Was Michael Brown surrendering or advancing to attack Officer Darren Wilson?

Protest in Ferguson, Missouri Credit Washington Post

Protest in Ferguson, Missouri – Photo credit Washington Post

Just before Michael Brown was felled by police bullets, he turned to face the officer, Darren Wilson, who had been in pursuit.

Then, at the climax of an incident that has gripped and divided the country, Brown started moving toward the officer. The question of what happened next was at the heart of a grand jury investigation as well as a protest movement that erupted out of Ferguson, Mo.

Most of the roughly two dozen witnesses who saw the fatal gunfire Aug. 9 told the grand jury they observed something that was both upsetting and bewildering to them — a wounded black man, his hands raised somehow, walking toward the white police officer who was shooting at him.

Wilson, who the Associated Press said resigned from the Ferguson Police Department on Saturday, testified that he shot Brown after the 18-year-old had spun around in preparation for attack, ignoring an order to surrender and instead rushing forward. Blood had already been shed moments earlier during an altercation at Wilson’s SUV when the officer had fired his gun twice. Now, Wilson told the grand jury, he feared for his safety and fired again.

The question of whether Brown charged at Wilson was a key piece of the puzzle for the St. Louis County grand jury, which decided last week that it would not indict the officer in connection with the killing. But that same question still looms large for the American public, especially for those who see in Brown’s story a miscarriage of justice emblematic of a system stacked against African Americans.

Read more at the The Washington Post

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Categories: History, Human rights, Racial discrimination, Sociology, Top stories, U.S. history, US News

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22 replies

  1. The question goes straight to the heart of the case. Everything else is just sideshow distraction and innuendo. Was it self-defense? That is what the grand jury had to evaluate: Is there probable cause to support a conviction based on a careful study of the known facts? And that is the question that every fair-minded person must also ask themselves.

    This article is a fine example of excellence in journalism.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Glad you brought this up. It’s hard to discuss with a bunch of nincompoops that are spouting all kinds of racist things.

    The other aspect was: Did the Grand Jury people have the ability to ask the questions that many have brought up since it happened? Or did they have a data dump done on them.

    It still bugs me that the Prosecutor’s had witness’s that easily were questionable to outright wrong presented to them. They went out of their way it appears to have a trial by Grand Jury instead of a Grand Jury by presenting so much that if there was a victim’s advocate present, they wouldn’t have dared present to the Grand Jury.

    Like is it Ferguson police procedure and yours to pull up to a suspect and interrogate him through the vehicle window? If it is, it’s brand new, I wonder if they call it Drive Thru interrogation …

    I’ve been waiting to see if any news media followed up on the part where Wilson kept his gun, went back to the station and washed his hands …..and bagged his gun. All while supposedly physically hurt. The other part about the Detective doing his interview didn’t record it.

    I think that Wilson washed his hands and maybe wiped the gun a bit to do a bit of cover up and so did the Detective that interviewed him.

    I believe Dorian. He said it right from the git go that Michael raised his hands and turned around. It’s not something that you would normally hear from anyone watching something like that go down.

    The second thing was Wilson’s gun was a semi-automatic. All he had to do was keep his finger on the trigger and it would keep firing. He panicked and that is why he missed so many shots.

    Being as Michael was not a skinny guy with skinny legs, it’s a wonder he didn’t have several shots to his legs too. It’s also a wonder that innocent bystanders weren’t shot too.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I am not trying to sound like a know it all – I am not like that at all. If I felt like I had knowledge to share, I’d be a bit more chatty on this forum. I do know a little about guns (I am an ex-hunter). I have a few semi-autos, but prefer bolt action and revolvers. The way I understand the mechanics of a semi-auto is that the gun automatically performs all the steps that prepare a weapon for firing the next shot –ejecting the used brass, re-cocking the mechanism, and inserting the next round. It is a gun that does not need to be manually re-cocked after every shot, but only fires one shot each time you pull the trigger. He would need to pull the trigger for each shot fired.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Apparently, the Saint Louis grand jury was unusual in the access it had to evidence and the amount of time it spent examining that evidence and questioning witnesses. In this case, the grand jury spent more than three months looking at evidence and interrogating witnesses.

