True crime and trial opinions from a layman's perspective
“Progress is a nice word. But change is its motivator. And change has its enemies” – Robert Kennedy
Michael Brown was killed on August 9, 2014, at the age of 18, in a town called Ferguson. He was an African American man walking down the street with a friend; targeted by a white police officer, gunned down like an animal. We’ve heard this story before, right? Aren’t they all the same?
“They say he had his hands up and everything”
“That’s what they said… shot him some more while he was on the ground”
And in light of such a heinous act, shooting an innocent man while he is surrendering, and then shooting him again while he is lying face down on the ground, the anger is palpable.
“Burn this bitch down” – Michael Brown’s stepfather
For a week now, Ferguson has not stood alone in their protest of Michael Brown’s death. Cities across America from New York to LA have rallied together to send a message that hatred is unacceptable and we need to stop killing our children.
Isn’t that what Martin Luther King Jr. spoke about all those years ago… judging people based on the content of their character rather than the color of their skin?
Is that what we have achieved and are now fighting to uphold?
Is that what you believe?
Because if you do… I’m sorry, but you’re wrong. Dead wrong!
Every day, we are still judging people by the color of their skin and the color of their uniform. Sometimes we judge blacks, sometimes we judge whites. Sometimes we judge cops. For no other reason but for the way that they look. And every day we are still killing people because of the color of their skin. But the Ferguson case is not one of those cases.
Would this case even be a discussion if Darren Wilson was black? What if Michael Brown was Hispanic or Asian or Caucasian? Would anybody care?
It was the same issue with Trayvon Martin. Everybody said it was a racially charged crime, a white man shooting a black man. Except… George Zimmerman wasn’t white. He was Hispanic… but close enough.
If you want to address racially charged crimes, then do your homework and identify those crimes. Don’t use situations where the deceased inflicted violence upon another individual and then ended up dead to serve your purpose. When you do that, nobody wins. You are only fanning the flames of hate.
[For my thoughts on the Martin / Zimmerman trial click here]
How did the town of Ferguson react when they heard gunshots in the middle of the day? Without seeking information, without actually seeing firsthand what happened, they engaged in chants of:
“kill the police”
“no peace, no justice”
That crowd quickly grew from a handful of bystanders to over 400 people requiring 50 officers to block off the street and protect the on-going investigation. Some bystanders even fired off their own guns in protest. Why? Why do people act this way without even knowing what happened? Because there was a white man holding a gun and a black man dead in the street. It’s action based on emotion and assumption fueled by hate.
These people were not aware, or simply did not care, that Michael Brown and his friend had just robbed a convenience store. Michael was high on marijuana, as evidenced by the toxicology reports and drugs that were found in his pocket. A call was put out over the police scanner and Officer Wilson heard that call. He identified two men walking down the middle of the road causing cars to drive around them, and he asked them to get on the sidewalk. They did not move out of the way and told Wilson that they were almost to their home. When Wilson asked them again to move out of the street, they basically told him to fuck off.
Wilson called for backup and then attempted to get out of his vehicle. Michael Brown forcefully shoved the door of the vehicle closed preventing Wilson from exiting. He did this repeatedly with Wilson trapped in his car attempting to protect himself while Brown, 300lbs, leaned inside throwing punches at him. That fight then led to a physical struggle to gain control of Wilson’s gun.
I’m not telling you this to imply that Brown deserved to die. I’m telling you this because we need to face the truth of what happened that day. Actions come with consequences. The moment that we stop pretending we are all perfect, and that we’re merely victims to all of the world’s evil, is the moment that perhaps we have a real chance at affecting change.
On that day in August, the truth of the matter was that Michael Brown was a threat to the police and a threat to society, and his actions did directly lead to his demise. You want to save your children? Tell them the truth!
I’m tired of people wearing t-shirts that say “I am Trayvon” and now, “I am Mike Brown”
You are not Trayvon and you are not Mike. And dare I say it… you shouldn’t want to be.
You know what would be refreshing in the midst of these conversations? Just one loved one of these lost young men to come forward and say…
Our child was not perfect. He made mistakes that had a profound effect on his life. Don’t let your child’s life end this way. Let’s demand more from ourselves first and then demand the same from others.
Isn’t it time we stopped turning a blind eye to the drugs that our youth are using today. Everybody thinks that marijuana is a joke, that it’s no big deal. But it’s destroying the minds and ambitions of our children and causing them to act irresponsibly and in dangerous and criminal ways. Spare me the bullshit about it being a peaceful drug. It’s a drug! And our children deserve better than our ignorance and laziness in accepting its use.
We also need to stop accepting our children’s defiance towards authority and use of violence as a means to act out. If you attack an armed police officer, chances are you are not going to fare well. There is nothing in this case that suggests that Wilson was a racist that targeted black men. He was an officer on patrol, doing his job, trying to keep the city safe who asked two young men to obey the laws and move out of the street. That act was met with violence which everybody now wants to ignore.
Darren Wilson police interview:
Darren Wilson post-grand jury interview:
I have not commented on this case in the past four months for one reason and one reason alone. Because I didn’t know the evidence. On the surface of this tragedy, I too heard the reports of an unarmed man shot upwards of 10 times and was disturbed by that story. But in the absence of information, I know better than to make assumptions.
“True ignorance is not the absence of knowledge, but the refusal to acquire it” – Karl Popper
Earlier this week when the grand jury decided not to indict Wilson, the evidence was released and since then I have had the opportunity to read through it. Here are just a few items that I have learned:
1. Brown’s body was in the street for four hours while the investigation took place. This is an average time frame for a body to remain at a crime scene while an investigation is on-going. For the majority of that time it was covered with sheets and concealed with barriers yet the bystanders and media complained that his body was left there in the open with no care or concern. That was inflammatory information.
