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‘Hands up, don’t shoot’ was built on a lie

janklow
janklow god's lonely man.Members, Moderators Posts: 8,613 Regulator
disclaimer: columnist in question is pro-protests in Ferguson. but we don't have a thread on the aftermath of the DOJ report going, so...

‘Hands up, don’t shoot’ was built on a lie
The late evening of Aug. 9, 2014, I couldn’t sleep. I was due to substitute-anchor MSNBC’s “UP with Steve Kornacki” and should have been asleep. But after looking at my Twitter feed and reading the rage under #Ferguson, I felt compelled to type a reaction to the killing of Michael Brown by police officer Darren Wilson. Tying the shooting to the inane whine of certain politicians about a “war on whites,” I decried the next morning the death of yet another unarmed black man at the hands of a white police officer.

In those early hours and early days, there was more unknown than known. But this month, the Justice Department released two must-read investigations connected to the killing of Brown that filled in blanks, corrected the record and brought sunlight to dark places by revealing ugly practices that institutionalized racism and hardship. They have also forced me to deal with two uncomfortable truths: Brown never surrendered with his hands up, and Wilson was justified in shooting Brown.

The report on the Ferguson police department detailed abuse and blatant trampling of the constitutional rights of people, mostly African Americans, in Ferguson. Years of mistreatment by the police, the courts and the municipal government, including evidence that all three balanced their books on the backs of the people of Ferguson, were laid bare in 102 damning pages. The overwhelming data from DOJ provided background and much-needed context for why a small St. Louis suburb most had never heard of exploded the moment Brown was killed. His death gave voice to many who suffered in silence.

The unarmed 18-year-old also became a potent symbol of the lack of trust between African Americans and law enforcement. Not just in Ferguson, but in the rest of the country. Lord knows there have been plenty of recent examples. And the militarized response to protesters by local police put an exclamation point on demonstrators’ concerns. But the other DOJ report, the one on the actual shooting of Michael Brown, shows him to be an inappropriate symbol.

Through exhaustive interviews with witnesses, cross-checking their statements with previous statements to authorities and the media, ballistics, DNA evidence and results from three autopsies, the Justice Department was able to present a credible and troubling picture of what happened on Canfield Drive. More credible than the grand jury decision to not indict Wilson. The transcript of his grand jury testimony read like so much hand-holding by the prosecution.

What DOJ found made me ill. Wilson knew about the theft of the cigarillos from the convenience store and had a description of the suspects. Brown fought with the officer and tried to take his gun. And the popular hands-up storyline, which isn’t corroborated by ballistic and DNA evidence and multiple witness statements, was perpetuated by Witness 101. In fact, just about everything said to the media by Witness 101, whom we all know as Dorian Johnson, the friend with Brown that day, was not supported by the evidence and other witness statements.

Comments

  • janklow
    janklow god's lonely man. Members, Moderators Posts: 8,613 Regulator
    continued...
    ‘Hands up, don’t shoot’ was built on a lie
    Fight in the SUV
    Page 6: Wilson and other witnesses stated that Brown then reached into the SUV through the open driver’s window and punched and grabbed Wilson. This is corroborated by bruising on Wilson’s jaw and scratches on his neck, the presence of Brown’s DNA on Wilson’s collar, shirt, and pants, and Wilson’s DNA on Brown’s palm. While there are other individuals who stated that Wilson reached out of the SUV and grabbed Brown by the neck, prosecutors could not credit their accounts because they were inconsistent with physical and forensic evidence, as detailed throughout this report.

    Struggle over the gun
    Page 6: Brown then grabbed the weapon and struggled with Wilson to gain control of it. Wilson fired, striking Brown in the hand. Autopsy results and bullet trajectory, skin from Brown’s palm on the outside of the SUV door as well as Brown’s DNA on the inside of the driver’s door corroborate Wilson’s account that during the struggle, Brown used his right hand to grab and attempt to control Wilson’s gun. According to three autopsies, Brown sustained a close range gunshot wound to the fleshy portion of his right hand at the base of his right thumb. Soot from the muzzle of the gun found embedded in the tissue of this wound coupled with indicia of thermal change from the heat of the muzzle indicate that Brown’s hand was within inches of the muzzle of Wilson’s gun when it was fired. The location of the recovered bullet in the side panel of the driver’s door, just above Wilson’s lap, also corroborates Wilson’s account of the struggle over the gun and when the gun was fired, as do witness accounts that Wilson fired at least one shot from inside the SUV.