    The psychology of human perception and memory is a much studied field of research. The information that our brains receive from the senses is always incomplete to some degree, so our brains do their best to fill in the blanks, providing best estimates of what information from the senses means. Furthermore, our experiences and biases influence our perceptions. We have a tendency to see what we expect to see. A recently published study indicates that our memories change over time. Which is why criminal investigators have long emphasized the importance of questioning witnesses as soon as possible after an event. The veracity of witness testimony is something commonly challenged by defense attorneys.

    Almost from the moment that the story hit the news wires the case had been mired in misinformation and false claims on all sides. Initial reports claimed that officer Wilson shot Michael Brown multiple times in the back. This was based on the testimony of Dorian Johnson, a fact refuted by forensic experts representing the Brown family. Some media reports claimed that Wilson shot Brown repeatedly while standing over him. Again, a false report.

    Dorian also claimed that Wilson reached out of his police vehicle and grabbed Brown by the throat and tried to drag Michael into his vehicle. I personally find it highly difficult to believe that a seated person in a vehicle could reach out a window and grab someone who stands 6’4″ by the throat, much less have enough leverage to win a tug-of-war with a 292 pound man who is standing over them with his feet firmly planted on the ground.

    Slate has published an article about Wilson’s “unorthodox” actions after the shooting.

    Darren Wilson fired six shots at Michael Brown. Two from inside his vehicle that hit Brown in the arm, two more after he exited his vehicle as Brown turned to face him, and then two more were fired hitting Michael Brown in the head, one of which killed him. That the final two shots hit Michael Brown in the head is the opinion of the forensic expert, Dr. Michael Baden, hired by the Brown family. Officer Wilson thought that he had missed on his first two shots. But he never missed.

    You can read grand jury testimony here. Look for the links within this link that say “Read original – Grand Jury Volume…”

    Liked by 2 people

    • Did you hear the recording of the gun fire? I did and it does not look positive for the officer. The Jury was giving false information by the prosecutor. It was not their job to find the truth. Their only job was to determine if the officer should go before the courts and have a real trial. It did not help that the prosecutor said the only creditable witness was witness #10 who changed his story drastically before he told his story to the jury. This entire event smells in my opinion.

      Liked by 2 people

      • No, I didn’t, but I recall that you mentioned that the other day. Thanks, gen. That is the thing about grand juries that I learned reading about this–that they are presented only the evidence that the prosecutor thinks is relevant. The Daily Kos seems like they are really on top of this story. The Justice Department may yet seek a federal grand jury.

        I’ve always felt that we wouldn’t really begin to learn the whole story until after the grand jury reached its findings. A lot of people know more about this case than I do. I’ve just been looking at the evidence as I understand it. I’m not persuaded about much of anything as of yet.

        I’ve gotten things wrong before and I’m sure I’ll do it again. But as long as I have friends to straighten me out I’ll be OK. 🙂

        I’ll forward you the news alert I got from the Daily Kos.

        Liked by 1 person

    • I found the audio on CNN. There are several news media that covered it.

      http://www.cnn.com/2014/08/26/us/michael-brown-ferguson-shooting/

      Liked by 1 person

      • Thanks. I believe I heard about that in a CNN video clip. I’ll check it out.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Someone cleaned it up from the first time I heard it. The first time I heard it online, it only sounded like 7 rounds fired. I was initially puzzled by the difference until I realized the first time I heard it, I could not make out what the man was saying on his phone. Not a single word but this time was different and much cleaner.

          The community was lucky no one else was harmed or killed. Sad situation for the community and family.

          Like

  4. Perhaps the reason for this disinterest in the ballistics report, autopsies and other similar information is that for at least some of Brown’s supporters the facts are, apparently, largely irrelevant because Brown is a metaphorical “symbol” of injustice regardless of what actually happened. A related reason may be that working through this information is time-consuming — and thus beyond the capacity of many commentators. In contrast, the grand jury painstakingly heard sworn testimony from more than 60 witnesses, which is now collected in several thousand pages of transcripts. Reviewing these transcripts reveals some important and essentially indisputable facts. And those facts confirm many critical aspects of Wilson’s account.

