Two eyewitness accounts of the Michael Brown shooting

Some of you saw these elsewhere over the weekend but I want to put them together for those who didn’t, especially given the interest in the new autopsy report. Here’s how the attorney for Dorian Johnson, Brown’s companion and the only identified eyewitness to the shooting, described what happened:

The officer put his cruiser in reverse, Bosley said, and pulled up so close that when he opened the door, it bumped Johnson and Brown. “Through the window of his cruiser, he grabs Big Mike by the throat,” Bosley said. “Big Mike tries to move away. The officer grabs his shirt.”

Johnson, who was a student at Lincoln University, saw the officer pull out a gun. “He shoots Big Mike somewhere in the chest or arm,” Bosley said. “Dorian sees blood coming from the chest.”

Johnson took off running and hid behind the first car he saw, Bosley said. “Big Mike runs by him. He says to Dorian, ‘Keep running,’ ” Bosley said. “The officer chases Big Mike. He fires a shot and hits Big Mike in the back. Big Mike turns around. [Brown] puts his hands up. The officer shoots him five or six more times.”

Per the autopsy report, the detail about Brown being hit in the back is flat wrong and the detail about him having his hands up seems quite possibly wrong. What do other eyewitnesses say, though? Were there other eyewitnesses? Well, this guy whose profile claims he’s from St. Louis seemed to have live-tweeted the shooting on August 9th. The key bits:

His full tweet-stream that day is here. Note the third one above, though: A friend asks if Darren Wilson fired at Brown’s back and the tweeter says yes, twice. Obviously he missed but you can understand now why Johnson might have thought Brown had been hit from behind. If he was running too, glimpsed Brown running out of the corner of his eye, heard the shots, and then turned only after Brown had already turned and been hit from the front, he might have assumed (wrongly) that Brown was in the process of running when he was first hit. Either way, though, “TheePharoah” is going to end up on the witness stand for the prosecution testifying that Officer Wilson fired at Brown’s back more than once.

The other eyewitness account comes via Conservative Treehouse, which noticed a material snippet of conversation towards the end of the now widely-viewed cellphone video of the crime scene embedded below. (Brown’s body is visible so here’s your content warning.) The relevant part starts at around 6:25. Here’s how Conservative Treehouse transcribes the conversation:

#1 How’d he get from there to there?

#2 Because he ran, the police was still in the truck – cause he was like over the truck


#2 But him and the police was both in the truck, then he ran – the police got out and ran after him


#2 Then the next thing I know he coming back toward him cus – the police had his gun drawn already on him –

#1. Oh, the police got his gun

#2 The police kept dumpin on him, and I’m thinking the police kept missing – he like – be like – but he kept coming toward him


#2 Police fired shots – the next thing I know – the police was missing

I’m having trouble making out some of the beginning and the end of the audio well enough to track the transcript; I actually don’t hear the second boldfaced part and I don’t hear the part where the guy allegedly says Brown and the police was “both in the truck.” That would be new information, if true; what he says about Brown being “over the truck,” i.e. standing next to it when Wilson stopped them, fits with what he know. Either way, though, the middle part is clear. The eyewitness does seem to say “he coming back toward him,” apparently meaning Brown turned after initially running away from Wilson and came back towards him. Whether that means Brown was “bumrushing” him, as an alleged friend of Wilson’s claimed, or was just walking back is unclear. It’s also unclear from this when Wilson fired his first shot. Was it when Brown was running away, with his back to him, or was it when he had already turned and was coming towards Wilson?

Don’t these cops have tasers, by the way? The one fact that’s not in dispute as far as I know is that Brown was unarmed and yet Wilson emptied at least six shots into him, per the autopsy report, and may well have missed hitting him in the back once or twice before that. A squad equipped with a Bearcat and M4s should also have room in its inventory for non-lethal means to bring down even a big man like Brown. As Mark Steyn said, “[W]hether or not the fatal shooting of Mr Brown is a crime, it’s certainly a mistake. When an unarmed shoplifter* in T-shirt and shorts with a five-buck cigar box in one hand has to be shot dead, you’re doing it wrong.”

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Jazz Shaw 5:31 PM on February 04, 2023