Part 3: There’s no proof that Mike Brown was a threat to Darren Wilson when Wilson shot him in the head

This post is part of a series, “Challenging Accepted Narratives on Mike Brown and Notions of Justice,” which reexamines and challenges the publicly accepted narrative surrounding Mike Brown’s death. The series illustrates that what most people accepted as the truth, was simply not so. You can read the introduction to the series here.

A year ago, Mike Brown was killed and it was his fault. That’s what you were told. That’s what you believed.

Darren Wilson’s story was that he had to kill Mike Brown because after Brown attacked him and tried to take his gun, he charged at Wilson. The publicly accepted narrative is that witnesses who supported the claim that Brown charged at Wilson—making him feel threatened and justifying the killing—were more reliable than those that didn’t and that evidence also supported their testimony. However, the grand jury evidence and testimony released by prosecutors confirm that these assertions are false.

Witnesses on charging

There were thirty-three eyewitnesses that testified to at least part of the incident between Mike Brown and Darren Wilson that resulted in Wilson killing Brown. Of those witnesses, seven did not see the final part of the altercation where Brown allegedly charged at Wilson. Twenty-two witnesses that did see it said he did not charge. Most of these witnesses said Brown appeared to be walking or stumbling. For example, Witness 17 testified that, “he walked out in the middle of the street with his hands up to his sides, that’s when … the officer fired” (Grand Jury, Vol. IX, 88-89); Witness 33 said, “He was kind of moving at him like I’m giving up, hands up” (Grand Jury, Vol. XIII, 241); and Witness 36 said, “He was kind of coming forward still, so he was going with his feet, shuffling to catch himself” (Grand Jury, Vol. XII, 186).

A St. Louis County Police detective also testified about interviewing an additional witness who said Brown had his hands up with his “palms up with his hands and fingers roughly shoulder height, elbows not touching his rib cage” and appeared to be checking his wounds (Grand Jury, Vol. VIII, 179-180). The witness also said Brown moved toward Wilson, but not in a threatening way (Grand Jury, Vol. VIII, 180, 185).

If you’re savvy at math, you have already realized that only four eyewitnesses said Brown charged at Wilson. That’s right—four out of thirty-three witnesses verified Wilson’s account that Brown charged at him, thereby threatening his life.

According to St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Robert P. McCulloch, “jurors were able to assess the credibility of the witnesses, including those witnesses whose statements and testimony remained consistent throughout every interview and were consistent with the physical evidence” (Statement of St Louis Prosecuting Attorney Robert P McCulloch). This distortion was also parroted by the mainstream media.

Listening to McCulloch, it’s easy to believe that the four witnesses must have been so incredibly reliable and convincing that jurors couldn’t have possibly believed the stories of twenty-two other witnesses. After all, if Brown was not a threat to Wilson when he shot a bullet into his head, then Wilson would be a murderer. And for many, that would have been impossible to believe. But with videos that show the killing of Walter Scott, Samuel Dubose, and others, the problem of police brutality is becoming hard to ignore.

Witnesses who said Brown was charging

In the case against Wilson, the only witnesses who said Brown was charging were Witnesses 10, 40, 26, and 48. Examining these witnesses with just a little scrutiny reveals that they were not more reliable than the witnesses who claimed Brown did not charge, nor did the evidence support their claims more. However, the prosecutors did not challenge these witnesses to the degree they did others, creating a perception that they were more credible; and when they could, the prosecutors ignored evidence that contradicted the claims these witnesses made.

Witness 40

Witness 40 testified in front of the grand jury on two occasions. She verified that Brown charged several times; for example, she said, “I looked back at the heavier set one, and he had, by this time bent down in the football position and had his fist made and began to charge at the officer” (Grand Jury, Vol. XV, 124).

