Interested readers may find the complete Michael Brown case archive here.
Many media talking heads and other pundits, including some that ought to know better, are demanding to know why the police investigating the shooting of Michael Brown haven’t released everything they know. That’s easily answered, but after we examine the newest available information. The New York Post has the story:
Police sources tell me more than a dozen witnesses have corroborated cop’s version of events in shooting,’ St. Louis Post-Dispatch crime reporter Christine Byers tweeted, without elaborating. [skip]
Earlier, another friend who identified herself only as Josie called ‘The Dana Show’ on radio station KFTK to say that Wilson told her the tall, burly Brown, 18, had “bum-rushed“ him before the shooting.
Josie — who said she heard the version from Wilson’s girlfriend — said the cop encountered Brown and his pal Dorian Johnson walking down the middle of a street, pulled up and ordered them onto the sidewalk.
Wilson then noticed the pair were carrying cigars, and had heard the report of the robbery and recognized the pair as possible suspects.
‘And he’s looking at them and they got something in their hands and it looks like it could be what, you know, those cigars or whatever. So he goes in reverse back to them,’ Josie said.
Wilson, she said, ‘tries to get out of his car. They slam his door shut violently. I think he said Michael did. And then he opened the car again. He tried to get out. He stands up.
‘And then Michael just bum-rushes him and shoves him back into his car. Punches him in the face and then Darren grabs for his gun. Michael grabbed for the gun. At one point he got the gun entirely turned against his hip. And he shoves it away. And the gun goes off,’ Josie said.
‘Well, then Michael takes off and gets to be about 35 feet away. And Darren’s first protocol is to pursue. So he stands up and yells, ‘Freeze!’ Michael and his friend turn around. And Michael taunts him … And then all the sudden he just started bum-rushing him. He just started coming at him full speed.’
‘So [Wilson] really thinks [Brown] was on something, because he just kept coming. It was unbelievable. And so he finally ended up, the final shot was in the forehead, and then he fell about two to three feet in front of the officer,’ she said.
The Gateway Pundit, on 08-19-14, adds additional details:
The Gateway Pundit can now confirm from two local St. Louis sources that police Officer Darren Wilson suffered facial fractures during his confrontation with deceased 18 year-old Michael Brown. Officer Wilson clearly feared for his life during the incident that led to the shooting death of Brown. This was after Michael Brown and his accomplice Dorian Johnson robbed a local Ferguson convenience store.
Local St. Louis sources said Wilson suffered an ‘orbital blowout fracture to the eye socket.’ This comes from a source within the Prosecuting Attorney’s office and confirmed by the St. Louis County Police.
A blowout fracture is a fracture of one or more of the bones surrounding the eye and is commonly referred to as an orbital floor fracture.
Darren Wilson, the Ferguson, Mo., police officer whose fatal shooting of Michael Brown touched off more than a week of demonstrations, suffered severe facial injuries, including an orbital (eye socket) fracture, and was nearly beaten unconscious by Brown moments before firing his gun, a source close to the department’s top brass told FoxNews.com.
‘The Assistant (Police) Chief took him to the hospital, his face all swollen on one side,’ said the insider. ‘He was beaten very severely.’
According to the well-placed source, Wilson was coming off another case in the neighborhood on Aug. 9 when he ordered Michael Brown and his friend Dorain Johnson to stop walking in the middle of the road because they were obstructing traffic. However, the confrontation quickly escalated into physical violence, the source said.
‘They ignored him and the officer started to get out of the car to tell them to move,’ the source said. ‘They shoved him right back in, that’s when Michael Brown leans in and starts beating Officer Wilson in the head and the face.
The source claims that there is ‘solid proof’ that there was a struggle between Brown and Wilson for the policeman’s firearm, resulting in the gun going off – although it still remains unclear at this stage who pulled the trigger. Brown started to walk away according to the account, prompting Wilson to draw his gun and order him to freeze. Brown, the source said, raised his hands in the air, and turned around saying, ‘What, you’re going to shoot me?’