2. Physical evidence and witness statements substantiate the fact that Brown initiated the altercation at the police vehicle. The mirror on the driver’s side was pushed against the car, skin tissue and blood from Brown were found on the outside of Wilson’s vehicle, as well as on in the inside of the driver’s side door. A bullet hole can be found on the inside of that door (shooting outward) just below the blood spatter. This shows that Brown’s hand was inside the car when struck. There would be absolutely no reason for Brown’s hands to be inside that car unless he was assaulting the officer.
3. The gunshot to Brown’s palm had black soot (stippling) around the injury indicating close proximity to the barrel of the gun. Blood stains found on that gun were identified as Brown’s which support the testimony from Wilson that there was a struggle over the weapon. The media criticized the police for not fingerprinting the gun to definitively prove that Brown’s hands were on it. But the investigators testified that you cannot conduct both fingerprint and DNA testing in the same spot on a piece of evidence. They had to choose one. In light of the fact that it was a moving struggle, the chances of finding a print with ridge detail for identification was slim. They ultimately decided that a DNA test would be more fruitful and it did identify Brown’s matter on the gun. Brown’s blood spatter was also found on the front of Wilson’s uniform.
4. Contrary to the multiple, hysterical reports of Brown surrendering with his hands up, his body came to rest with his left arm tucked under his waist and hand balled up in to a fist. His right arm was down and slightly out to the right. If his hands had been up in the air at the time of being shot in the head, he would not have landed in this position. The closed fist is consistent with Wilson’s statement of Brown charging at him in a fighting position with his hands in his waistband. Even though we now know that Brown was unarmed, at the time there was no way for Wilson to know that.
5. There are blood droplets from Brown that spanned from the police vehicle to the far end of the scene (20-30 feet away). Brown’s body was found in the middle of that distance (about 8-10 feet from the vehicle), proving that he had initially run away but then turned around and was charging back towards Wilson when killed.
6. Wilson explains that he shot Brown but that did not prevent Brown from continuing to move towards him. He yelled at him repeatedly to stop, as witnessed by people at the scene, but Brown did not. The final bullets that were fired and that hit Brown in the head and chest were fired from a downward trajectory showing that Brown’s body was in a forward slightly downward stance (charging forward) when hit. Brown got to approximately 8-10 feet away from Wilson when the final bullets were fired.
7. One of the issues with the case against Wilson were the largely inconsistent witness statements from the scene. Many of the individuals were either inside their homes with limited view of the incident, were reporting hearsay or only caught bits and pieces and not the full event. There were a few statements given that mostly corroborated what Wilson had to say in his interviews.
My goal is not to dictate to you what is right in this case and what is wrong in this case. I want YOU to read the evidence, watch the videos, listen to the interviews… arm yourself with information, not hate, not sensationalism, and make your own decision.
Stop listening to hatemongers like Al Sharpton, who only care about perpetuating divide and inciting riots. Stop listening to political leaders who hypocritically tell us to respect the legal process and then in the same breath encourage the public to peacefully take action.
Spend more time paying attention to our children… children like this who are longing for understanding and are desperate for peace…
A day after the decision on officer Darren Wilson in the shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown, the Harts went downtown “with the intention of spreading love and kindness” by holding signs such as “You Matter” and “Free Hugs,” Jennifer Hart said.
“Devonte was struggling. He wouldn’t speak. He was inconsolable,” his mother wrote. “My son has a heart of gold, compassion beyond anything I’ve ever experienced, yet struggles with living fearlessly when it comes to the police… He wonders if someday when he no longer wears a ‘Free Hugs’ sign around his neck, when he’s a full-grown black male, if his life will be in danger for simply being.”
“Knowing how he struggled with police, his bravery and courage to catch my eye and approach me were impressive,” Barnum said. “And it’s a blessing for me that I didn’t miss an opportunity to impact this child.”
Hart said the moment was about:
“listening to each other, facing fears with an open heart.”
WE NEED MORE OF THIS!
More compassion… more honesty… more conversation.
Brown’s family states: “While we understand that many others share our pain, we ask that you channel your frustration in ways that will make a positive change. We need to work together to fix the system that allowed this to happen” – Courtesy of WNEP 16.
I agree that we do need to fix the system that allowed this to happen, but I’m not referring to the legal system, I’m referring to our greater system of families and communities… The families that make excuses for their children who are disrespectful to authority and prone to violence, communities that claim they stand for peace and then burn their neighbors’ businesses to the ground, societies that are littered with drugs and weapons and hateful people who are destroying everything that leaders like MLK and Bobby Kennedy fought so bravely for…
This is the brutal truth…
The grand jury in this case spent 70 hours considering the evidence that can be found here:
Twelve people who know this case better than anybody else, better than the family, better than the bystanders at the scene who saw 5 seconds of the shooting thru a window 200 feet away, better than the media with disingenuous agendas, better than you and I.
Although we now have evidence to review, we were not in that courtroom, we did not get to see the witnesses firsthand and share that experience with our fellow jurors. Nine votes out of twelve in favor of indicting are required for a case to move forward and in this case, that requirement was not met.
Instead of assuming that the system is broken and that the jurors are racist and/or uncaring people, take the time to educate yourself with the evidence that they examined. Don’t be hypocrites. Don’t fight for the sake of fighting. Don’t hate for the sake of hating. Don’t form an opinion because a celebrity has one and told you to stand with them. Become informed, have your own opinion… and then start the conversation. And then maybe we can finally look in the mirror and be proud of the content of our character.
“To tame the savageness of man and make gentle the life of this world” – Aeschylus