As damning as this testimony is, other information about Witness 40 should have raised some concerns: grand jury documents showed that she was disgustingly racist and was lying about being at the scene. She repeatedly wrote racist remarks in her journal and on social media, using “the N word half a dozen times” (Grand Jury, Vol. XV, 171) and including statements like “they need to kill them fucking n****rs. It is like an ape fest” (Grand Jury, Vol. XV, 177). The FBI determined that she was lying about being at the scene and about witnessing the confrontation between Brown and Wilson. They decided they could not use her as a witness. Yet, the prosecutors decided that she should still testify in front of the grand jury.

Witnesses 26 and 48

Witnesses 26, 30, 48 and 64 are a family who claimed to have witnessed the confrontation between Brown and Wilson from their minivan on their way to visit someone in the Canfield Green Apartments. They all saw the incident together, but they have very different accounts of whether Brown was charging. According to the descriptions they gave, they were positioned far away from the scene and Wilson’s SUV was between them and the final shooting; no other witnesses recall seeing the minivan.

Witnesses 26 and 48 both testified that Brown was charging, with Witness 26 saying, “Michael turned around and then he started running, he kind of shuffled back and forth a little bit like he was confused or something. And then he started running back toward us … I couldn’t be sure if he was trying to charge the officer or run past him” (Grand Jury, Vol. XI, 179-180). Witness 48 also said, “His hands were balled up. He has his arms bent toward his chest and he’s running like, you know, almost like a tackle running” (Grand Jury, Vol. XVIII, 28). She said that after the first three shots “he was still charging at him,” but after the fourth shot “it looked like he was staggering” (Grand Jury, Vol. XVIII, 91).

The other two witnesses in the minivan disagreed that Brown was charging. Witness 30 told police, “He walked back toward the officer… he got… to within maybe six or ten feet from the officer and, … the cop shot him… He appeared to be walking” (Witness 30, interview with police, 5). Witness 64 told the FBI, “We had different stories … I said that it looked like he was stumbling, someone else said it looked like he was charging” (Witness 64, interview with FBI, 29).

The minivan was allegedly parked on Canfield Drive at the time of the incident, placing the witnesses 450 feet away from the spot where Brown’s body lay, and Wilson’s SUV was parked diagonally across the street between them and the place where Brown was killed.


Photo: Google Maps

The photos below show an approximate view of the location where Mike brown died from the minivan:


This image shows an approximate view from where the minivan was supposedly located at the time Mike Brown was killed. Photo: Google Maps



This image is slightly closer than the supposed location of the minivan to help show an approximate view from the location without the trees obstructing the view. Photo: Google Maps

Finally, several witnesses who were near the alleged location of the minivan were asked what cars were around and not a single witness recalled seeing a minivan in the area. For example, Witness 37 who was in his car in the street on Canfield Drive, facing the SUV, said there was a white pickup truck behind him, but no other vehicles (Grand Jury, Vol. XIV, 42); Witness 13 remembered several cars in the street (Grand Jury, Vol. VII, 172), but when asked specifically about the minivan replied, “no, I didn’t notice it” (Grand Jury, Vol. VII, 189). The minivan witnesses testified that after Brown was shot they pulled into the parking lot next to where they had saw the incident, but when Witness 54 was asked, “Did you see a minivan pull into that parking lot right directly in front of where you had been sitting and someone get out of that minivan?” they replied, “I remember seeing the white car” (Grand Jury, Vol. XIX, 257).

Witness 10

According to the media, Witness 10 was the most reliable and important witness that more or less supported Darren Wilson’s account. According to a Washington Post headline, “Witness 10 proves Darren Wilson had a reasonable belief he needed to shoot Michael Brown.” However, Witness 10 did not corroborate the part of Wilson’s story that says Brown was punching him or grabbing his gun. Instead he said, “It appeared as though they were wrestling through the window” (Grand Jury, Vol. VI, 218) and he assumed there was a confrontation because there was a gunshot (Grand Jury, Vol. VI, 230).

Regardless, several factors about Witness 10 call the strength of his testimony into question once scrutinized. His testimony was inconsistent and vague, he was far away from where Brown was shot and had an obstructed view, and although the prosecutors didn’t appear to seek out the truth, it’s questionable if Witness 10 was even at the scene on August 9th.