    The physical evidence in the Michael Brown case supported the officer [updated with DNA evidence] – The Washington Post

    Liked by 2 people

    • I am ashamed to say that I have not followed this case as closely as most. I’ll take a look at your link. From the little I have read, I think that media did a good job of getting everyone worked into a frenzy and think that both the officer and Dorian may have stretched the truth or remembered incorrectly. Like a little Bluebird said, we will never know for certain what happened.

      “If Wilson did shoot twice while inside the car, why did the shell casings end up outside?” I saw that question posed and would like to look into that further.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Well, I’m right there with you. I agree that the media was a little too quick to sensationalize the story. The outrageous background of Ferguson police behavior and then the totally stupid, heavy-handed way the authorities in Missouri responded to the protestors and the outside attention made for a perfect media storm.

        The casings probably ended up on his lap and fell out when he exited the car. Gunpowder residue was found in the vehicle. Brown’s blood was on Wilson’s clothing, and powder burns were identified on Brown’s right thumb. Just too many false leads in this one.

        Liked by 1 person

    • I think the corporate media did a horrible job covering this case overall. Forgotten was the fact that a young boy was shot and killed in the street just before he was going to college. Forgotten is his family that will never recover from this injustice. Their pain will be carried with them forever.

      Yes, Brown became a symbol of what is wrong with America. Selling guns is a big business and compared to other nations we are violent. Buying a gun is a corporate gimmick today just to get more of your money. It has nothing to do with being safer anymore. Now they give our law enforcement machines of war. Oh there is big money is weapons. Are we safer? Why are gun deaths like this happening so frequently?

      There was a time when violent crime and home invasion was an issue. I remember those days. My family was a victim around 1975 and believe me not even my 3 indoor dogs had a chance to save the person I loved. We were better armed but it did not matter against determined killers with 22’s. Guns do not protect you 9 times out of 10. If you are sleeping, eating, watching TV, etc., and determined killers kick in the entire door frame with one kick. You odd’s are close to zero.

      Gun sales have increased every year and that means our police are getting more weapons of war. We have white men open carrying guns into stores and restaurants. I have not heard any family claim this makes them feel safer. I have seen them and honestly, their eyes look exactly like the two brothers that killed so many central Ohio families. You know the reason the brothers gave for going after and killing all those families including their dogs? They said we were better armed and they believed they gave us a chance even though anyone home did not survive. All those families. Thankfully the brothers never selected farmers with children at home.

      Something is sick in America. We use to be a great nation with moral values but we have lost our way. I stayed in that farm for several years patching bullet holes and recovering as much as possible. I moved away from the local law enforcement and my home town. I no longer have a gun. It was my fault that we were targeted. I allowed certain people to target practice and hunt on our 200 acre farm. I watched how it changed everyone but I continued to allow this to go on for several years and it was common a week end event. We were hunters and I needed the food to feed so many people in our community that did not have enough money to eat properly including their children. I was very strict about who could use a gun but I let the boys play.

      I have lived too long and seen too much. I guess what I am saying in all this emotional babble is we have lost our way and it feels like we can not even trust our police. I learned to trust the FBI because they treated me alike a human being after they caught those serial killers. Today, I wonder if we have serial killers wearing badgers. I know one police officer that date raped my sister when she was 16 when he was 20. This happened before he became a police officer but my home town hired him anyway. Too many go into the force and find the home that fits their personality which may not serve the community. We gave our police too much power over our laws. Too much power over your lives and our children lives. Power is what some of them what.

      I have followed this case and I believe Brown was murdered but I am jaded. I listened to too many eye witnesses. The officer over reacted for some reason and almost ran the boys down backing up. He wanted a confrontation. When he opened the door, he hit both boys with the door, that is how close he got. They had to move to keep from being ran over.

      Overall, I feel for his family and community which have to live with the nightmare and hope for change. Pray for a better America.

      Like

  5. Between all the links shared by genvana and Koni, I have some serious homework to do! I am sitting on the fence (due to my ignorance on the subject), but suspect I’ll get a push one way or the other.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Huh. I was wondering what that was stabbing me in the butt. A fence picket.

    Liked by 1 person

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