This is a continuation of a synopsis on the numerous eye witnesses which were all permitted to testify whether they had any credibility or not as Prosecutor Robert McCulloch decided not to bar anyone from testifying even when he knew some of those testifying would be providing false information. The grand jury had almost 75 hours to wade through about 5000 pages of transcripts, evidence and other documents while having to pay attention to about 60 witnesses as well as listening to audio records of all the eye witness police and FBI interviews. They were not permitted to take home any of their notes or anything else for review. They were provided unclear and confusing instructions and directions by the assistant prosecutors. This was mission impossible.
The young Witness 64 was firm in his belief that the officer shot at Michael Brown as he was running away with his back to the officer even though the FBI agents advised him that the autopsy showed definitely that Michael Brown was not shot in the leg, hip or back area. He said, “I can only state what I thought I saw.” The FBI agents did not mention the gun wound in the back of Michael Brown’s arm or that there were missed shots. Frankly, I found Witness 64 to be credible. Witness 42 interviewed by the FBI on 10/22/14 agrees with Witness 64. When the FBI agents explained to him that the autopsy showed no bullet wounds in the back, he held firm that the officer fired a shot in the direction of his backside as he was running away eastward which is the reason Michael Brown turned around.
The construction worker, Witness 36 who is White and an outsider to the area was queried by the FBI on 8/21/14, concurs with Witness 64. Witness 11 details similar 8/9 events to the FBI on 9/11/14. Witness 25 also supports Witness 64 version as per her 8/9 police statement except the police did not inquire about raised hands. Witness 18’s recollections mirrors that of Witness 64. Witness 16 had some inconsistencies in her police and FBI interviews but overall her statements are a match to Witness 64. During their FBI interviews, Witnesses 14, 17, and 34’s recollections line up with Witness 64 except that they did not see Officer Wilson shoot Michael Brown as he was running away. Witness 14 lived in the area for many years. He and his lady friend frequently sat outside on their porch when Michael Brown would regularly pass by but he always stopped to greet them to say a few words. He had done that on August 9, around 8:00 a.m. He said he saw the tussle between Michael Brown and Officer Wilson; he saw the first shot when Officer Wilson fired his gun while he was inside his SUV, he saw Michael Brown running east past the sidewalk to the driveway; Officer Wilson was yelling stop; Michael Brown had stopped to look at himself to see where he was hit; Michael Brown turned around with hands raised shoulder length and his hand did not move to his waist band; he was staggering while trying to stay on his feet; and he was no threat as Officer Wilson fired several shots. Witness 17 also lives in the area. He and his wife were sitting on their balcony but they did not know any of the players; however his accounts mirrors Witness 14. Witness 34 was trying to turn around his car to get way after the first shot while not hitting the white car behind him. He did witness the altercation; saw the first shot; heard the follow up shots but did not see them; thought Michael Brown was hit and that is why he turned; saw Michael Brown walk quickly towards the officer before he left. Witness 13 (based on 8/22 police interview) is the passenger in the white Monte Carlo that other witnesses referred to frequently in recounting what they saw. This is one car that Dorian Johnson wanted to enter but they said no to him. This witness is not from the Ferguson area, nor was she familiar with any of its residents or any of the players in this tragedy. As per her 8/22 police interview, she concurs with Witness 64’s version.
Witness 12 (based on 9/17 FBI interview), a Canfield area resident is in agreement with the confrontation at the police SUV driver’s side window area between Officer Wilson and Michael Brown; the occurrence of the first shot as the Officer was within his SUV; and the second shot which rang out as the officer was chasing Michael Brown as he was fleeing east. Unfortunately, at this point, Witness 12 decides to run inside his apartment to find his cell phone in order to record events, and by the time he returned, he was only able to observe the ending. Obviously, Witness 5, Dorian Johnson concurs with Witness 64 except he claims Michael Brown’s hands were raised high in the air with one arm lower because “Big Mike” was hurt.
