Ferguson and St Louis, Missouri were back in the news recently with the Columbus Day Resistance. Four days of demonstrations and marches in support of Mike Brown, whom an Officer shot after he tried to wrest control of his sidearm, and an unnamed man who fired on another Officer before the unnamed Officer shot him to death.
On Saturday afternoon August 9th, 2014, a white Police Officer in Ferguson, Missouri, shot and killed a black teenager. The first report I heard on the top of the hour news had a quote from Rev. Al Sharpton about a white officer just gunning this boy down, “execution- style,” in broad daylight. Another quote, from a woman, talked about how there was no way to get ahead, because the police will even shoot unarmed black college students. After the commercial break, Fox radio news suggested that the unarmed youth may have been involved the theft of a box of cigars from a convenience store shortly before the officer shot him. In my mind’s eye, I saw a white uniformed police officer nearly six feet tall tell a scrawny black boy of about fourteen to get down on his knees; the boy knelt; the officer shot him.
Over the next two weeks, facts came out slowly from in Ferguson. There was abundant speculation from rioters, commentators, the Reverends Sharpton and Jackson, even the Governor of Missouri. But facts came out slowly. Before the week was out we knew that slain Mike Brown was not actually scrawny fourteen-year-old, but actually eighteen, well over six feet tall and weighed nearly three hundred pounds. We knew that at least one shot was fired inside the Officer’s police vehicle, the name of the Officer who shot him. We had security video of the hold up that drew the Officer: Mike Brown strong-arming a much smaller convenience store clerk. (Fox news radio and usatoday.com, ‘Timeline: Michael Brown shooting in Ferguson, MO)
There is so much to get into here: the riots (with out-of-town rioters), the tear gas, the heavily armed police (who looked like U. S. Marines on patrol in Anwar Province, Iraq, in 2008), detained reporters, and above all why the media and so many influential voices propagated the ‘Hands up; Don’t shoot,’ as though Brown had surrendered. I want to stay with just the facts of the case.
The strong-arm robbery, minutes before the shooting, and the shot was fired in the Police Vehicle. (usatoday.com, ‘Timeline’) These are the keys. If we get a photo of the shooter, Officer Darren Wilson, or other confirmation of any injuries he may have sustained, this will be another key. But let’s stay with what we’ve got.
Mike Brown strong-arms the convenience store clerk, takes the cigars and leaves. Clerk calls 911 and reports the robbery. Dispatch sends Officer Wilson, without a name, but certainly with a description. Every 911 call tape I’ve ever heard, the Operator asks for a description of the suspect. So, Officer Wilson drives into the neighborhood where the convenience store operates and sees a very tall black man carrying a box of cigars down the middle of the street, matching the description of the suspect and the stolen merchandise. Officer Wilson, no doubt attempts to resolve the situation, then to apprehend the suspect.
After a violent event like a strong-arm robbery the robber must have felt a rush of emotion, triumph, and of course the adrenaline of the strong-arming.
A shot is fired inside the Police vehicle. Police don’t just shoot the inside of their vehicle. There’s paperwork for every round fired outside of the training range. There’s the damage to the vehicle, the expense of the repair, and of course more paperwork. The shot fired inside the Police vehicle indicates that a struggle followed the Officer’s attempt to apprehend the suspect. From there, the Officer has to subdue the suspect. Reports of what happened next vary, but two out of three autopsy reports agree that Brown was shot several times, and from over head. Given his height and the lack of knee abrasions, the only way Mike Brown could have been shot in the top of his torso, is if he put his head down to ‘bum-rush’ Officer Wilson.
The St. Louis County Grand Jury hasn’t returned an indictment of Officer Wilson, yet.
The Attorney General hasn’t filed civil rights charges, yet.
But we know that Mike Brown was neither a scrawny, nor angelic boy as early reports and media speculators made him out to be. He may have been on his way to College, but Officer Wilson didn’t know that. Even if the Officer did know, Brown clearly tried to seize the his weapon. It sounds to me like the Officer followed his training, employ proportional force until the suspect is subdued. Unfortunately Mike Brown didn’t stop until he was dead.
So, why isn’t Mike Brown portrayed as a criminal who attacked a Policeman? Why is he portrayed as the Gentle Giant? Why does the Attorney General suggest that neither local, nor County, nor State police can deliver Justice but only the Federal Government? Questions for another day.
Ferguson Again. On Sept 28 a suspect shot a Ferguson Police Officer after a chase. (cnn.com, Sept 28, 2014, 8:11 pm EDT)
Ferguson A Third Time. Late at night on Oct 8, an off-duty Ferguson Police Officer was working a private security job. Suspects assaulted him and shot at him. The off-duty Officer returned fire and killed the suspect. (abcnews.go.com, Oct 9, 2014, 3:25 am.)
Maybe the lesson here should be: “Don’t attack a Policeman.”
What do you think about the marches, the police and media coverage surrounding these shootings? Let us know in the comments!
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