At that point, the source told FoxNews.com, the 6 foot, 4 inch, 300-pound Brown charged Wilson, prompting the officer to fire at least six shots at him, including the fatal bullet that penetrated the top of Brown’s skull, according to an independent autopsy conducted at the request of Brown’s family.
Wilson suffered a fractured eye socket in the fracas, and was left dazed by the initial confrontation, the source said. He is now ‘traumatized, scared for his life and his family, injured and terrified’ that a grand jury, which began hearing evidence on Wednesday, will ‘make some kind of example out of him,’ the source said.
The St. Louis County Police are investigating the shooting, which is precisely the right thing for the Ferguson Police to have done. They are also not revealing information about the case, which is also precisely the right thing to do.
We’ll present every piece of evidence we have, witness statements, et cetera, to the grand jury, and we do not release any evidence or talk about evidence on the case.
Some are demanding that everything, no matter how incomplete or preliminary, be released to the public. Others are criticizing the little that has been released, such as the videotape of Michael Brown’s robbery.
…FoxNews.com’s source insisted that there was absolutely no spin agenda behind the tape’s release and that there were a number of Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) media requests filed by media outlets seeking it. Tom Jackson is said to have waited on publicly releasing it, and did not want it shown until Brown’s grieving mother first had the chance to see it.
‘He defied the FOIAs as long as he could,’ noted the insider. ‘A powerful, ugly spin has completely ruined public discourse on this whole situation.
There will ultimately be no winners, no stars in this situation. Parasites will feed and leave when their hosts are exhausted, and those crying for “Justice for Michael Brown,” will never be satisfied with less than Darren Wilson’s death, regardless of the evidence. Even reporters are being damaged, and I’m not referring to those getting themselves arrested in Ferguson. Front Page Magazine reports:
A pretty big buzz started last night when St. Louis Post-Dispatch reporter Christine Byers tweeted that there is plenty of support for Officer Darren Wilson’s account of the Michael Brown shooting:
“Police sources tell me more than a dozen witnesses have corroborated cop’s version of events in shooting.’
Now came this…’“On FMLA from paper. Earlier tweets did not meet standards for publication.’
Byers references sources who back up Wilson’s account, only to be told her tweet didn’t meet the standards of the newspaper she works for, and as a result, she is off under the Family and Medical Leave Act? How does FMLA enter into this?
Byers was reporting conditions on the ground on Twitter in much more neutral and professional terms, but at the same time the conclusion could have been drawn that she was sympathetic to the law and order side of the angle, not the rioters and looters that her colleagues preferred.
Christine Byers was actually quoting what police told her about the violence. That may have been a no-no. Pulling her silences the police and lets Obama, Sharpton and Co. play their games.
This is the new journalism.
It’s certainly racialist, social justice journalism, agenda journalism focused not on reporting fact, but on fulfilling the elements of a progressive narrative. It is, in fact, almost exactly following the Trayvon Martin narrative script. That many of the same players are involved contributes to this.
Where President Obama has not yet completely stuck his foot into this particular racial morass, the same can’t be said for Missouri Governor Jay Nixon, a Democrat. From Fox News:
Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon drew criticism from his own Lt. Governor Tuesday when he said ‘a vigorous prosecution must now be pursued’ in the shooting death of black 18-year-old Michael Brown by white police Officer Darren Wilson in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson.
Nixon made the comment in a videotaped statement in which he said he would not remove St. Louis County Prosecutor Bob McCulloch from the case despite the demands of some black leaders who believe that McCulloch’s deep family ties to law enforcement would affect his impartiality. McCullouch’s father, mother, brother, uncle and cousin all worked for the St. Louis Police Department, and his father was killed while responding to a call involving a black suspect.
In his statement, Nixon cited what he called the ‘well-established process’ by which prosecutors can recuse themselves from pending investigations to make way for a special prosecutor. Departing from that process, Nixon said in a statement, ‘could unnecessarily inject legal uncertainty into this matter and potentially jeopardize the prosecution.
