This page was last updated on March 11, 2015.
Update – March 11, 2015
On March 4, 2015, the US DoJ issued its report. In summary, the DoJ came to the same conclusion as the Ferguson grand jury. And “hand’s up, don’t shoot?” According to the report, “when [Michael] Brown started to flee, [Officer Darren] Wilson was aware that Brown had attempted to take his gun and suspected that Brown might have been part of a theft a few minutes before. Under the law, it was not unreasonable for Wilson to perceive that Brown posed a threat of serious physical harm, either to him or to others. When Brown turned around and moved toward Wilson, the applicable law and evidence do not support finding that Wilson was unreasonable in his fear that Brown would once again attempt to harm him and gain control of his gun. There are no credible witness accounts that state that Brown was clearly attempting to surrender when Wilson shot him. As detailed throughout this report, those witnesses who say so have given accounts that could not be relied upon in a prosecution because they are irreconcilable with the physical evidence, inconsistent with the credible accounts of other eyewitnesses, inconsistent with the witness’s own prior statements, or in some instances, because the witnesses have acknowledged that their initial accounts were untrue.”
Here’s another excerpt:
“The evidence establishes that the shots fired by Wilson after Brown turned around were in self-defense and thus were not objectively unreasonable under the Fourth Amendment. The physical evidence establishes that after he ran about 180 feet away from the SUV, Brown turned and faced Wilson, then moved toward Wilson until Wilson finally shot him in the head and killed him. According to Wilson, Brown balled or clenched his fists and ‘charged’ forward, ignoring commands to stop. Knowing that Brown was much larger than him and that he had previously attempted to overpower him and take his gun, Wilson stated that he feared for his safety and fired at Brown. Again, even Witness 101’s account supports this perception. Brown then reached toward his waistband, causing Wilson to fear that Brown was reaching for a weapon. Wilson stated that he continued to fear for his safety at this point and fired at Brown again. Wilson finally shot Brown in the head as he was falling or lunging forward, after which Brown immediately fell to the ground. Wilson did not fire any additional shots. Wilson’s version of events is corroborated by the physical evidence that indicates that Brown moved forward toward Wilson after he ran from the SUV, by the fact that Brown went to the ground with his left hand at (although not inside) his waistband, and by credible eyewitness accounts.
“Wilson’s version is further supported by disinterested eyewitnesses Witness 102, Witness 104, Witness 105, Witness 108, and Witness 109, among others. These witnesses all agree that Brown ran or charged toward Wilson and that Wilson shot at Brown only as Brown moved toward him. Although some of the witnesses stated that Brown briefly had his hands up or out at about waist-level, none of these witnesses perceived Brown to be attempting to surrender at any point when Wilson fired upon him. To the contrary, several of these witnesses stated that they would have felt threatened by Brown and would have responded in the same way Wilson did. For example, Witness 104 stated that as Wilson ran after Brown yelling ‘stop, stop, stop,’ Brown finally turned around and raised his hands ‘for a second.’ However, Brown then immediately balled his hands into fists and ‘charged’ at Wilson in a ‘tackle run.’ Witness 104 stated that Wilson fired only when Brown moved toward him and that she ‘would have fired sooner.’ Likewise, Witness 105 stated that Brown turned around and put his hands up ‘for a brief moment,’ then refused a command from Wilson to ‘get down’ and instead put his hands ‘in running position’ and started running toward Wilson. Witness 105 stated that Wilson shot at Brown only when Brown was moving toward him. These witnesses’ accounts are consistent with prior statements they have given, consistent with the forensic and physical evidence, and consistent with each other’s accounts. Accordingly, we conclude that these accounts are credible.”
You may recall Dorian Johnson – Mr. Brown’s accomplice in the convenience store robbery - was the source of the “hands up, don’t shoot” BS.
