For months now, there has been speculation about whether or not Darren Wilson was aware that a robbery had occurred at Ferguson Market on 08/09/2014 when he first made contact with Michael Brown and Dorian Johnson. Seemingly answering that question, the Post Dispatch just released recently obtained audio of the radio traffic at the time in question. The radio traffic reveals that Darren Wilson had every reason to be aware of not only the robbery but of the suspect descriptions describing Michael Brown and Dorian Johnson. Analysis to follow:
11:53: Dispatcher puts out the incident at Ferguson Market. This information is followed by a description of two suspects matching the clothing later seen by Michael Brown and Dorian Johnson. Last known direction was on W. Florissant toward QuikTrip (North, which puts them in the direction of Canfield).
12:00: Darren Wilson clears his earlier sick-case call. He asks the officers responding to the Ferguson Market incident if they need his assistance which confirms that he was aware of their call. Officers always have their portable radio on when out of the car responding on other calls so it’s not a stretch to believe that he was doing so now. The fact that he asked the two officers specifically responding to Ferguson Market if they needed his assistance proves that he heard the earlier traffic.
12:02: Darren Wilson goes out on Canfield with two subjects and requests a second unit to assist him.
Approximately 45 seconds later, the next Ferguson unit arrives to back up Darren Wilson.
By 12:05 an ambulance is requested.
A few points:
Ferguson Chief of Police, Tom Jackson erred when saying that Wilson did not know about the robbery. However, it still seems possible that Wilson may not have realized that Brown and Johnson matched the suspect descriptions until he started to drive away. Then he returned to make contact in reference to the robbery once he made that connection. From this perspective, his initial contact was not in reference to the robbery but his secondary contact was.
Either way, Tom Jackson never clarified this and a thousand individuals were allowed to scream that Michael Brown was shot for jaywalking. Even MSHP Capt. Ron Johnson opined this same, now debunked, theory. The bottom line is that if Darren Wilson was aware of the robbery, then the video of that incident is supremely important despite the claims from the media and the Governor’s office to the contrary in the days following its release. The video was repeatedly discounted verbatim because of Tom Jackson’s incorrect or incomplete statement earlier on in the investigation that Darren Wilson was not aware of the robbery.
The robbery video always did speak to Brown and Johnson’s mindset at the time of the initial altercation. However, this new evidence adds to Darren Wilson’s mindset. What’s more it seems to finally put a nail in the coffin of the argument that the reason for Wilson’s initial stop was the result of racism or racial profiling.
With that said, it should be noted that it is still possible for the above information to be accurate and Wilson to still be guilty of an unjustified shooting worthy of indictment for (presumably if true, second degree) murder. Wilson can be justified in his shooting while in the car and then still be unjustified later if Michael Brown was in fact surrendering. However, the autopsy seems to render that version unlikely at this point given the gunshot on the outside (dorsal) portion of his forearm.
This is why we have a judicial process for presenting and examining evidence. This is also why criminal cases are not decided by a lynch mob working on a narrative of what they want to believe as opposed to what the evidence actually shows. Unfortunately, as recent months have proven, this information will likely be arbitrarily disregarded and there does not appear to be a pending course correction from the rocky seas we approach.
I have to wonder, for those that still believe that Darren Wilson is guilty of some form of murder, how is any prosecutor, even a special prosecutor, to overcome the burden of reasonable doubt? Lacking evidence to exonerate is not evidence of guilt, in logic or in the courts.
This is why the “I Support Darren Wilson” movement, specifically by cops, has been embraced so strongly across the country. Regardless of his guilt or innocence in the case of the shooting of Mike Brown, from day one it was clear that any of us on the street could be judged by the same mob to be guilty of murder in a justified shooting no matter what the evidence showed. Even if Wilson was guilty of murder, the badge he wore, the badge we continue to wear does not remove our fifth amendment right to due process. Watching the media, the mob, and members of the government convict an officer without evidence was recognized as the beginning of a dangerous precedent for all persons truly worried about civil rights and criminal law in this country.
I don’t presume to know what actually happened on Canfield. For all I know, definitive evidence condemning Darren Wilson may appear tomorrow, but as things stand now, an indictment is unlikely in my opinion. A conviction based upon evidence seems even more improbable at this point based upon logic, reason, and evidence. I’ve never had a preordained narrative as a starting point. Guilt or innocence for any party was never a default setting.