Nixon is obviously trying to avoid what happened in the Trayvon Martin case, where a competent local prosecutor, examining all of the evidence after a competent investigation, chose not to prosecute George Zimmerman. It was only after much racial grievance mongering that Florida’s governor appointed a special prosecutor whose job it was to prosecute Zimmerman regardless of the evidence. Fortunately, despite the best efforts of the prosecutor and several judges, Zimmerman was acquitted. Nixon obviously wants his prosecutor involved from the start, but equally obviously realizes that he has no legitimate reason to remove McCulloch. Note Nixon’s intent:
“We have a responsibility,’ Nixon said, ‘to come together, and do everything we can to achieve justice for [Brown’s] family.’ Nixon added that McCulloch and U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder had an obligation ‘to achieve justice in the shooting death of Michael Brown must be carried out thoroughly, promptly, and correctly.”
What Nixon should have said, what any elected official should say, is completely different. They should make clear that law breaking of any kind will be immediately punished. They should call for a complete and professional investigation, no matter how long it takes. They should call for a sober and complete evaluation of and deliberation on the evidence by the prosecutor, who has their complete confidence. And they should call for the public to respect the integrity of the process and those involved in it, regardless of the outcome. A rush to prosecution is not justice. Missouri’s Lt. Governor agrees:
It’s really heartbreaking to see a man elected to an office that high in our state government … come out with a statement like that, that does prejudge the case,’ Missouri Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder told Fox News’ Shepard Smith late Tuesday. ‘It would be wrong for a prosecutor to say what the governor has said here tonight and it’s wrong for the governor of Missouri to have said it.
There are no investigations taken more seriously than an officer involved shooting (OIS). Professional agencies have cooperative agreements with other professional agencies. When one of their officers is involved in an OIS, that shooting is always investigated by another agency. That is what is happening in Ferguson, which is a good sign.
Even in cases without the racial circus atmosphere of this case, the public and media always clamor for information every second of every day. It is the job of professional investigators to be patient, to carefully gather every possible bit of evidence, whether expended casings, hair and fiber evidence, or eyewitness testimony. All of this takes time, and in an OIS, professionals will take as much time as they need. They know that rushing causes mistakes, and they don’t want to make mistakes, particularly not in an OIS investigation.
They know that often, an officer might have made mistakes of tactics, perhaps even minor violations of procedures, but those mistakes and violations do not amount to a violation of the law. It’s their job to determine if a crime has been committed, and if so, they want to build a case no less strong than for any crime. At the same time, they know that when a police officer is involved, there will always be public pressure calling for his head, so they are determined to be as careful and fair as possible, not only to uphold the officer’s due process rights, but so they can prove that it is evidence motivating their decisions, not political or social pressures.
Professionals don’t release any information, not until the entire investigation is complete and unassailable conclusions have been reached. Then they release information only to the extent that it will not impair the prosecution. To do otherwise can compromise the investigation, and even the prosecution. Regardless of the news media’s desire for news, the St. Louis Police are doing precisely what they should be doing in this case against incredible pressures.
This case, like the Trayvon Martin case, is being tried in multiple venues. There is the criminal venue, where competent professionals should take their time and act with the utmost integrity, unpressured by politicians or any outside influence. Governor Nixon, Attorney General Holder, even President Obama have ensured that there is outside influence from the highest levels.
The case is also being tried in the court of public opinion. This is where the news media and race hustlers like Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson, various “celebrities,” and other con men, criminals and hustlers occupy positions of importance and influence far greater than their highly limited integrity and bad intentions should allow. Their goal is “social justice,” which in this case is nothing less than the prosecution, conviction and execution of Officer Darren Wilson regardless of the evidence or the law. It is also socially just that the parents of Brown, and of course their lawyers, be richly compensated for their trouble.