I conclude with a couple of rhetorical questions. First, why were there no demonstrations/riots after the release of the DoJ report as there were after the release of the grand jury decision and documents? Second, even though it’s a documented lie, will agitators continue the “hands up, don’t shoot” BS?
I resisted commenting about Ferguson until now because it was clear no one had all the facts. Blame the engineer in me. Now that the grand jury reached its decision and the district attorney released the grand jury documents – and most of “the usual suspects” have commented on the outcome, here is my two cents. Here are the grand jury documents.
Though each was different, the Tawana Brawley, Duke lacrosse team, Trayvon Martin, and Ferguson cases had one thing in common, rushes to judgment by the usual race hustlers and a compliant “news” media eager to help. In the Martin case, the media even went the extra mile and edited recordings and photos to further the cause. The media also tended to use pictures of a younger Trayvon Martin, as was the case with Michael Brown. Just about the only pictures we saw of Mr. Brown showed him in his high school graduation gown or as a little cherub wearing headphones. As of this writing, the apparently-false University of Virginia gang-rape story appears to be an additional example.
The media engaged in narrative journalism. That is, the media had stories it thought supported its view of the world. As a result, either intentionally or not, media blinders went up almost immediately. Not only did the press not look for evidence contrary to the narrative, the media ignored anything that didn’t support the narrative. That’s how we got the following comment from CNN’s Ashleigh Banfield after release of the grand jury documents: “I was shocked at the corroborative witnesses that backed Officer Wilson’s story. I didn’t know there was as many as there were and I didn’t know they were African-American. They sure didn’t make themselves public.” With all of its resources and after more than three months, how was it possible the self-described “World Leader in News” didn’t have a grasp of the true story? As with nearly 100% of the “mainstream media,” the “hands up” story fit CNN’s worldview so it didn’t occur to CNN and its reporters they didn’t have the full story. Ms. Banfield continued, “There were so many public witnesses who said things on television that created a very big debate, and now the other side of the debate was said in secret. And some of those other witnesses actually changed their testimony saying that the media or the community or things they had heard actually influenced their testimony in the - you know, at the beginning of the process.” Translation: The one-sided – and ultimately wrong – presentation by the press had a deleterious effect on both the investigation and public discussion.
There is one other thing that would have made the story perfect for the media and other leftist activists. Fortunately, though, Ferguson is overwhelmingly Democrat (voted over 85% for Democrats in November 2012) and all the major political players were Democrats, not Republicans. Had that not been the case, we would also have been subjected to the “Republicans are racists” lie. You’ll note there were no “Democrats are racists” storylines despite the Democrat party’s racist history. In fact, most of the media never mentioned party affiliation.
Here’s a summary of what happened in Ferguson, MO, on August 9, 2014. According to released video from security cameras, Michael Brown (18 yrs old, 6’5”, 289 lbs as per the autopsy report) and his best friend Dorian Johnson committed a “strong-arm” robbery of a convenience store, stealing one or more boxes of cigarillos. “Big Mike” – as Mr. Johnson called him - shoved aside the store’s clerk or owner on the way out. Mr. Johnson’s lawyer confirmed the robbery took place. Messrs. Brown and Johnson then proceeded to walk down the middle of a street. In his police SUV (Chevy Tahoe), Officer Darren Wilson (6’4”, 210 lbs as per his testimony) approached the two men. Up to this point, there’s little disagreement about what happened except for those people who don’t want the robbery mentioned because it throws a monkey-wrench into the “innocent little kids not bothering anyone” narrative.
At this point, after committing a robbery, pushing around a store clerk or owner, and then casually walking down the middle of a street with the stolen goods, it’s fair to say Mr. Brown was looking for trouble.
As to what happened from this point, here is Officer Wilson’s version in his police interview of August 10th and his grand jury testimony (begins on page 196). Only one eyewitness was in Mr. Wilson’s shoes. We can play what-if games and say Mr. Wilson should have done this or that all we want, but we weren’t there to see what he saw through his eyes.
