The story continues as Michael Brown, a Black, unarmed older teenager at 18 years old was shot by a 28 year old White Police Officer, Darren Wilson on 8/9/2014 around 2964 Canfield Dr., in Ferguson, MO. At 12:03 someone tweeted about witnessing Michael Brown having been fatally shot. There is an audio track with glide technology that captured the background shots in Ferguson on 8/9/14 as first reported by CNN on 8/28/14. The glide technology reflects the time of 12:02:14 as per Whonoze.com. Within a few minutes later, two Ferguson Police Officers arrived at the scene of the crime. Eventually the Sergeant supervisor arrived to instruct Officer Brown to return to the Ferguson Police Department offices to wait for further instructions. By 12:43 p.m., the ST. Louis County Police Department received a request by Ferguson’s chief for assistance in investigating a police shooting. By 1:30 p.m., multiple St. Louis County police and Ferguson personnel were present. Several orange traffic cones had already been placed at various locations next to items of possible evidentiary value. Michael Brown’s Mom, Leslie McSpadden approached the detectives as they arrived on the scene to inform them that it was her son laying in the middle of the road. By the time the St. Louis County detectives arrived at 1:30 p.m., someone had placed a white sheet over his body and his Mom watched him lay there for over four hours. The detectives then placed orange screens around the body.
From the start, Police Officer Darren Wilson claimed to have shot Michael Brown because he perceived that he was in fear of being seriously injured. The legal standard is not just that Officer Wilson perception was him being in fear for his life but was this perception reasonable. It is at this point that the issue of racism becomes crucial. The question is was Officer Wilson in fear for his life based on the reality of the circumstances or was he in fear because he perceived a threat based on racial stereotyping and racism? His police training should have provided him with the tools to render a judgment based on the reality of what most reasonable people would have observed versus his reality viewed through the prism of racist’s eyes.
Police Officer Darren Wilson had just wanted structure and order in his life while helping and serving others. He had been raised with a very troubled home life. His Mother had married multiple times, moved from Texas to a couple of places in Missouri; received a five year sentence for forgery and stealing that she served on probation. She died of natural causes when she was 35 years old at the time her son was attending St. Charles West High School. She left him with two younger half siblings and a step father who was his guardian until he turned 18 years old.
Unfortunately, Darren Wilson’s wish for a less chaotic life vanished the minute he graduated from the police academy and accepted a position within the Jennings Police Department in 2009. The city of Jennings had a population of 14,000 with 89% being African American. The Jennings Police Department was so rife with complaints regarding police abuse of power, corruption and problems of racism, that in March of 2011, the city council voted 6 to 1 to disband the entire police force of over 40 officers. All the officers were fired but 12 were rehired. He was considered to be a good officer with no disciplinary actions on his record but not an outstanding one. It was at this time that Police Officer Darren Wilson decided to go to work for the Ferguson Police Department.
Darren began his employment with the Ferguson Police Department in 2011 where he and his first wife led a quiet life. To make ends meet, he started also working at a second job as a security officer in a department store. He filed for a divorce from his first wife in 2013 and had developed a serious relationship with a fellow officer whom he married in October 2014. In 2014, he had even received a formal commendation for assisting in arresting a suspect in possession of a large amount of marijuana. Life was getting better.
But this is where Michael Brown’s memorial tells the story. When the reporter from the Washington Post called the Ferguson Police Department’s Public Relation’s Specialist, Officer Timothy Zoll to inquire about Michael Brown’s memorial being deliberately over run, he was surprised by Officer’s Zoll comments about the memorial being a just a pile of thrash. That the Ferguson PD’s own media officer didn’t hesitate to speak like this to a reporter from a major paper is emblematic to the level of racism and insensitivity practiced within their halls.
It was from this environment that Officer Wilson saw a big black man menacingly charging towards him with an indescribable look on his face to where the officer felt that he had no choice but to keep on firing his gun at Michael Brown until there were no bullets left in his gun except one still in the chamber. Others observing the same scene saw an injured man, with one arm clutching his chest and the other lifted slightly with his palms open showing that he had nothing and was not a threat as he kept stumbling forward trying to stay upright on his feet.
Officer Wilson’s police training did not stress proper police protocol. According to a 1985 Supreme court ruling Garner v Tennessee, Officer Wilson did not have the authority to pursue Michael Brown as he was fleeing and he definitely should not have been shooting in the direction of his back. This explains why Officer Wilson during his grand jury testimony, volunteered without any prompting that he pursued Michael Brown because the suspect could put others in danger which is the one exception to the supreme court ruling. Again, if we resort to the common sense or reasonable person test, most people would determine that it was the officer placing others in danger as he fired his gun shooting in area where other people were present.