A closely aligned subsidiary of the court of public opinion is the court of political dirty tricks. The involvement of the federal Justice Department in an unremarkable case, particularly the Civil Rights Division of the DOJ, is evidence that this is a political, not a lawful investigation. Hundreds of black men are killed across the nation every year, most by other black men. The shooting of black men by white men is rare, the shooting of a black man by a white police officer, rarer still. President Obama and AG Holder are involved because Mr. Obama needs to energize his base, particularly black voters, in time for the mid term elections. Surely, they are also very sympathetic to racialist issues. For eye-opening background on the DOJ personnel involved, see this report by PJ Media’s J. Christian Adams, a former Justice Department attorney.
Finally, the case is being tried in the world of federal civil rights charges, which is closely aligned with the court of public opinion and the court of political dirty tricks, at least under the Obama Administration. It is highly unlikely that the evidence will support a federal civil rights charge, but it is also high likely that such a charge will be filed anyway. Given the extraordinary FBI and DOJ presence, and the presence of the most racially biased AG in history, it’s hard to imagine that the federal government will go away empty handed.
Keep in mind that the analysis I’m about to present is based only on the information currently available. We are not certain that much of it is unquestionably accurate. I am very much aware of this, gentle readers; please keep that in mind as you consider what I have to say.
There is no doubt that Michael Brown and Dorain Johnson robbed a quick shop only minutes before the encounter with Off. Wilson. There is no doubt that Brown used physical violence to complete that robbery and to escape, not only manhandling and pushing the much smaller clerk, but stalking toward him menacingly after already pushing and intimidating him.
There is no doubt that Brown had marijuana in his system when he was shot, but it is not yet known how much. There is no doubt that Wilson and Dorain stole cheap cigars. The most likely reason for that is they intended to use them in making “blunts,” which are cheap cigars hollowed out and filled with marijuana. This is, of course, not a certainty at this point.
There is no doubt that a very short time after robbing the store, Brown and Johnson were walking down the middle of a road. This suggests several possibilities. They were feeling macho and aggressive and looking for a fight. They were so high they didn’t realize walking down the middle of a road, thus drawing attention, would not be a smart thing to do immediately after robbing a store. They were simply stupid and not paying attention to their surroundings, or perhaps, didn’t care. A combination of these possibilities is also a possibility.
In any case, their walking down the middle of a road is more than sufficient probable cause for any officer to approach, speak with and briefly detain them. It would also be more than sufficient cause for Wilson to have cited both for obstructing traffic, though what is known suggests he intended to do no more than most officers would in those circumstances: tell them to get out of the street and onto the sidewalk, and perhaps check their identities to see if they were wanted for anything.
The information currently available suggests that Wilson was unaware of the robbery, or not considering Brown and Johnson to be suspects, as he first tried to deal with them. Wilson spoke to them, telling them to get off the street, and being ignored, stopped his vehicle and tried to get out to approach them.
Attacking and pushing Wilson back into his vehicle, Brown reached in and began punching Wilson, fracturing his orbit and stunning him. Noticing that he was stunned, Brown, and perhaps Johnson, tried to get Wilson’s gun.
NOTE: Americans are used to TV and the movies where people take multiple, beautifully choreographed blows that could kill normal people, yet are only momentarily staggered, or their heads momentarily turned. Apparently unimpaired, they fight on. In reality, single blows to the head can cripple or kill. In reality, assaults are fast, brutal, bloody and ugly.
Virtually any significant blow causes a concussion. The brain is suspended in fluid inside the skull. When one is hit in the face or head, the damage to the brain–a concussion–is done when the head moves sharply and the brain smashes against the interior of the skull. We are only now beginning to understand the potentially terrible long- term effects of what might appear to be even a light concussion. Being struck repeatedly in the head by someone of Brown’s size and weight, particularly when essentially pinned in a vehicle with Brown striking downward, using the leverage that would imply, could easily produce crippling, even deadly, blows.