Even in the best of circumstances, eyewitness testimony is notoriously unreliable. If a fake crime were scripted, acted out, and filmed so we knew exactly what happened, we would see a wide range of eyewitness accounts. Ferguson was not the best of circumstances and the AP story “Ferguson grand jury papers full of inconsistencies” gets into this topic. That’s why forensic evidence is so important in determining what really happened during an alleged crime. In this case, the forensic evidence tended to corroborate the testimony of Mr. Wilson and that’s why the grand jury did not indict him.
The first report we heard – which came from Mr. Brown’s accomplice in the aforementioned robbery - was a white cop shot a black kid in the back for no reason at all. Mr. Johnson was the source of the “hands up, don’t shoot” BS. Had Mr. Johnson told the truth from the beginning, perhaps the ensuing violence would not have occurred. Of course, Mr. Johnson failed to mention the robbery when he told his tale and, for the most part, the media wasn’t interested when it learned about the robbery. By the time the press learned of – then pretty much ignored - the robbery, it was too late for the truth. Race baiters/hustlers and their allies in the press had their next Tawana Brawley, Duke lacrosse team, or Trayvon Martin case and they weren’t about to let it go. Even after learning of the robbery, the press continued to refer to Mr. Johnson simply as a witness and Mr. Brown’s friend, not as someone who just robbed a convenience store with Mr. Brown.
The release of the grand jury documents presented a problem for the activists/agitators and the media. This is a relatively rare occurrence and likely caught these folks by surprise. With all of the evidence and testimony made public, there could be no credible charges of secrecy and selective evidence presentation. The documents also made it almost impossible to claim the jurors ignored the evidence and testimony. So what’s a dedicated activist/agitator to do? Perhaps the most incredible charge was the grand jury process was too fair (see Lisa Bloom comment below), in that the prosecuting attorney presented all the evidence to the grand jury, not just one-sided evidence favoring an indictment. Ultimately, most activists/agitators simply exploit emotion and claim the no-charges decision was unjust without explaining why. Given the forensic evidence supporting testimony, it’s fair to call these folks science deniers. Among this group you’ll find comments like “Their lies are leaking out everywhere. Let’s keep exposing them and KEEP UP THE PRESSURE” and “It will be a sad day if Holder doesn’t follow through with an indictment.” I suspect anyone who expects a federal civil rights indictment of Mr. Wilson will once again be sorely disappointed. According to NBC News, “Numerous legal experts, however, have been quoted as saying a federal case is unlikely, because the government would have to show not just that Wilson improperly shot Brown, but also that he did it with the specific intention of violating the young man’s civil rights.” Though the feds aren’t bound by the grand jury decision, its decision nevertheless makes it more difficult to claim “Wilson improperly shot Brown,” a requirement for a civil rights charge. That said, this event has always been more about politics than the truth so anything is possible.
As of this writing, it’s been more than three weeks since the grand jury decision and the release of the grand jury documents. Here’s what I’ve noticed. No one is claiming any suppression of evidence and no one is claiming “they didn’t talk to me.” It’s been more than four months since the incident and, other than the generic “he must be a racist because he’s white” BS, no one has come forward to claim Mr. Wilson ever treated blacks different than whites.
Rather than attack the evidence, some people question why Mr. Wilson didn’t use a Taser, Mace (pepper spray), or some other means to subdue Mr. Brown. Others ask why Mr. Wilson pursued Mr. Brown after he ran from the SUV. As the questioners know, the answers to all of these questions are in Mr. Wilson’s interview and testimony (links above). I’m purposely not giving the answers because you should read the accounts yourself.
President Obama also contributed to the violence because he “straddled the fence” in an attempt to placate his political base. While Mr. Obama said he opposed the violence, he also said he understood it. From the very beginning when no one had all the facts, it was clear Mr. Obama took sides, just as he did in the Trayvon Martin case and when his pal Henry Gates was arrested in 2009. The U.S. DoJ also contributed by immediately announcing a “civil rights” investigation. This purely political action was a signal to activists/agitators and the press something was amiss despite no evidence to that effect.
