Another Puzzle Piece

robberystrongarmedrobbery2For 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.



One thought on “Another Puzzle Piece

  1. I agree that an indictment will not be forthcoming. There shouldn’t be one and hopefully the members of the grand jury will have the courage to do the right thing.

    I have posited in many discussions that the “robbery” (relatively) immediately preceding the encounter between Brown and Wilson was a factor because even if Wilson wasn’t aware of what had happened, Brown was VERY aware. And his aggressive behavior in the store escalated what could have been a simple shoplifting charge to a felony strong-arm robbery. I don’t understand how people can watch that video and not understand that it would affect Brown’s decision making when he allegedly grabbed at Wilson and his gun. How else do you explain a “gentle giant” reacting so aggressively to being told to get off the street? Even if Wilson had commanded him disrespectfully, and there is NO indication that he did, BROWN’S actions are NOT justifiable.

    My guess is that Brown assumed he was about to get busted for the robbery and, was still feeling the effects of an adrenaline rush from the confrontation at the store. He would have been agitated and that could explain his aggression towards Wilson.I admit that’s total conjecture on my part and certainly has no place in a court of law but it has its place in the court of public opinion. Racking my brain I can honestly say I can’t imagine any other explanation for Brown’s aggressiveness. I just don’t buy Dorian’s story that Wilson, sitting in his cruiser, reached out through the window and tried to pull Brown into the vehicle. Through the window. That just seems to defy the laws of physics. The only way Brown was going through that window was if he chose to.

    It’s too simplistic and trivializing to just say Michael Brown did not deserve to die. If Darren Wilson is like the cops I know, he regrets those shots every day when he wakes up and every night when he goes to bed. But I also think he acted in fear for his life. If only Brown had stopped and made a conciliatory gesture, like dropping to his knees with his hands behind his head instead of, as has been attributed to witnesses, turning and heading back towards Wilson. In hindsight it’s easy to say Wilson could have waited a second or two more but I don’t think he felt he had that luxury. He needed to make a split-second decision, with which he will live for the rest of his life.

    I hope with all my heart that there will be no indictment and that there will be peaceful responses to the announcement. The good people of Ferguson deserve to protest and demand changes. Body cams for all officers would be a good start. But what they DON’T need is more trouble, more violence, rioting. People who don.’t LIVE in Ferguson should stay away, especially if they are looking to instigate confrontation. Clashes between the people and law enforcement won’t end well if a mob mentality is allowed to ferment and then explodes. Hopefully community leaders in Ferguson have met with law enforcement and devised a peaceful but powerful means to let the people protest and to effect change in police/community relations.


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