The shooting of Michael Brown occurred on August 9, 2014, in Ferguson, Missouri, United States, a suburb of St. Louis. Brown, an 18-year-old man, died after being shot at least six times by Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson, 28. Brown was unarmed and had no criminal record. According to Ferguson police, Brown was a suspect in a robbery committed minutes before the shooting, although the initial contact between Wilson and Brown was unrelated to the robbery. The Ferguson police have changed their story of the shooting several times. Wilson has served four years with the Ferguson Police Department and two years with another local police department. He had no disciplinary history.
The incident sparked unrest in Ferguson, largely due to questions of racism as a factor in the shooting, since Brown was African American, while Wilson is white. Peaceful protests, vandalism, and other forms of social unrest have continued for more than a week, with night curfew being imposed and escalated violence. Widespread media coverage examined the trend of local police departments arming themselves with "military-grade weapons" and responding in a military fashion when dealing with protesting civilians and journalists covering volatile current events.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) opened a civil rights investigation of the shooting. U.S. President Barack Obama issued a statement expressing condolences to Brown's family and committed the U.S. Department of Justice to conduct an investigation.
On August 16, after the police were criticized for "standing down" rather than acting to impede looters who inflicted substantial losses on several Ferguson businesses, Missouri Governor Jay Nixon declared a state of emergency and implemented nightly curfews in Ferguson from midnight to 5:00 a.m.
Michael Brown (d. August 9, 2014) was the son of Lesley McSpadden and Mike Brown, Sr. Brown graduated from Normandy High School in St. Louis on August 1, 2014 after completing an alternative learning program. The St. Louis Dispatch reported that, according to his teachers, he was "a student who loomed large and didn't cause trouble", and referred to him as a "gentle giant" (he was 6'4" tall and weighed 292 lbs at the time of his death).
Brown was to have started attending Vatterott College, a technical school, on August 11, two days after he was killed.According to Benjamin Crump, the lawyer representing the Brown family, he wanted to become a heating and cooling engineer. A friend of Brown said, that while everybody else wanted to be a basketball or football player, Brown wanted to own his own business.
Brown was an amateur rapper, calling himself Big'Mike when posting online solo and duet tracks in the hard-driving trap hip hop style.
|Ethnicity ||White |
|Occupation ||Police officer |
|Employer ||Ferguson Police Department |
Darren Wilson lived in Crestwood, Missouri, a city of 11,000 people about 18 miles southwest of Ferguson. He was 28 years old at the time of the shooting.
On August 16, Yahoo News published a photo of Darren Wilson from February, in which he was seen receiving a commendation for "extraordinary effort in the line of duty". His name was released by Ferguson police one week after the shooting incident.
According to a Ferguson Police report of a robbery incident, on August 9 at 11:51 a.m., two African-American males identified by police as Michael Brown, 18, and Dorian Johnson, 22, were observed at a convenience store in a strong-arm robbery. There were conflicting reports by Ferguson police about the connection of the robbery to the shooting.
At 12:01 p.m. on August 9, Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson drove up to Brown and Johnson in the 2900 block of Canfield Drive and ordered them to move off the street and onto the sidewalk. An altercation ensued and a shot was fired from within Wilson's police vehicle, and the two men began to flee. Wilson left his vehicle and pursued them. At some point moments later, Wilson fired an unspecified number of shots, fatally wounding Brown. Brown died approximately 35 feet (11 m) from the police cruiser. According to CNN correspondent Ana Cabrera, documents show that less than three minutes passed from the time that Wilson encountered Brown to the time of Brown's death. A preliminary private autopsy performed at the request of Brown's family by Dr. Michael Baden concluded that Brown had been shot at least six times. Four of the bullets entered his right arm, one entered his right eye on a downward trajectory, and one entered the top of the skull.
Ferguson Police Department release of information
Ferguson Police Chief Tom Jackson announced the name of the officer involved in the shooting in a news conference the morning of Friday, August 15, nearly a week after the officer shot Brown on Saturday afternoon. Jackson prefaced the name announcement by describing a "strong-arm" robbery that had occurred a few minutes before the shooting at a nearby convenience store. A police report released to members of the media at the news conference described Brown as the suspect involved in the robbery.
Hours later, Jackson held another news conference in which he said Wilson wasn't aware of the robbery when he stopped Brown.
Jackson later told NBC News that while the officer who shot Brown initially stopped him for walking in the street and blocking traffic, "at some point" during the encounter the officer saw cigars in Brown’s hands and thought he might be a suspect in the robbery.
In addition to the account provided by Dorian Johnson, a number of individuals have come forward with eyewitness accounts or video footage of events after the shooting. Tiffany Mitchell arrived in the area to pick up co-worker Piaget Crenshaw, both of whom gave interviews to local and national news media.
Dorian Johnson's account
According to Michael Brown's friend, Dorian Johnson, who was walking with Brown at the time, the police officer pulled up beside them and said, "Get the fuck on the sidewalk." Johnson said the young men replied that they were "not but a minute away from [their] destination, and [they] would shortly be out of the street". Johnson states that the officer drove forward without saying anything further, only to abruptly back up, positioning his vehicle crossways in their path, almost hitting the two men. Said Johnson, "We were so close, almost inches away, that when he tried to open his door aggressively, the door ricocheted both off me and Big Mike's body and closed back on the officer."
At that point, the officer, still in his car, grabbed Brown through the open window around the neck. Brown tried to pull away, but the officer continued to pull Brown toward him.
According to Johnson, Brown "did not reach for the officer's weapon at all", insisting that Brown was attempting to get free of the officer rather than attempting to attack him or take his weapon from him.
At that point, according to Johnson, the officer drew his weapon, and "he said, 'I'll shoot you' or 'I'm going to shoot,'" and almost instantaneously fired his weapon, hitting Brown.
Following the initial gunshot, Johnson said that Brown was able to free himself, at which point the two fled for their lives. The officer exited the vehicle, after which he fired a second shot, striking Brown in the back according to Johnson. At that point, according to Johnson, Brown turned around with his hands in the air and said, "I don't have a gun. Stop shooting!" The officer then shot Brown several more times, killing him. Johnson's attorney stated that officer Wilson did not attempt to resuscitate Brown, did not call for medical help, and “he didn’t call it in that someone had been shot.”
The resulting autopsy from Dr. Michael M. Baden revealed that all bullets were fired into the front of Brown, which appears to contradict Johnson's account that Brown was shot in the back.
Piaget Crenshaw's account
Piaget Crenshaw, a witness to the shooting, said that from her vantage point, it appeared that the police officer and Brown were arm wrestling before the officer initially shot Brown from within his vehicle. The officer then chased Brown for about 20 feet before shooting him again. Crenshaw stated, "I saw the police chase him...down the street and shoot him down." She added that when Brown then raised his arms, the officer shot him two more times, killing him.
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