One of the rallying cries we heard was if police officers were required to wear body cameras, all the uncertainty would be eliminated. Not exactly. As you will read below, though a security camera recorded Mr. Brown robbing a convenience store – and his accomplice corroborated the recording, true believers think “the video shows Michael Brown actually paying for his items.”
I conclude this piece by noting one way agitators also played a role. Local/national leftist activist Carl Davidson (KD) is an example of someone who pushed stuff he knew to be false or who chose to be willfully ignorant. I know this opinion sounds harsh, but stick with me. Below is a sampling of KD’s comments on this topic on his Facebook page. I’m not picking on KD; in one form or another, most leftist activists/agitators write the same stuff and KD’s writings are representative of his comrades’. I like to use KD’s writings because it’s “one-stop shopping;” he is smart, a local guy with a national presence, a prolific writer, and has been in this business for more than half of a century.
“HARD TO MAKE THIS CRAP UP. A close look at the video shows Michael Brown actually paying for his items, and leaving some behind because he didn’t have enough cash. Which is why the store owner never claimed any theft, and was amazed and fearful about why police wanted the video. SO DO YOU EXPECT TO SEE RETRACTIONS?” The comment links to a piece entitled “Ferguson Police Busted – Attempt To Defame Shooting Victim Blows Up In Their Face (VIDEO).”
KD knew – or should have known - this was false. At the time KD made this comment, it had been at least 12 hours since Mr. Johnson’s lawyer confirmed the robbery. KD later commented, “Watch the video. I wondered why the cops only put out four stills, and not the whole thing.” Again, KD knew better. The police released the entire video, not just “four stills.” To date, KD has not issued a retraction. One person trying to further the cause responded to KD’s comment by writing, “How come the robber and the corpse are dressed in different clothes, when the two videos were shot 15 minutes apart? Did Brown go home and change his clothes before he was killed?” Remember, there were two robbers, Messrs. Brown and Johnson. Mr. Brown “and the corpse are dressed” the same. In fairness to KD’s followers, at least a couple of them seemed to question his story. They must be budding racists. <g>
In trying to paint Ferguson as a left vs. right thing, on August 22nd, KD commented,
“ONCE AGAIN, ANOTHER RIGHTWING MEME COLLAPSES. The defenders of the cop who shot Mike Brown in Ferguson have been citing a police source than the cop suffered a ‘broken eye socket’ from his inter-action with Brown. Turns out it’s bogus, even according to the police. Will we see a retraction on Fox?” The comment links to a DailyKos.com article entitled “CNN reports ‘Broken Eye Socket’ didn’t happen.”
To support his “RIGHTWING MEME” narrative, KD failed to tell his followers the left-leaning Washington Post also reported the broken eye socket story. As we know now, though Mr. Brown hit Mr. Wilson in the face, it did not result in a fracture. This is the second time KD mentions retractions. Don’t hold your breath waiting for KD’s retractions, however. In the world of activism/agitation, the truth doesn’t matter. All that matters is that your comrades/followers believe what you say.
KD dropped Ferguson until after the grand jury verdict. On November 26th, KD commented,
“BEST ACCOUNT I’VE HEARD YET....From one of Pittsburgh’s own...” The comment links to a video entitled, “Forensic Pathologist Cyril Wecht SHUTS DOWN All Nonsense in Michael Brown Case.”
As soon as Mr. Wecht said Mr. Brown was 6’5” and Mr. Wilson is 6’0” – not once, but twice - in his discussion of trajectory, the jig was up. As noted above, Mr. Wilson is 6’4”. What other facts did Mr. Wecht get wrong? Garbage in, garbage out.