Then there are eye witnesses who seemed to become confused or whose grand jury testimonies varied significantly from their original police statements. In Witness 10’s 8/11 police interview, he seems to become confused as to the timeline. He indicates that the events started at 8:40 a.m. but then he corrects himself and states that the time was around 11:40 a.m. It is as if he is trying to remember what he is supposed to say. He could not provide the phone number or the address of his employer but he could provide directions. Later, he says that on 8/9, he was working for an individual living in the apartments. He volunteers that he saw a blue Monte Carlo at the scene during the 8/11 interview and at the grand jury hearing. Other witnesses including those in the car describe the color as white. Then he added information that as Michael Brown was running away from the officer, he heard something metallic hit the ground. Also, Witness 10 originally stated that Michael Brown and Dorian Johnson were walking on the same sidewalk, behind him but in his grand jury testimony he explains that he initially saw the two boys in the middle of the street but closer to the curb. During the 8/11 interview, he indicates that he was about 100 yards away from the crime scene but during the grand jury hearing, he shortened the distance from 50 to 75 yards. At his initial police interview on 8/11, he places Michael Brown inside the police SUV for about 10 seconds but at the grand jury hearing, he testifies that Michael Brown’s upper body was leaning inside the SUV.
He is a witness who alleges that Michael Brown was charging in the officer’s direction before being fatally shot; that at no time, did he observe Michael Brown raising his hands; that Michael Brown’s hand moved towards his waist; and the police officer did not fire his gun as Michael Brown was fleeing until he turned around to face the officer. I do not consider Witness 10 to be credible due to the major changes in his various statements. In conclusion, this is a witness who would not hold up well under competent cross examination.
Then there is another witness who mostly agrees with the Officer Wilson and Witness 10 statements. Witness 48 is the middle school eye witness who on the 10/29/14 FBI interview, partly supports Witness 10’s allegations. He states that when the police officer was chasing Michael Brown, he was yelling stop, but the officer did not shoot at him when he was running away. He also recounts that Michael Brown was charging towards Officer Wilson before he was fatally wounded. His testimony varies from Witness 10 and Officer Wilson in that he did not see Michael Brown move his hand towards his waist; that he did see Michael Brown start to raise his arms shoulder height; and that he did not see Michael Brown leaning into Officer Wilson’s SUV with his hands. Witness 48 did indicate a bias during his grand jury hearing when he said Michael Brown deserved what happened after robbing a store and then charging at the police,(Volume XVIII Grand Jury Transcript, pages 66-67). The prosecutor did ask clarifying questions trying to confirm when Witness 48 learned about the convenient store theft. He said he heard it on the news. This information was leaked to the press on 8/15/14 which was before his FBI interview on 10/29. I also find it a problem that he specifically states that there were no other vehicles near the shooting event when all the witnesses including Witness 10 mention the Monte Carlo at the scene which was stuck behind the police SUV (page 71 of Volume XVIII).
The above are examples of what 12 grand jurors waded through for 25 days in total. With the prosecutors not doing any vetting of the various witnesses regarding their credibility before the hearing, it is no wonder that Prosecutor Robert McCulloch was able to announce to the world on 11/24/2014 that the jurors could not indict Police Officer Darren Wilson, due in part to all the contradicting eye witness statements. In a recent December 2014 interview, he admitted that he had prior knowledge that some eye witnesses were not credible but early on, he had made the strategic decision to permit the grand jury testimony by anyone who alleged that they possessed pertinent information regarding the 8/9/14 Ferguson shooting. Personally, I counted at least 11 eyewitnesses that no prosecutor or defense attorney would ever allow near a courtroom if they like prevailing. I found that 9 witnesses including Witness 64 who are in agreement on the major facts counter to Officer Wilson’s assertions plus 3 more who concur with Witness 64 except they do not recall Officer Wilson shooting at Michael Brown when he was running away. Then there is Witness 10 who fully concurs with Officer Wilson’s accounts and Witness 48 who mostly agrees except for the three points mentioned above.
There has been a lot of talk about Michael Brown having raised his hands high above his head as a sign of surrender before being fatally shot by Police Officer Darren Wilson. All of what I consider the more credible witnesses have stated that Michael Brown’s hands were raised about shoulder height for at least some of the time. Outlier witnesses include Witness 10 and Officer Wilson who say they never saw any raised arms and Witness 5, Dorian Johnson who states that “Big Mike’s” arms were raised high with one arm lower because he had been hurt.