MSNBC evening host Chris Hayes recorded yet another interview on the Ferguson situation yesterday, this time with Michael Brown’s friend and fellow convenience store robber Dorian Johnson. Early on, he begins reading selected excerpts from the testimony of Officer Darren Wilson and then asking Johnson to give his version of events. One of the early examples is where Hayes reads Wilson’s description of how it all started. (Go to roughly the three minute mark in the linked video for this. I won’t embed it here for you, as it is set to autoplay only.)
CHRIS HAYES: [Officer Wilson] says, “Why don’t you guys walk on the sidewalk.” Now, is that what he said to you?
DORIAN JOHNSON: He did not say that to me. He did not say you can walk on the sidewalk. He said you get the F on the sidewalk. His exact words to me.
CH: So that’s a key difference. From what you testified, from the beginning this was a a hostile interaction. It was get the F up on the sidewalk.
CH: That happens here. Now here’s another piece of testimony. He backs his car in reverse. Right here. Right? And he says he tries to open the door and Mike Brown slams the door shut and says what the F are you going to do about it. Shuts my door. Slams it shut. Is that what you saw happen?
DJ: That’s not what I saw happen.
It goes on at great length from there with a rather obvious theme and purpose. Johnson is being given the opportunity to try to discredit the testimony of Officer Wilson and cast more doubt on the Grand Jury proceedings, speaking as the only living eye witness on the scene. But it certainly seems odd that Hayes would go to such great lengths to set up and air this interview without first mentioning some key facts about his interview subject.
It was his own network, back on August 12th of this year, who published the first accounting of the events of that day provided by Dorian Johnson. Does Chris Hayes recall what he said at that time?
“They’re not wrestling so much as his arm went from his throat to now clenched on his shirt,” Johnson explained of the scene between Brown and the officer. “It’s like tug of war. He’s trying to pull him in. He’s pulling away, that’s when I heard, ‘I’m gonna shoot you.’”
At that moment, Johnson says he fixed his gaze on the officer to see if he was pulling a stun gun or a real gun. That’s when he saw the muzzle of the officer’s gun.
“I seen the barrel of the gun pointed at my friend,” he said. “He had it pointed at him and said ‘I’ll shoot,’ one more time.”
A second later Johnson said he heard the first shot go off.
“I seen the fire come out of the barrell,” he said. “I could see so vividly what was going on because I was so close.”
Johnson is lying. We now know from forensic evidence that there were two shots and they did not go out the window. One of them was embedded inside the vehicle. And in order for us to believe this tale, we would have to accept that a trained law enforcement officer was such an incredibly bad shot that he was unable to aim his weapon out the window of the cruiser without shooting his own door.
Brown and Johnson took off running together. There were three cars lined up along the side of the street. Johnson says he ducked behind the first car, whose two passengers were screaming. Crouching down a bit, he watched Brown run past.
“Keep running, bro!,” he said Brown yelled. Then Brown yelled it a second time. Those would be the last words Johnson’s friend, “Big Mike,” would ever say to him.
Brown made it past the third car. Then, “blam!” the officer took his second shot, striking Brown in the back. At that point, Johnson says Brown stopped, turned with his hands up and said “I don’t have a gun, stop shooting!”
Johnson is lying. Multiple autopsies showed that Brown was never shot in the back.
By that point, Johnson says the officer and Brown were face-to-face. The officer then fired several more shots. Johnson described watching Brown go from standing with his hands up to crumbling to the ground and curling into a fetal position.
Johnson is lying. The blood evidence shows that after they ran for some distance, Brown turned and traveled at least 21 feet back in the direction of Wilson. None of the above items require us to rely on he said she said testimony from various people. It’s just the evidence found on the scene.
Now, with all of that in mind, why is Chris Hayes filling the airwaves with more tripe from Dorian Johnson? The man is a proven liar, not only in this instance, but from his rap sheet which includes a previous conviction for lying to the police. Much has been made of the credibility of various witnesses, including Darren Wilson. And it is absolutely true that Officer Wilson as an interested witness, as the legal eagles say, meaning that he had a vested interest in not being indicted. The jury was instructed to take that into account.
But the credibility question goes both ways. All of these questions work to muddy the waters and feed into unrest. While the truth certainly should be discovered, is there no point at which someone’s credibility sinks to the point where reporters on cable news networks will no longer trot them out and treat their claims with the same level of credibility we assign to anyone else? Dorian Johnson, once again, is a serial liar. This has been proven over and over again. But he’s still somehow a media star worthy of refuting a police officer’s testimony on national television? Are we to believe that he is now speaking one or two segments of absolute truth sprinkled in with the web of mendacity he’s woven up until now?
This interview is not offering clarity, seeking the truth or contributing to the public discussion. It’s the broadcasting and legitimizing of discredited lies from a discredited liar. Sadly, those comments will be taken as yet more “proof” that the liberals currently taking to the streets are justified in their righteous indignation.