    Hands up
    Page 8: Although there are several individuals who have stated that Brown held his hands up in an unambiguous sign of surrender prior to Wilson shooting him dead, their accounts do not support a prosecution of Wilson. As detailed throughout this report, some of those accounts are inaccurate because they are inconsistent with the physical and forensic evidence; some of those accounts are materially inconsistent with that witness’s own prior statements with no explanation, credible for otherwise, as to why those accounts changed over time. Certain other witnesses who originally stated Brown had his hands up in surrender recanted their original accounts, admitting that they did not witness the shooting or parts of it, despite what they initially reported either to federal or local law enforcement or to the media. Prosecutors did not rely on those accounts when making a prosecutive decision.

    While credible witnesses gave varying accounts of exactly what Brown was doing with his hands as he moved toward Wilson – i.e., balling them, holding them out, or pulling up his pants up – and varying accounts of how he was moving – i.e., “charging,” moving in “slow motion,” or “running” – they all establish that Brown was moving toward Wilson when Wilson shot him. Although some witnesses state that Brown held his hands up at shoulder level with his palms facing outward for a brief moment, these same witnesses describe Brown then dropping his hands and “charging” at Wilson.

    The DOJ report notes on page 44 that Johnson “made multiple statements to the media immediately following the incident that spawned the popular narrative that Wilson shot Brown execution-style as he held up his hands in surrender.” In one of those interviews, Johnson told MSNBC that Brown was shot in the back by Wilson. It was then that Johnson said Brown stopped, turned around with his hands up and said, “I don’t have a gun, stop shooting!” And, like that, “hands up, don’t shoot” became the mantra of a movement. But it was wrong, built on a lie.
    Yet this does not diminish the importance of the real issues unearthed in Ferguson by Brown’s death. Nor does it discredit what has become the larger “Black Lives Matter.” In fact, the false Ferguson narrative stuck because of concern over a distressing pattern of other police killings of unarmed African American men and boys around the time of Brown’s death. Eric Garner was killed on a Staten Island street on July 17. John Crawford III was killed in a Wal-Mart in Beavercreek, Ohio, on Aug. 5, four days before Brown. Levar Jones survived being shot by a South Carolina state trooper on Sept. 4. Tamir Rice, 12 years old, was killed in a Cleveland park on Nov. 23, the day before the Ferguson grand jury opted not to indict Wilson. Sadly, the list has grown longer.
    Now that black lives matter to everyone, it is imperative that we continue marching for and giving voice to those killed in racially charged incidents at the hands of police and others. But we must never allow ourselves to march under the banner of a false narrative on behalf of someone who would otherwise offend our sense of right and wrong. And when we discover that we have, we must acknowledge it, admit our error and keep on marching. That’s what I’ve done here.
    anyway, i have never understood the argument that anything negative about Brown negated the larger issues with the police in Ferguson.
  • kingblaze84
    kingblaze84 Bronx, NY birthplace of hip-hopMembers Posts: 14,288 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited March 2015
    Even if Mike Brown didn't have his hands up supposedly, he was still far away when he was shot at the second time. An unarmed guy being shot from a long distance away is unacceptable to me, construction workers from out of town are on video saying Brown was not a threat when he was shot at roughly 30 feet away
  • alissowack
    alissowack Members Posts: 1,930 ✭✭✭
    I think the "Ferguson's" of the world are set in place to distract us from the critical issues that preside in government. We Americans (I'm assuming) are very untrusting of what our government does to serve us and it seems like we are getting closer and closer to exposing, on a televised scale, the government for what it is. Not saying the government has something to do with Ferguson, but it would be convenient for the government to have something like this all over the news and media getting us fighting for a true cause under false pretenses.
  • Black Boy King
    Black Boy King Members Posts: 6,984 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited March 2015
  • thought crime
    thought crime Members Posts: 54
    Police have killed more UNARMED americans since 9-11 then US army soldiers who are fighting the war on terrorism.

  • playmaker88
    playmaker88 Boy, I tell you that's vision Like Tony Romo when he hitting Witten Members Posts: 67,905 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Its more symbolic of the situations we face whether it was true or not..

    However, i cant put stock in the findings of the DOJ..basically its theory based on what happens based on the science there is no truth.

    So Mike Brown wasnt the perfect victim... i just dont believe he turned into the hulk with Demon eyes and charged forward like Juggernaut in supernatural anger.

    We will never know what truley happened but ill be damned if i believe the THEORY of what happened based on the evidence that was sifted through way after the fact given the goings on in the Ferguson PD.

  • kingblaze84
    kingblaze84 Bronx, NY birthplace of hip-hopMembers Posts: 14,288 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Its more symbolic of the situations we face whether it was true or not..