At this point, Wilson’s training would have kicked in. Contemporary officers almost universally carry security holsters. Their guns cannot be drawn by pulling them straight up and out of their holsters. There are intermediary steps, mechanical obstructions. Officers know that when an officer loses his handgun, in more than 80% of cases, that gun will be used against them. They are taught multiple means of retaining their guns. In a case like this, reeling from the blows to his head, his vision impaired, a much larger and stronger attacker ripping at his gun–perhaps two attackers–Wilson was losing the battle to keep his handgun in its security holster, the gun came free and at least one round was fired in the vehicle. It is possible that it was at this point that Brown suffered a wound to his hand, but it is equally possible no one was hit at this point. We just don’t know, yet.
It will not be difficult for investigators to determine if Wilson’s account of that gunshot matches the physical damage in his vehicle. If Brown were hit with his hand in the vehicle, there should be traces of blood and tissue to confirm that fact.
Brown and Johnson start to leave and Wilson does what any police officer that was still at least partially functional would do: try to apprehend the criminals that just assaulted him. But something new has been added to the equation. Wilson is now injured. His vision might be impaired; he might feel woozy, weaker, even unsteady. He knows that Brown is much bigger and stronger, and that he tried to take his handgun, perhaps to kill him. Wilson believes he is involved in a continuing deadly force encounter. Brown and Johnson aren’t thinking in analytical legal terms, but they surely know they just assaulted, perhaps tried to kill, a cop. They know things are serious too.
No one knows the exact time frame of these events, but it is likely the encounter took only seconds, not minutes. That is the common flow of such encounters. If investigators do their jobs properly, they’ll construct a complete and accurate time frame of events, which will allow them to know what was possible and impossible.
It’s unlikely–but possible–Wilson had to draw his handgun. It was probably in his hand as he got out of his car. He pointed at Brown and told him to stop. Brown stopped, turned, and taunted Wilson, essentially daring him to shoot, or laughing, saying Wilson wouldn’t shoot. Then he charged Wilson.
It appears, though this too isn’t known with certainty, that at some point during this encounter, Wilson became aware of the robbery, and identified Brown and Johnson as suspects. Both were still carrying a large number of cigars, which would be an obvious tip off. The most likely way this would have happened is if Wilson heard a radio call about the robbery. If this is so, all radio traffic is time stamped, so it should be easy to determine exactly when that broadcast was made and whether it would fit in the time frame of the encounter.
Even if Wilson were never aware of the nearby robbery, even if he never had reason to suspect Brown and Johnson as armed robbers, he still had more than sufficient probable cause to stop and briefly detain them, and after they attacked him, any issue of probable cause for the stop became moot. By attacking Wilson, they committed multiple felonies. No police officer that was still even remotely physically capable would let them simply walk away at that point.
Obviously, there will be medical records and photographs to show the extent of Wilson’s injuries, and there will be the testimony of the Assistant Chief, medical personnel, and others that examined Wilson and/or saw his injuries.
Some have suggested that seeing an armed police officer pointing his gun at him, Brown would never have charged Wilson. They are thinking like rational, adult, non-criminals, people that seldom commit so much as a traffic violation, not like a stoned criminal that just robbed a store, assaulted, and perhaps tried to kill a cop. Brown and Johnson weren’t thinking. They were hyped on drugs and adrenaline, and reacting only to the fight or flight impulse. Brown was obviously used to using his size and strength to intimidate others. For him, flight was a secondary consideration. He had already demonstrated his aggressiveness in the robbery and by walking down the middle of the roadway thereafter.
Some sources have suggested that Wilson shot Brown from 35 feet, including shooting him in the back. The autopsy results that have been released suggest that all of the shots hit Brown in the front. If so, this would support the idea that Brown charged Wilson. Even if he was 35 feet away, that’s only a bit over ten yards, close range indeed, and a young, fast person can cover that distance in a very few seconds. Try it if you doubt this. Wilson had very little time and fired six shots–or less.
