Michael Brown: Murdered? New evidence conflicts case

Autumn Page, Contributor

Michael Brown was an unarmed, 18-year-old man who was shot by Darren Wilson, a police officer for Ferguson, Missouri. This story sent waves throughout the nation, an African American man shot by a white cop. In 2014, this was the start of something new. This was the an early kickstarter of the Black Lives Matter movement.

On Aug. 9, 2014, Michael Brown and his friend Dorian Johnson left Ferguson Market and Liquor. Surveillance video shows Mr. Brown stealing some cigarillos and shoving the clerk. They walk along West Florissant Avenue and in the middle of the street on Canfield Drive. Officer Darren Wilson arrives, and sees Mr. Brown and Mr. Johnson. Mr. Wilson realizes Michael Brown fits the description of a suspect in a convenience store theft. He makes a call to the dispatcher. 

Officer Wilson positions his S.U.V. to block the the two men and traffic. Following this, Brown reached through the open driver’s window, punched and grabbed Wilson, according to The Washington Post. 

According to The New York Times, what happens next is as follows: “Officer Wilson fires two shots from inside the vehicle, one likely grazing Mr. Brown’s thumb, and the other missing him. Mr. Brown runs east. Officer Wilson pursues him on foot. Mr. Brown stops and turns toward Officer Wilson, who also stops. Mr. Brown moves toward Officer Wilson, who fires several more shots. Mr. Brown is fatally wounded.” 

This helped kickstart the Black Lives Matter Movement, which began with Trayvon Martin’s murder in 2013, for an obvious reason: an unarmed black man shot by a white cop. 

The original testament of Michael Brown’s death was proven false through an investigation by a grand jury and the Obama Justice Department. According to The Slate, “the investigations found that Brown assaulted Wilson, tried to grab his gun, and was shot dead while advancing toward Wilson again.”

All the witness reports are mixed in terms of how the event played out. In The Washington Post’s article, “ballistics reports say that the officer ‘fired a total of 12 shots, two from his vehicle and ten on the roadway,’ in ‘three gunshot volleys.’ The autopsy found Wilson’s shots struck Brown ‘as few as six or as many as eight times,’ killing him. But, the report said, ‘There is no credible evidence to refute Wilson’s stated subjective belief that he was acting in self-defense.’”

According to The New York Times article, a St. Louis County grand jury decided in November not to indict Officer Wilson with the connection of shooting of Michael Brown. 

The grand jury’s task was to determine whether there was probable cause to believe Officer Wilson should be charged with a crime. If so, which one. An indictment would have required nine of the 12 grand jurors to agree. The county prosecutor released evidence, such as forensic reports and photographs of transcripts of the proceedings. 

Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, Sen. Kamala Harris of California, and billionaire Tom Steyer have said Mr. Brown was murdered — while the Justice Department hasn’t found any evidence that supports their claims. 

The Justice Department found the popular narrative was wrong — according to witnesses that were deemed credible, even some of whom testified reluctantly. The department produced a comprehensive report, recalling the events of what happened, which makes the senators’ statements even more surprising.

So the question still stands — was Michael Brown murdered?

This story was updated Nov. 3 to revise an error concerning the state where Michael Brown was murdered and to note that Trayvon Martin’s murder in 2013 began the Black Lives Matter Movement.