The police shooting death of 18-year-old Michael “Mike” Brown in Ferguson, Mo., on August 9th captured the attention of the nation. With an explosive case impacted by the racial tensions of a White police officer shooting an unarmed Black teenager, theories regarding the incident have been myriad. NewsOne has compiled a working list of facts that have been officially confirmed to help clarify the case up to this point.
Brown and his 22-year-old friend Dorian Johnson visited the Ferguson Market and Liquor Store shortly before noon on that fateful Saturday, and the details surrounding what occurred in the store are unclear. The ongoing narrative was that Brown was involved in a strong arm robbery at the market, although not much has solidified that claim. There was also chatter of Brown lifting a package of cigars from the store, although the market’s owner never called the so-called theft in.
What has also been difficult to determine is why were Brown and Johnson the target of officer Darren Wilson’s investigation since he didn’t know Brown was a robbery suspect when he encountered the pair just past noon. An officer responded to the robbery call, which was made by a customer, but the suspects alleged to be Brown and Johnson were long gone. The situation gets murkier with the fatal conclusion of the confrontation between Brown and Wilson standing as the spark for the unrest that ravaged the town of Ferguson for weeks.
Here are the details of the case below:
- Did Brown Rob the Ferguson Market Before Wilson Stopped Him?
The surveillance video that has been released by Ferguson PD showed Brown in the store. However, the store owners said they did not report a robbery and that a customer in the store made the call via their attorney. Further, a longer version of the video shows that Brown did indeed pay for a package of cigarillos but took more. Once again, the police in the investigation have the full video and have only released a portion thus far. There is also a portion of the clip showing Brown shoving the owner of the store. Without audio, there is no way to determine what was said.
- What Led to the Shooting?
Officer Wilson confronted Brown and Johnson, speaking with them about walking in the street. From there, the accounts of several eyewitnesses becomes dizzying. Johnson says that Wilson approached the pair and used vulgar language to get them to walk on a sidewalk. And just moments from where they were heading, the pair was stopped by Wilson who allegedly grabbed Brown by the neck, which led to a scuffle.
Other eyewitnesses say they saw a scuffle between Brown and Wilson, with Wilson shooting Brown. Reportedly, Brown fled on foot and was chased down by Wilson as the teen’s hands were up. Most of the outside accounts say that Wilson was the aggressor and Brown tried to pull away. Officer Wilson has stated that Brown went for his service weapon in that reported scuffle. There were also several stories stating that Brown surrendered to Wilson and was mercilessly gunned down.
- How Many Times Was Mike Brown Shot?
According to the findings of an independent autopsy, Brown was struck four times in his right arm and twice to the head. Dr. Michael Baden, the former chief medical examiner for the City of New York, stated that Brown was shot a total of six times. Four bullets hit his right arm, supporting a theory of the submissive or defensive stance he may have taken. Dr. Baden did not exhibit bias and did not have full access to witness reports and X-rays. However, his autopsy was the first glimpse in to revealing the actions that led to Brown’s death.
- What Are Ferguson Authorities Saying?
From Ferguson Mayor James Knowles III to Ferguson Police Chief Thomas Jackson, they have not offered any clear take on the matter. Considering the city was ravaged by riots and heavy-handed response from police, there has not been much said from their side about the ongoing investigation. The local medical examiner’s autopsy of Brown was “consistent” with Dr. Baden’s findings, according to family attorney Benjamin Crump.
On Wednesday, August 20, a St. Louis County grand jury began to look in to the matter. Mayor Knowles, who was nearly assaulted by angry demonstrators at a church support effort, forcing him to reportedly run for his life on August 23, has promised transparency. Gov. Jay Nixon has demilitarized Ferguson police after days of clashes and placed the Missouri State Highway Patrol in charge, which is led by African-American Capt. Ron Johnson.
- Is There An Investigation Coming From the Federal Government?
The U.S. Department Of Justice has launched a federal civil rights investigation, and Attorney General Eric Holder visited the city and delivered pointed remarks on the matter. Holder has also ordered a third autopsy to be done.
- Did Mike Brown Have a Criminal Record?
Despite some questionable portrayals of Brown in certain areas of the press, it was revealed Brown had no criminal record. The county’s medical examiner noted that Brown had marijuana in his system at the time of his death, which is a claim that the Brown family has said was unclear. Others have noted that mentioning that fact was an attempt to paint Brown as some raving criminal.