differences. It’s four individuals that don’t know each other and I believe Tiffany is not even from the area, that agree on the same version of events. Yet, the Times says “sharply conflicting.” Huh?

Both sides’ version of events agree on two points: That there was some sort of altercation at the SUV window and then Brown fled, to which Wilson gave chase, firing and shooting. The difference lies in what exactly happened at the beginning of that altercation — who was the aggressor? — and did Brown stop and surrender or charge the officer? Nothing from the autopsy can answer that as of yet.

However, taken the eyewitness testimony, especially that of Michael Brady, it seems to me what occurred was Brown ran, Wilson’s shooting, a bullet grazes Brown’s arm from behind causing Brown to stop and turn around. Law enforcement officials said (from that awful Times piece) Brown then lowered his hands and “moved toward” Wilson, whatever that means. Then Wilson says, “fearing that the teenager was going to attack him, the officer decided to use deadly force.” WAIT

As Lawrence O’Donnell (whatever else you want to say about him, his segment on this destroyed the Times’ shitty reporting on this) pointed out on his show, he already decided to use deadly force when he fired the first shot in the SUV and then fired more shots as he gave chase to Brown. What the hell?

Anyway, “moving toward” Wilson. What did Brady say about that? “By the time I get outside, he’s already turned around facing the officer, he has his arms under his stomach, half-way down; the officer lets out 3 or 4 shots at him. He took like one or two steps toward the officer.”

WilsonSo, it seems like he stumbled forward from the previous shots, then Wilson fired some more, which accounts for that last shot that hit the top of his head. Hardly seems like “charging the officer.” Moreover, again, it has to be reiterated: Why would Brown charge the officer? He fled a man shooting at him when he has no gun. That’s what pivotal. If he already fled from the officer, then there’s reason to believe he feared getting shot at. So, he ran. Then we’re supposed to believe he changed his mind, turned around and charged that man with the gun, whom had already shot at him? Makes no sense.

And this isn’t just some wacky shit here. Even the Public Editor of the Times, Margaret Sullivan, seemed to take issue with the “trust us” behind these anonymous, vague sources. As she says, “The Times is asking readers to trust its sourcing, without nearly enough specificity or detail; and it sets up an apparently equal dichotomy between named eyewitnesses on one hand and ghosts on the other.”The Times got played by unnamed “law enforcement officials” clearly setting a narrative of conflicting eyewitness accounts.

On the other hand, Ferguson Police Chief Thomas Jackson has been switching. First, he releases the video of the robbery with Michael Brown days later, which had nothing to do with anything, but seemingly connecting the shooting to it. Then he said Wilson didn’t know anything about it. Then he would say Wilson saw the cigars in Brown’s hand and suspected it was related to the robbery. In any event, it’s likely Brown thought Wilson made the connection.

However, it’s a moot point. If I’m proven wrong on this, so be it, but there’s too much case precedent from all across the country that leads me to believe Wilson will not be convicted. There is not a single jury in the United States that would convict an officer for a killing if the officer claimed he “feared for his life,” as Wilson has said. Obviously, not being privy to the investigation details, something could come about lending credibility to Wilson fearing for his life. I’m just saying, given all that the public knows and what we know about case precedent, it seems unlikely.

Thankfully, the grand jury will deliberate until around the middle of October. This is good. We want a slow, deliberate, done-right investigation. I’m not trying to say we should hasten this thing or that the police should arrest and charge Wilson right now. But I do not think any jury in the United States, going merely by case precedent, would prosecute an officer when he says he “feared for his life.” I’d be incredibly shocked.

I realize I’m walking a fine line here and I just sound like those would-be lawyers on Facebook that think they could prosecute this or defend that or whatever the case, like after the Casey Anthony verdict or the George Zimmerman verdict. I get all that.