“BEST SHORT SUMMARY OF THE ‘PROSECUTOR’S’ ROLE...” The comment links to a video entitled, “HEAR THIS!!! An excellent legal analysis by MSNBC’s Lisa Bloom. She said it all!”
This video is not a “SUMMARY OF THE ‘PROSECUTOR’S’ ROLE,” “BEST,” “SHORT,” or otherwise. The video is a 130-second rant by a lefty “civil rights attorney.” Among Ms. Bloom’s claims to fame are being the daughter of Gloria Allred and unsuccessfully suing the Boy Scouts of America to force admission of girls. Central to the rant is the idea Prosecuting Attorney Bob McCulloch (D) was wrong to present all the evidence to the grand jury instead of only one-sided evidence favoring an indictment. Ms. Bloom likely looks at Mike Nifong as a hero. Contrast Ms. Bloom’s opinion with that of Mark O’Mara (currently a CNN legal analyst and formerly George Zimmerman’s defense attorney). Mr. O’Mara said, “I was actually a bit surprised by how complete it actually was. And I say that because there were only one or two witnesses that they couldn’t find and get to the grand jury when they were trying to get everybody who had anything to do with the scene, the lay witnesses who said they had a video, they said they heard something, they said they saw something. They brought in literally every witness they could find and presented. And every one of those witnesses had an opportunity to present their entire testimony. They weren’t cut off. They didn’t bring them in for three questions and get rid of them. I was surprised, actually, that it wasn’t curtailed, that it wasn’t customized like prosecutors normally do. It was complete. There will be constant complaints about how it was done, but at least we know that every witness who had anything to do with the case got an opportunity to talk to those 12 people.”
“UNFORTUNATELY, WHEN A WHITE GUY SAYS IT, MORE PEOPLE MIGHT LISTEN Tell former Mayor Giuliani to charge these guys with ‘perjury’ That’s what he wanted to do with 16 out of 18 witnesses to the Grand Jury who also said Mike Brown had his hands up.” The comment links to a YouTube video entitled, “White Construction workers witness Mike Brown being shot with hands up.”
KD’s comment makes sense only if you believe only black witnesses told the “hands up” story and only white witnesses corroborated Mr. Wilson’s testimony. It appears to be projection by KD. Here’s a comment from CNN talking head Ashleigh Banfield after reviewing the grand jury documents: “I was shocked at the corroborative witnesses that backed Officer Wilson’s story. I didn’t know there was as many as there were and I didn’t know they were African-American.” This comment is indicative of the poor job done by the “news” media. To clean up the facts, KD’s “16 out of 18 witnesses” is wrong on two points. First, KD double-counted four witnesses, so it should have been “12 out of 14.” Another seven witnesses either didn’t answer, didn’t know, or were not asked. Second, it’s also not clear what “hands up” means in the table KD apparently used. According to The Washington Post, “While some recounted that Brown had his hands up in surrender when he was killed, others described his hands as clutching his torso or hovering at shoulder-level.” For example, Witness 14 (2nd interview) said Mr. Brown’s hands were at his ribcage, but that counted as “hands up” in the table. Finally, Mr. Giuliani didn’t say to charge “hands up” witnesses with perjury. KD knows Mr. Giuliani was referring to witnesses who were caught lying, such as Mr. Johnson and some witnesses who saw nothing but claimed they did.
“ONE CARTOON, 10,000 WORDS …”. The comment links to a cartoon entitled, The Modern World – Right-Wing Lessons Learned.”
I always get a kick out of leftist mythology about the right but let’s focus on the third panel of the cartoon. In the third panel we read, “Michael Brown was a shoplifter who looked menacing.” Though there’s finally admission Mr. Brown committed a crime, note his transformation from a “strong-arm” robber of a convenience store, which included shoving aside the store’s clerk or owner on the way out, to merely “a shoplifter who looked menacing.” Isn’t “10,000 WORDS” a bit of inflation? I thought the saying went “a picture is worth a thousand words.” <g>
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