Predictably, the police department closed ranks around its officer. They pointed out that Brown had stolen some beer from a local convenience store moments earlier. They hinted he had marijuana in his system. They tried to stomp out the credibility of a dead teenager because the optics looked so awful for them. The police’s instinctive defense backfired. The national media, especially cable news networks and enterprising liberal news websites, occupied Ferguson for days on end, looking for and finding evidence that the police were out of control, that racism was everywhere, and that Ferguson resembled forsaken third world cities where footage of confrontations between police and protestors was the norm.
Whenever a witness spoke up to cast doubt on the official narrative — that the shooting of Brown was simply a homicide committed by the state — the wisdom collective would give one of two responses. First, they’d say that the witness was wrong. If the witness refused to give his or her name, then his or her information was totally worthless. Had to be. Then they’d say, even if the witness was right, the underlying facts of the case were the same. Even if Brown had somehow gotten into an actual confrontation with the police, the shooting still represented something far more insidious than the sum of its parts.
Well — several months later, the official autopsy was found to be consistent with police accounts that the shooting came after Brown reached for the officer’s gun during an altercation. And two reporters for The Washington Post, including a Pulitzer-Prize winning journalist whose reputation for holding powerful interests accountable is documented, write that “more than a half-dozen unnamed black witnesses have provided testimony to a St. Louis County grand jury that largely supports Wilson’s account of events on Aug. 9,” citing several sources who asked for anonymity. Forensic analysts who’ve read the autopsy largely support the conclusion that Brown had reached for Wilson’s gun.