September 27, 2020

August 9, 2014, Michael is shot dead by police

Michael Brown’s mother, Lesley McSpadden, dropped rose petals on the spot where he was killed on Saturday.
Huy Mach/St. Louis Post-Dispatch, via Associated Press

An 18-year-old teenager, Michael Brown, is shot and killed by a police officer in Ferguson, Mo. The circumstances surrounding the shooting are in dispute. The police say Mr. Brown was shot during a skirmish with the officer. A friend who was walking with Mr. Brown, Dorian Johnson, says the officer opened fire when the young men refused to move from the middle of the street to the sidewalk. He says Mr. Brown’s hands were over his head when the officer fired. All agree that Mr. Brown was unarmed.

Antonio French, a St. Louis alderman who has been active in this case, said on ABC on Sunday that the body had remained in the street for nearly five hours.

The Police Narrative

On Saturday, Aug. 9, Mr. Brown, along with a companion, Dorian Johnson, was walking in the middle of Canfield Drive, a fistful of cigarillos in Mr. Brown’s hand, police say, which a videotape shows he stole from a liquor store on West Florissant Ave. Mr. Brown was a big man at 6-foot-4 and 292 pounds.

The police tell of an officer who was enforcing the minor violation of jaywalking, as Mr. Brown and Mr. Johnson ignored the sidewalk and strolled down the middle of the road instead.

At 12:01 p.m., they were stopped by Darren Wilson, a police officer, who ordered them off the road and onto the sidewalk, Mr. Johnson, who is 22, later said.The police have said that what happened next was a physical struggle between Mr. Brown and Officer Wilson that left the officer with a swollen face.

The morning after the shooting, Chief Jon Belmar of the St. Louis County police said that Officer Wilson was leaving his police car when Mr. Brown “allegedly pushed the police officer back into the car,” where he “physically assaulted the police officer.”

“Within the police car there was a struggle over the officer’s weapon,” Chief Belmar said. “There was at least one shot fired in the car.” At that point, the police said, Officer Wilson left his vehicle and fatally shot Mr. Brown. “More than a few” shell casings were recovered from the scene.

Michael’s mother and father

The family’s & Mr Johnson’s counter-narrative

Mr. Brown is described as quiet and shy, a homebody who lived with his grandmother. In the weeks before his death, Mr Brown’s life certainly seemed ordinary. He had just left secondary school and was planning to study to become a heating and cooling technician. In his spare time, he played video games, saw friends and spent time with his family.

Michael Brown poses for a photo in his cap and gown taken in March 2014. Brown was shot and killed by police in Ferguson, Mo.

His friends and family knew the 6ft 4in (1.9 m) teenager as Big Mike or Mike Mike – so big, friends say, they named him twice. Neighbours at the Northwinds apartment complex where he lived remember him as respectful. “If his grandma said ‘go upstairs’, he went,” Kevin Seltzer told the Los Angeles Times. “He didn’t bother people.” Despite his size, Mr Brown is remembered as a gentle giant. By all accounts he shied away from confrontation, using his bulk to intimidate people from fighting with him.

Shortly before his death, at the urging of his grandmother with whom he lived and his uncle the Rev Charles Ewing, he embraced Christianity.

Mr. Johnson and others have said that it was a case of racial profiling and police aggression from a white officer toward a Black man. Within minutes, Mr. Brown, who was unarmed, was dead of gunshot wounds.

Mr. Johnson, who declined to be interviewed, has described the events differently in television interviews. While he and Mr. Brown walked, he said, Officer Wilson stopped his vehicle and told them to get on the sidewalk. When they refused, Officer Wilson slammed on his brakes and drove in reverse to get closer.When the officer opened his door, it hit Mr. Brown. With his left hand, Officer Wilson reached out and grabbed Mr. Brown by the neck, Mr. Johnson said.“It’s like tug-of-war,” Mr. Johnson said. “He’s trying to pull him in. He’s pulling away, that’s when I heard, ‘I’m gonna shoot you.’ ”

August 11, 2014, the FBI opens an investigation into Michael’s death

The Federal Bureau of Investigation opens a civil rights inquiry into the shooting of Mr. Brown on Monday as protests in Ferguson continues. The N.A.A.C.P. issues a statement of support for Mr. Brown’s family, adding, “Even as we call for accountability by those charged with protecting the community, we call on the community to act – collectively and calmly.” Jon Belmar, chief of the St. Louis County Police, asks for patience while his department completes an investigation that could take some time. That night, protesters again square off with the police, who use tear gas to disperse the crowd.

August 17, 2014, Private preliminary autopsy results released

Michael Brown, the unarmed Black teenager who was killed by a police officer, sparking protests around the nation, was shot at least six times, including twice in the head, a preliminary private autopsy performed on Sunday found. One of the bullets entered the top of Mr. Brown’s skull, suggesting his head was bent forward when it struck him and caused a fatal injury, according to Dr. Michael M. Baden, the former chief medical examiner for the City of New York, who flew to Missouri on Sunday at the family’s request to conduct the separate autopsy. It was likely the last of bullets to hit him, he said.

Mr. Brown, 18, was also shot four times in the right arm, he said, adding that all the bullets were fired into his front. Dr. Baden said that while Mr. Brown was shot at least six times, only three bullets were recovered from his body. But he has not yet seen the X-rays showing where the bullets were found, which would clarify the autopsy results. Nor has he had access to witness and police statements.

