September 21, 2019


Democratic Candidates Are Misrepresenting Michael Brown's Death: Calling it a murder betrays the cause they hope to advance. (WILLIAM SALETAN, SEPT 20, 2019, Slate)

[A]t the core of the story, there was a problem: The original account of Brown's death, that he had been shot in the back or while raising his hands in surrender, was false. The shooting was thoroughly investigated, first by a grand jury and then by the Obama Justice Department. The investigations found that Brown assaulted Wilson, tried to grab his gun, and was shot dead while advancing toward Wilson again.

Despite these findings, three Democratic presidential candidates--Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, Sen. Kamala Harris of California, and billionaire Tom Steyer--said last month that Brown was murdered. These candidates haven't backed down in the face of press queries and fact checks. Warren even dismissed a face-to-face question about the DOJ report that cleared Wilson.

Despite subsequent fact checks, not one of these candidates has corrected his or her statement about the shooting.
The report thoroughly documents what happened to Brown. Surveillance video shows him stealing from a convenience store and shoving a clerk who tried to stop him. Police audio shows Wilson responding to the theft and pulling up, in his patrol car, in front of Brown. DNA on Wilson's gun, on his collar and pants, and on the inside of his car door--along with soot on Brown's thumb and injuries to Wilson's jaw and neck--corroborates witness accounts that Brown reached into Wilson's car, struck and wrestled with him, and tried to take his gun.

Three autopsies, including one by a private pathologist at the request of Brown's family, found no entry wounds in Brown's back. According to the report, the autopsies also found "no evidence to corroborate that Wilson choked, strangled, or tightly grasped Brown on or around his neck," as some witnesses initially claimed. After the fight at the car, Brown ran away from Wilson, and Wilson exited the car to make the arrest. But bloodstains, crime-scene photos, and all credible witness testimony supported Wilson's explanation that he fired because Brown--who had already tried to seize the officer's gun--turned around, was charging toward him, and seemed to be reaching for something at Brown's waist. In reality, Brown was unarmed, and, as my former colleague Jamelle Bouie has explained, that mistake--perceiving a weapon where there isn't one--is an example of the ways in which prejudicial fear of black men can fatally affect police officers' judgment.

But as to whether Brown had both hands up or had dropped a hand to his waistband, as Wilson alleged, the evidence backed up Wilson. In sum, says the report, "The evidence establishes that the shots fired by Wilson while he was seated in his SUV," as well as "the shots fired by Wilson after Brown turned" and came back toward the officer, "were in self-defense." Therefore, Wilson's actions were not "objectively unreasonable" and did "not constitute prosecutable violations" of federal law.

Posted by at September 21, 2019 6:29 PM