Dorian Johnson was walking with Michael Brown when they were stopped by Officer Darren Wilson. According to Johnson’s eyewitness account:
…a police car pulled up alongside Brown and him, and the officer—who has been identified as Darren Wilson—allegedly told Johnson and Brown to “get the f–k on the sidewalk.”
The two men told the officer that they were only minutes away from their destination. Johnson said that Wilson backed up his car and asked Brown and Johnson what they just said. Johnson claimed that Wilson then tried to open his car door but the door ricocheted off of Brown’s body and closed again.
Johnson said that Wilson pulled Brown through the car window by his neck, and Brown began to try to pull away. Johnson said that Wilson shot Brown during the scuffle, and Brown managed to break away from Wilson’s grip. Brown and Johnson then began to run away from the police vehicle.
Johnson said that Wilson got out of his car and began to shoot at Brown while Brown was running away. Brown then stopped, put his hands in the air, turned around and pleaded with the officer to stop shooting, since he didn’t have a gun.
Johnson said that Wilson continued to fire several more shots before Brown’s body fell to the ground.
That account is from The Root. The article there includes four other eyewitnesses collaborating parts or all of Johnson’s account.
Some right-wingers have doubted those accounts. On The 700 Club, Pat Robinson discussed the Michael Brown shooting:
“The facts aren’t totally clear,” he admitted. “But this great big guy — this gentle giant, they call him — went into a convenience store where he wanted some cigars. So, he stole some cigars. And when the clerk tried to stop him, he pushed the clerk aside, pushed him down, walked out into the middle of the street.”
“Now, was he high on some kind of drugs?” Robertson asked. “That hasn’t come out yet… But the next thing we understand was he was walking down the middle of the street and obstructing traffic, which says to me he probably was high on something.”
The televangelist speculated that Brown “knew he committed a crime,” but “the police maybe didn’t know about it yet.”
“So then, did this giant man charge the police officer, and the police officer tried to defend himself?” he wondered. “It doesn’t seem like there was some kind of wonton act of assassination or execution. That just doesn’t fit the pattern.”
Over on Ethics Alarms, Jack Marshall makes a similar case:
The witness accounts of the death of Mike Brown that have received all of the publicity suggest that the unarmed teen, after being shot in a police cruiser while resisting arrest, bolted from the car and was shot dead by Officer Darren Wilson as he tried to escape, even after the victim stopped and appeared to surrender.[…]
To those who are convinced that the police are evil, jack-booted racists and that a police officer with no record of equivalent misconduct would shoot down an unarmed and surrendering teen in public, this undoubtedly seems like a plausible scenario. It sure doesn’t to me. I can see one way it might have happened this way: After Brown, who was huge, hurt and frightened Wilson in the car when they fought, Wilson lost his composure, and fired in rage. If that was the case, then he should be prosecuted for murder. Nothing in even that scenario proves or even suggests racism, but Brown was black and the officer was white, and for too many in the African-American community, that is proof enough.
Now another account has surfaced, on that might support Wilson’s account. It is also more plausible, because it both explains and even justifies the shooting. That account suggests that rather than turning from his flight and surrendering, Brown charged Wilson, placing him in legitimate fear of bodily harm.
In both Robertson’s and Marshall’s accounts, that the police officer Wilson might have been the aggressor and acted irrationally is dismissed as not fitting “the pattern” and not a “plausible scenario.” However, neither of them comments on how implausible it seems that Michael Brown, suddenly and for no apparent reason, decided to essentially commit suicide by cop.
Someone claiming to be a friend of Officer Wilson has been telling what she says is Wilson’s side of the story. CNN somewhat confirms this, saying “A source with detailed knowledge of the investigation later told CNN the caller’s account is ‘accurate,’ in that it matches what Wilson has told investigators.”
In this version of the story, which has been widely reproduced by conservative news sources, Brown literally dares Wilson to shoot him:
And then Michael just bum-rushes him [Darren] and shoves him back into his car, punches him in the face. And then Darren grabs for his gun. Michael grabbed for the gun. At one point he got the gun entirely turned against his hip. And he shoves it away. And the gun goes off.
Well, then Michael takes off with his friend and gets to be about 35 feet away. And Darren’s first protocol is to pursue. So he stands up and yells, “Freeze!” Michael and his friend turn around. And Michael was taunting him, ‘Oh what you’re gonna do about it. You’re not going to shoot me.’
And then all of a sudden he [Michael] just started to bumrush him [Darren]. He just started coming at him full speed. And, so he [Darren] just started shooting. And he [Michael] just kept coming. So he [Darren] really thinks he [Michael] was on something because he just kept coming. It was unbelievable. So he finally ended up, the final shot was to the forehead. And then he [Michaelo] fell about two, three feet in front of the officer.
To suggest that a cop would suddenly and for no apparent reason shoot an unarmed teenager is, right-wingers like Robertson and Marshall say, outside “the pattern” and not “plausible.” But somehow, they don’t find it implausible that an unarmed black teenage boy for no apparent reason charges an armed cop, virtually (and in some accounts literally) begging to be shot.
I don’t know what the truth is. It’s possible that Brown irrationally attacked Wilson (and the witnesses to the contrary misunderstood events); it’s possible that Wilson irrationally shot Brown; we just don’t know for sure, and maybe we won’t ever know. But to say shucks golly, it’s just plain implausible that any cop would ever act like that, while not finding anything at all implausible in thinking that a college-bound black kid suddenly decided to attack an armed cop, is an obvious double-standard.
Of course, a similar double-standard was in play after George Zimmerman shot Trayvon Martin. We were told over and over again that it was ridiculous to suggest that Zimmerman started a fight with Martin (even though Zimmerman was the one stalking Martin in the dark with a gun), but the same people had no problem accepting that Martin attacked Zimmerman for no apparent reason. For young black men to suddenly and for no reason commit irrational attacks is never seen as “implausible.”
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Some more Ferguson-related links:
Missouri GOP: Michael Brown Voting Registration Booths ‘Disgusting’ The person objecting to voter registration is Missouri RNC executive director Matt Wills. Nice.
When it comes to police mistreatment and harassment, Blacks and whites live in entirely different universes. Which relates to my post above: The white conservatives who declare what stories are and aren’t “plausible” believe that they’re speaking from a neutral, unbiased view. But actually they’re speaking from the perspective of white people who aren’t in a position to be aware of even a small fraction of the irrational police harassment Blacks face.
[Post later edited to add in Dorian Johnson’s account. –Amp]