Ferguson: The Shooting of Michael Brown

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By: LeMara Perry
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The Encounter:
On Saturday, Aug. 9, shortly before noon, 18-year-old Michael Brown, and his friend, 22-year-old Dorian Johnson, walked into the Ferguson Market and Liquor store.

According to the police report, at approximately 11:51 a.m., someone inside the store dialed 911, alerting officers that a robbery was in place; however, by the time officers arrived, the suspect, who “appears” to be Brown, was gone.

At 12:01, as Brown and Johnson turned onto Canfield Drive, they came upon officer Darren Wilson. According to Ferguson police chief, Thomas Jackson, Wilson was unaware of Brown being suspected of robbery. At the time, Brown and Johnson were only obstructing traffic, as far as Wilson was concerned.

There are conflicting reports as to whether or not Wilson received information about the robbery between the moment that the officer encountered Brown and the fatal shooting.

The Shooting:
While witness accounts differ, it is clear that within three minutes of meeting Wilson, Brown died of multiple gunshot wounds to the head and torso.

Pictures of Brown laying face down in the middle of the street with blood leaking from his body spread like fire via social, as Twitter user @TheePharoah, who watched the shooting from his home, tweeted his reaction.

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“I JUST SAW SOMEONE DIE OMFG,” he said. “The police just shot someone dead in front of my crib yo.”

As other Twitter users began to ask why, @TheePharoah said, “no reason! he was running.”

According to Johnson, Wilson ordered he and Brown onto the sidewalk. He yelled, “Get the f*** on the sidewalk” or “Get the f*** out of the street,” according to Johnson’s account given to several news outlets.

The young men reply that they are “not but a minute away from our destination, and we would shortly be out of the street,” Johnson said, and when they didn’t move, Wilson reversed his vehicle, nearly striking them. The officer then tried to open the door, but it bumped into Brown and closed again. Then the officer reached out and grabbed the teen by his neck, choking him.

According to Johnson, a struggle ensued, resulting in a verbal threat that turned tragic.

“I’ll shoot,” Johnson said the officer said.

Johnson claimed to have seen the barrel of the gun being pointed at Brown, before the officer fired, with the first shot leaving blood seeping through Brown’s shirt.

Another eye witness, Tiffany Mitchell, who was picking up a colleague. claimed to have seen some of the confrontation. Wilson and Brown were “tussling through the window.” “It looked as if the kid was pulling away and the officer was pulling him in.” “A shot was fired through the window,” she told CNN.

Both Johnson and Brown begin to flee, before the second shot, which hit Brown, is fired. Johnson manages to hide behind a car.

“And at that time, he (Brown) turned around with his hands up, beginning to tell the officer that he was unarmed and to tell him to stop shooting,” said Johnson. “But at that time, the officer fired several more shots into my friend, and he hit the ground and died.”

Mitchell recalled Brown’s body jerking, as if he was hit from behind, and him turning around with his hands up. “The cop continued to fire until he just dropped down to the ground, and his face just smacks the concrete,” she said.

Other witnesses have provided conflicting accounts, alternately alleging that Brown was shot in the back or while on his knees in a posture of surrender.

According to another witness, Josie, when Wilson told Brown and Johnson to stop walking in the street, the two men ignored him and tried to shove him back inside as he exited his vehicle.

“Then he opens his car again and tries to get out and as he stands up Michael just bum rushes him, and just shoves him back into his car, punches him in the face and then of course Darren grabs for his gun and Michael grabs the gun.,” she told CNN

The witness claims 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.

As Brown started to walk away, 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?”

Brown then charged at Wilson, prompting the officer to fire at least six shots at him, including the fatal bullet that penetrated the top of Brown’s skull.

The Facts:
Wilson’s name was withheld from the public for nearly a week out of concern for his safety.

Jackson noted, during the Aug. 15 press conference, that Wilson was taken to a local hospital and treated for a swollen face following the shooting.

Jackson also handed out copies of a police report to reporters relating to the convenience store “strong arm” robbery that took place in the area shortly before Brown’s fatal shooting, showing that the police see the two events as connected.

Surveillance video from the store was released, against the Department of Justice’s wishes, as Jackson told reporters that he had no choice because the media requested the release under the Freedom of Information Act.

In addition to the private autopsy requested by the family, two others have either been conducted; the standard one by the local medical examiner and one ordered by federal authorities who are conducting their own investigation, as requested by President Obama.

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The preliminary results of an autopsy that Michael Brown’s family requested was not helpful in clearing up any uncertainty.

According to the autopsy, Brown was shot at least six times, all to the front of his body, according to the preliminary results. Four bullets went into his right arm, and he was shot twice in the head.

The fact that all six shots were to the front, might lead credence to the theory that Brown was indeed going after the officer; however, the shots were on his head and hand, which may indicate that his hands were up.

According to Michael Baden, the high-profile pathologist who testified in the OJ Simpson murder trial, the bullets that struck Brown were not fired from close range, as indicated by the absence of gunpowder residue on his body.

One of the bullets shattered his right eye, traveled through his face, exited his jaw and re-entered at his collarbone. The last two shots were probably the ones to his head, family attorney Anthony Gray said. One entered the top of his Brown’s skull, suggesting that his head was bent forward when he was struck.

The Aftermath:
Ferguson has been in much disarray as protestors and mourners search for answers and seek justice for Michael Brown.

Following the shooting, residents laid rose petals on the street where Brown’s body lay. As night fell, they gathered peacefully around Brown’s mother Lesley McSpadden, raising their hands as a symbolic gesture urging police officers not to shoot.

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The gesture quickly became a trend as protesters, including several celebrities, posted pictures on social media sites, visited Ferguson or held rallies in their own cities, raising their hands.

At some point, the peace turned to violence. Tensions between the protesters and police were high, as car windows were smashed and stores broken into and looted. Officers used tear gas and rubber bullets as crowd control, causing several injuries.

Several arrest were made, including journalists from the Washington Post.

President Obama delivered a statement on the situation in Ferguson, calling for ‘healing’ after several days and nights of police clashing with citizens.

Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr., also met with Michael Brown’s parents and issued a statement saying he is “deeply concerned that the deployment of military equipment and vehicles sends a conflicting message” to the community of Ferguson.

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