The upstart.bizjournals.com makes reference on a 8/29/14 article to a local Ferguson resident who was using his smartphone with glide technology with Glide placing the time of the shooting at 12:02:14.
Thus, there is definitive, scientific evidence available that could confirm that Officer was shooting in Michael Brown’s direction as he was fleeing. Whonoze has referenced the DailyKos by Jeff Motron who reports that there is sound gunshot data analyzed, demonstrating that the sound pattern proves that Officer Wilson was shooting at Michael Brown as he was trying to run away.
Here are excerpts from the Daily Kos by Jeff Motron on 12/1/14:
“To summarize: Wilson claims that Brown was charging toward him, that Wilson began to fire his gun when Brown was about 15 feet away, and that Brown continued to advance without slowing down until the final gunshot stopped him.
Is there an objective timeline of these gunshots? Fortunately for us (and unfortunately for Wilson, had the prosecution actually been interested in prosecuting the case), there is. A nearby resident who was in an online voice chat at the time obtained audio of all the gunshots fired in the street (that is, the two gunshots that occurred at Wilson’s SUV were not included). Here is a visualization of the recording:
We can see that six shots (marked in red) were fired within a span of approximately two seconds. There was then a three second pause before the seventh shot was fired. The eighth shot came one second later, followed quickly by shot 9 and then shot 10. The total time was 6.572 seconds.
To reiterate, Wilson claims that Brown was charging toward Wilson throughout the time that Wilson fired these shots. It seems a fair assumption that Wilson’s use of the word “charge” would mean that Brown was sprinting. How much ground can a sprinting human cover in 6.572 seconds?
Let’s start, just for curiosity’s sake, with the fastest speed ever recorded for a human on foot: 27.44 mph by Usain Bolt. At that speed, Bolt would cover 264 feet in 6.572 seconds.
Obviously, Brown wasn’t an elite sprinter; he doesn’t look to have been much of an athlete, period. So let’s try to get a more realistic estimate. Your average human isn’t going to have a record of their sprinting speed available. One place where humans are regularly recorded sprinting short distances is the NFL combine’s 40 yard dash. In 2014, the fastest 40 yard dash time was running back Dri Archer’s 4.26 seconds; the slowest was offensive lineman Cyrus Kouandjio’s 5.59 seconds. Kouandjio’s listed measurements are 6’6″, 311 pounds, so he’s of similar proportions to Michael Brown’s 6’4″, 292. Still, Kouandjio is an athlete, unlike Brown.
Every year at the combine ESPN’s Rich Eisen also runs the 40 just for fun, wearing a full suit. This year he ran it in 5.98 seconds.
The average speeds: a really fast NFL player, 19.2 mph. A really slow NFL player, 14.6 mph. A 45-year-old non-athlete, 13.7 mph. Because these dashes came from stationary starts, these are lower than the top sustained speeds, but I’m more interested in a low-end estimate, so that’s okay. Additionally, the National Council on Strength & Fitness says that “the average man can run about 15 mph for short periods.”
Let’s be really conservative and say that Michael Brown could only sprint at 10 mph. (For another point of reference to how slow of a “sprint” this would be, world-class marathoners can maintain 12 mph for two hours.) Even at 10 mph, he could have covered 96 feet in 6.572 seconds.
To summarize: Darren Wilson claims that he started shooting at Michael Brown when Brown was 15 feet away and charging toward him, and that Brown continued to advance without slowing until the final shot was fired. A conservative estimate of the distance Brown would have covered if he was continuously charging for the duration of the shots is more than 90 feet.
Clark [Ralph Clark, CEO of ShotSpotter] said the recording has a three-second pause after the first six shots before the final four shots. His experts were also able to confirm that the shots were all taken from within a three-foot radius – there was only one shooter and that person was not moving.
The bottom line: Wilson’s description of the events is simply impossible given the physical evidence.”
Whonoze.com presents another interesting point, that “the Double Jeopardy Clause of the Fifth Amendment does not attach in a grand jury proceeding, or bar a grand jury from returning an indictment when a prior grand jury has refused to do so” – per Wikipedia.”
Within a half hour from the shooting the Ferguson police chief, the captain, lieutenant, Sergeant supervisor and three other officers showed up at the crime scene and Officer Wilson was advised to return to the police department without anyone making any attempts to confiscate the gun.
The story, part III continues in my next blog.