    However, i cant put stock in the findings of the DOJ..basically its theory based on what happens based on the science there is no truth.

    So Mike Brown wasnt the perfect victim... i just dont believe he turned into the hulk with Demon eyes and charged forward like Juggernaut in supernatural anger.

    We will never know what truley happened but ill be damned if i believe the THEORY of what happened based on the evidence that was sifted through way after the fact given the goings on in the Ferguson PD.

    Basically how I feel. If Mike Brown was super 🤬 and unstoppable, then why didn't Darren Wilson just stay in his car? He admitted he shot Brown and Brown ran away
  • Darth Sidious
    Darth Sidious ..in the grim darkness of the far future, there is only warMembers Posts: 2,507 ✭✭✭✭✭
    I mentioned in another thread that the Justice dept. report on the basis of what I heard had had takeaways for both sides to agree with and contemplate.

    Some will still claim there isn't\wasn't institutional racism at police dept. while others will still claim the officer shot a man trying to surrender.

    The report refutes both of those points and neither side is fully satisfied so in other words, I think they hit the nail right on the head.



  • janklow
    janklow god's lonely man. Members, Moderators Posts: 8,613 Regulator
    Even if Mike Brown didn't have his hands up supposedly, he was still far away when he was shot at the second time. An unarmed guy being shot from a long distance away is unacceptable to me, construction workers from out of town are on video saying Brown was not a threat when he was shot at roughly 30 feet away
    kind of missing the point here, which is actually...
    Its more symbolic of the situations we face whether it was true or not..
    The report refutes both of those points and neither side is fully satisfied so in other words, I think they hit the nail right on the head.
    pretty much this right here.

  • Swiffness!
    Swiffness! PART OF THE CONSPIRACY Members Posts: 10,128 ✭✭✭✭✭
    imho whatever happened, Wilson fired the killing shot because he was 🤬 off. He knew he wasn't supposed to do that, so he covered his ass.
  • LUClEN
    LUClEN Absence makes the heart grow fonder of someone else Members Posts: 20,559 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Swiffness! wrote: »
    imho whatever happened, Wilson fired the killing shot because he was 🤬 off. He knew he wasn't supposed to do that, so he covered his ass.

    Agreed

    No way he was manhandled by someone 40lbs heavier to such an extent that he really felt he was going to die

    He lost his cool and went for blood

  • syme
    syme Members Posts: 11
    I think its safe to say, if you have your hands up or say you can't breathe.

    You could die
  • jono
    jono Right fist = power, left fist = unity Members Posts: 30,280 ✭✭✭✭✭
    I think a lot of people knew it was some 🤬 but went along anyway because it's a cool bumper sticker. It's a shame really.

    No defense to Wilson.
  • janklow
    janklow god's lonely man. Members, Moderators Posts: 8,613 Regulator
    Swiffness! wrote: »
    imho whatever happened, Wilson fired the killing shot because he was 🤬 off. He knew he wasn't supposed to do that, so he covered his ass.
    i could easily see that being the case, but that's also part of the problem with making any part of it about what Wilson thought: the issue of proving it

    and really, Wilson could have been 110% justified and we'd STILL be able to say that the whole incident put a lot of the Ferguson PD's 🤬 out there for all to see
  • blackamerica
    blackamerica Members Posts: 2,897 ✭✭✭✭✭
    First off, I refuse to believe anything Wilson stated given he was caught lyin multiple times. Secondly, if a cop attacks me, I will fight back. If I start winning and the cop decides to pull out his gun, my first instinct is to GRAB THE GUN. Why are we supposed to assume Brown "reached for the gun"? That's 🤬 . Why was Mike Brown's body thrown in a SUV? Why wasn't Wilson's weapon taken? Why wasn't he drug tested? Too many questions not answered to draw a conclusion on what happened
  • bgoat
    bgoat Members Posts: 4,339 ✭✭✭✭✭
    AmeriKKKa got what they wanted, another dead black man.
  • onthafly
    onthafly Members Posts: 1,143 ✭✭✭✭
    edited April 2015
    I don't think you can conclusively say whether or not Brown had his hands up without video evidence and the DOJ's finding can't prove or disprove that. All it really says is that the witness statements were inconsistent but so were the statements of the key witness supporting Darren Wilson's version of the story. I agree that there probably wouldn't be enough evidence to convict Darren Wilson if he ever actually did have his day in court but it's hard to say if he would have been indicted since the prosecutor never actually attempted to prosecute. Dude should have at least lost his job for it but the system was on his side covering his tracks every step of the way.