I say “or less” because from the positions of wounds on Brown’s arm, and the potential fact that most did not fully penetrate that arm, it’s possible fewer rounds were fired and several of the bullets struck brown’s arm more than once. In any case, it will be easy for the investigators to determine exactly how many rounds were fired, and to consider that in concert with the autopsy results. This will explain much and help to determine what is impossible and what is possible.
If this supposed account of Wilson is accurate, it is possible that Brown was charging at Wilson with his head down, or that having been struck several times, he was stumbling or falling, lowing his head, which would have allowed a bullet to strike him in the top of the head.
The account suggests that Brown was stopped only a few feet from Wilson. This too should be confirmable or falsifiable.
Some have suggested that Wilson fired too many shots, and that after wounding Brown the first time, he should have stopped shooting. They’re thinking about movies. If our inferences are right, Brown, a 6’4” 300 pound man, was charging headlong at Wilson. If Wilson was justified in shooting at all, he was justified in firing enough shots to stop Brown, not just one. None of the shots stopped him until what may have been the final shot into the top of his head. Even with that shot, his sheer momentum carried him within a few feet of Wilson. Without that shot, Brown would have reached Wilson and could have done him deadly damage even wounded as he was.
I’ll deal with eyewitness accounts in more detail in future updates, but keep in mind, gentle readers, they are notoriously unreliable. It now seems likely that Johnson’s account of the encounter is a self-serving lie. Again, the physical evidence should be able to determine that to a significant degree.
It doesn’t matter if there are a dozen accounts that perfectly confirm Wilson’s account if the physical evidence and the time frame make those accounts implausible or impossible. Evaluating the testimony of eyewitnesses is not a matter of majority v. minority. It is a matter of determining how that testimony fits the indisputable facts of the case. The motives of eyewitnesses are obviously a significant concern.
Eyewitnesses can be wrong on many observations, but absolutely accurate on one or two particularly meaningful observations. They can be completely wrong, or almost entirely accurate. That’s why experienced investigators take their time. Witnesses may know things they don’t realize they know, or not know things of which they’re certain. Identifying and interviewing witnesses is very time-consuming. After an initial round of interviews, detectives inevitably find facts and potential contradictions that require some witnesses be interviewed again, and so on and so on.
When a new witness crops up and says “X,” the media may call it a “game changer,” but in the overall context of the case, it may mean little or nothing. We just don’t have anything close to that overall context, and probably won’t for quite awhile.
Unlike the Trayvon Martin case, a great deal of potentially important information has been released very early in the process. We do not know at this stage how accurate that information is, and I will, of course, alter my analysis are required when more accurate information becomes available.
Knowing only what we might know now, there is no doubt that Wilson had sufficient cause to stop and briefly detain Brown and Johnson. If they did attack him as has been suggested, even if Wilson knew nothing about the robbery or their part in it, he had more than sufficient grounds to try to apprehend them. After all, they had attacked and injured him, and potentially tried to kill him, committing multiple felonies in the process.
If Brown charged him, Wilson had to act within fractions of a second. He surely knew he couldn’t survive another attack by Brown. His only choice would have been to shoot until Brown was stopped and presented no threat–if what we think we know is accurate.
Johnson is in an interesting, if unenviable, position. He is in a position, if he tells the truth–let us assume for the purpose of this discussion that the analysis I’ve presented here is correct–to slide past serious charges, perhaps any charges. Yet if he tells the truth, and the truth is that a stoned Brown, after robbing the store, also attacked, injured, and tried to kill Wilson, there are social consequences for him to consider. His attorney might decide the better bet is with lies and reliance on the racial grievance industry and the media to shield his client and provide “evidence” to obtain social justice.
In the next article, I’ll examine the Missouri statutes that apply to this case, and will analyze them in light of any new information that may have cropped up. It is not my intention to post a new article every day, but to wait until there is sufficient new information to make a new article worthwhile.
I hope to see you there.