The bullets did not appear to have been shot from very close range because no gunpowder was present on his body. However, that determination could change if it turns out that there is gunshot residue on Mr. Brown’s clothing, to which Dr. Baden did not have access.

The preliminary autopsy results are the first time that some of the critical information resulting in Mr. Brown’s death has been made public. Thousands of protesters demanding information and justice for what was widely viewed as a reckless shooting took to the streets in Ferguson, Missouri in rallies that ranged from peaceful to violent.

Dr. Baden, 80, is a well-known New York-based medical examiner, who is one of only about 400 board-certified forensic pathologists in the nation. He reviewed the autopsies of both President John F. Kennedy and the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and has performed more than 20,000 autopsies himself. He is best known for having hosted the HBO show “Autopsy,” but he rankles when he is called a “celebrity medical examiner,” saying that the vast majority of what he does has nothing to do with celebrities.

Dr. Baden said that because of the tremendous attention to the case, he waived his $10,000 fee.

August 25, 2014, Funeral of Michael Brown

Lesley McSpadden, Michael Brown’s mother, at his funeral in St. Louis.Richard Perry/The New York Times

Thousands paid their respects to Michael Brown, more than two weeks after he was shot and killed by a police officer in Ferguson, Mo. In a deeply religious service at the Friendly Temple Missionary Baptist Church, several speakers exhorted mourners to work for justice, not just for Mr. Brown but for others, long after the funeral was over. The crowd of mourners included his parents and extended family, as well as the Rev. Jesse Jackson; the film director Spike Lee; T. D. Jakes, the bishop of The Potter’s House, an African-American megachurch; several members of Congress; representatives from the White House; and two children of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

November 25, 2014, It is announced that there will be no criminal charges filed in respect of Darren Wilson

The police officer who shot dead an unarmed black 18-year-old in Ferguson, Missouri, leading to weeks of unrest and reviving a national debate about law enforcement and race in America, will not face state criminal charges, it was announced on Monday.

A grand jury in St Louis County declined to indict Darren Wilson for killing Michael Brown on 9 August, following an altercation after the officer stopped him and a friend for jaywalking. Wilson is also under investigation by federal authorities, which could bring civil rights charges.

November 29, 2014, Darren Wilson resigns

Darren Wilson

The white police officer a grand jury declined to indict last week in the fatal shooting of unarmed Black teenager Michael Brown, has resigned from this city’s Police Department, his lawyer said on Saturday night.

The officer, Darren Wilson, who had worked in the department since 2011, submitted a resignation letter, said Neil J. Bruntrager, the lawyer. In the letter, first published in The St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Mr. Wilson said: “It was my hope to continue in police work, but the safety of other police officers and the community are of paramount importance to me. It is my hope that my resignation will allow the community to heal.”

For months, some here had called for Mr. Wilson, 28, to step down or be fired following the killing of Michael Brown and the unrest that followed, in August and then again last Monday, after the grand jury decision was announced.

March 4, 2015, it is announced that there will be no federal charges for Darren Wilson

Darren Wilson, the white police officer whose fatal shooting of unarmed 18-year-old Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, led to months of unrest and revived a debate on race and law enforcement in the US, will not face federal criminal charges.

The Department of Justice announced on Wednesday that after a six-month inquiry it has concluded no civil rights charges should be brought against Wilson for killing Michael Brown. A grand jury in St Louis decided last November not to indict Wilson on state charges.

“There is no evidence upon which prosecutors can rely to disprove Wilson’s stated subjective belief that he feared for his safety,” said the Department of Justice’s report, which rejected an account of the shooting long cited by protesters under the rallying cry “hands up – don’t shoot”.

Eric Holder, the US attorney general, said at a press conference in Washington: “Michael Brown’s death, though a tragedy, did not involve prosecutable conduct on the part of officer Wilson.” 

The decision ended the second half of a politically-charged investigation into Wilson’s shooting of Brown on 9 August following an altercation in a residential side-street. While Wilson insisted he acted in self-defence, protesters cited some witness accounts that said Brown was fleeing and had his hands up in surrender.

Evidence that Wilson intentionally victimised Michael Brown because of his race would have been needed for civil rights officials at the Justice Department to prosecute the 28-year-old officer, who quit his job at the Ferguson police department following the state grand jury’s decision. 

The same high bar was in place for a two-year investigation into the 2012 killing in Florida of Trayvon Martin, another unarmed black teenager, by George Zimmerman, a neighbourhood watchman. The Justice Department said last month that Zimmerman would not be charged.

July 30, 2020, It is announced that Darren Wilson will not be charged over Michael Brown’s killing

Mr. Brown was 18 and a recent high school graduate when he got into a confrontation with Mr. Wilson on a quiet residential road. A struggle at Mr. Wilson’s police vehicle turned into a street pursuit that ended with Mr. Wilson fatally shooting Mr. Brown. Witnesses said Mr. Brown had his hands up when he was shot — sparking outrage and a protest rallying cry — but federal and local investigators said the evidence suggested otherwise.

The officer, Darren Wilson, already had been cleared by a grand jury and a federal investigation months after the shooting in 2014. But Thursday’s announcement by a new prosecutor, Wesley Bell, most likely marks the end of the legal saga in a case that started the global rise of the Black Lives Matter movement, which has led to some major shifts in American policing and forced a renewed conversation about racism.

“Can we prove beyond a reasonable doubt that a crime occurred?” Mr. Bell, the top prosecutor in St. Louis County, said at a news conference. “The answer to that is no.”

Sources: NY Times, The Guardian, BBC News.

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