Report: At least seven black witnesses have corroborated Darren Wilson's testimony before the Ferguson grand jury

An addendum to Ed’s post this morning. Per WaPo, it’s not just the forensic evidence that’s backing Wilson up.

[M]ore than a half-dozen unnamed black witnesses have provided testimony to a St. Louis County grand jury that supports Wilson’s account of events of Aug. 9, according to several people familiar with the investigation who spoke with The Washington Post.

Some of the physical evidence — including blood spatter analysis, shell casings and ballistics tests — also supports Wilson’s account of the shooting, the Post sources said, which cast Brown as an aggressor who threatened the officer’s life. The sources spoke on condition of anonymity because they are prohibited from publicly discussing the case…

Benjamin L. Crump, a lawyer for the Brown family, said Brown’s family and supporters will not be persuaded by the autopsy report or eyewitness statements that back Wilson’s account of the incident

Exactly how high Brown’s hands were has been inconsistent in the accounts, and at least one witness said that after Brown was shot, he appeared to take a step toward Wilson. That witness said, however, Brown had his arms around his stomach before hitting the ground.

The Post doesn’t specify which details from Wilson’s account were supported by the witnesses (none of whom want to be named, of course, lest they face reprisals for being honest). Did they corroborate the fight in the front seat of the squad car when, Wilson claims, Brown grabbed his gun? The physical evidence supports that too: One forensic pathologist who reviewed the autopsy report noted that Brown’s hand wound wouldn’t have had gunpowder particulate in it unless his hand had been on or right next to Wilson’s gun. Two shell casings were also found in Wilson’s squad car, per the Post, supporting the fact that the gun was discharged twice inside the vehicle. Or did the witnesses corroborate the fatal shooting later, after Brown had moved away from the car and Wilson had gotten out? That’s what the case will turn on: If Wilson ends up being indicted, prosecutors will argue that, yes, Brown might have reached for Wilson’s gun but the subsequent shooting was unnecessary. Brown was already wounded; Wilson was shooting out of rage, not to repel a mortal threat.

Realistically, though, how likely is it that he’s going to be indicted at this point? Crump says he has seven witnesses who’ll say that Wilson gunned Brown down unjustifiably. Great, says the defense, we have seven witnesses who say the opposite plus a pile of forensic evidence that shows Brown, who’d just committed a robbery at the local convenience store, not only assaulted a police officer but attempted to seize his firearm. There’s little doubt, barring some bombshell evidence that the public doesn’t know about, that Wilson’s not going to be convicted. The question now is whether he’ll be charged. One theory for all the leaks lately is that law enforcement is trying to prepare the public for the fact that grand jury is unlikely to return an indictment, but I don’t know: Given what Crump said in the excerpt above plus protesters vowing that “it’s going to be a war” if Wilson isn’t charged, sounds like releasing the evidence early isn’t going to calm anyone down. On the contrary, it may be that this is being leaked because Wilson supporters fear that he’ll be unfairly indicted anyway for political reasons, even though there’s no probable cause to think he murdered Brown. That’s probably the outcome city leaders would prefer — indictment followed by acquittal so that they can say the system took the incident seriously enough to force Wilson to defend his actions in open court. Think that result would calm people down? Me neither.

One more odd detail from WaPo’s story: “The Post sources said the levels in Brown’s body may have been high enough to trigger hallucinations.” Er, okay, but isn’t the fact that Brown had just apparently committed a crime minutes before Wilson rolled up a more likely explanation for why he got aggressive? He had obvious reasons to fear police scrutiny at the time. Reefer madness seems like an odd theory of the case.

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