Despite claims to the contrary, Witness 10 changed his testimony regarding several points. For example, he told the police that he was 100 yards (300 feet) away from the SUV (Grand Jury, Vol. VI, 227), but he told the grand jury that he was 50 to 75 yards (150-225 feet) away (Grand Jury, Vol. VI, 197).

More suspicious was Witness 10’s overall persistence in sticking with a particular narrative, while avoiding why he supported it. For example, when asked by police where Brown’s hands were when he turned around, Witness 10 replied, “Um, I know for sure they weren’t above his head” (Grand Jury, Vol. VII, 61). And when asked to enact a body gesture that he said Brown did, he replied, “I can’t say for sure what sort of body gesture, I cannot recall fully. All I know is it was not a surrendering motion of I’m surrendering, putting my hands up or anything, I’m not sure” (Grand Jury, Vol. VI, 180).

Additionally, Witness 10 was far away from the spot Brown was shot and he had an obstructed view. He supposedly saw the confrontation between Wilson and Brown from the front yard of a house he was working at, down the street towards West Florissant. That house is about 600 feet from where Brown was shot, and Wilson’s SUV and other cars in the street were between Witness 10 and Brown.

Witness 10

The circle indicates the location of the house where Witness 10 viewed the incident from, (approximately) over 600 feet from where Brown was shot. Photo: Google Maps

The below photos show the view from the street in front of the house:

Witness10 2

Witness 10 worked at the house on the right and claimed to have witnessed the confrontation between Brown and Wilson from the driveway, through the trees. The circle marks the spot where Witness 10 supposedly watched the confrontation between Darren Wilson and Michael Brown. Photo: Google Maps


Witness10 3

This picture depicts the view closer to where Brown was shot to help show Witness 10’s potential point of view. Photo: Google Maps


Finally, it’s questionable if Witness 10 was even there on August 9th. He said that after Brown was killed, “[I] went into the (redacted) I was working at, and told the (redacted) what I had just witnessed and stayed in for maybe (redacted) minutes speaking with (redacted) and I came back out and that’s when I seen they were taping off the scene” (Grand Jury, Vol. VI, 186).

However, when questioned, a detective admitted that neither the homeowner nor the resident could remember the exact dates the witness was working there. The person residing in the house said “that she remembered talking to him briefly, didn’t remember what they had talked about and that she ultimately left for work” (Grand Jury, Vol. XXIV, 37-38). I would think if someone told you they just saw the police kill someone on your street that would be something you would recall.

None of this means that we know the witnesses were lying (except perhaps Witness 40) or that Brown did not charge Wilson in those final seconds. What an evaluation of these witnesses shows is that these witnesses were no more reliable than other witnesses whose testimonies did not support Wilson’s story of Brown charging at him. There is no reason to trust them more or less than other witnesses. A substantially higher number of witnesses said that Brown did not charge, and of the twenty-two of them, there were certainly more who were consistent in what they said, supported by evidence, and located closer than the witnesses who supported Wilson’s account. The difference is that the opposing witnesses were treated differently by the prosecutors, the media, and the public who wanted to believe that they were liars.

Evidence about charging

According to McCulloch, Wilson’s story and the statements of witnesses who supported his claims were also consistent with the evidence. However, the evidence does not support the main tenants of Wilson’s arguments, including his most important accusation that Brown charged him in the final seconds of the incident. We may never know if Brown charged at Wilson in those last seconds, but to claim the evidence supports Wilson’s story is absolutely false.

There are several pieces of evidence that could help determine whether or not Brown charged Wilson—Brown’s fatal injuries, blood stains, and an audio recording of the gunshots. Brown’s injuries prove that Brown did not move any further after the final gunshot—where his body lay is where he was when the final bullet hit him; blood stains in the street are the only physical evidence that could determine the furthest location Brown ran to; and the audio recording of Wilson’s gunshots provide a time frame for the distance Brown traveled. With these three pieces of evidence, we can calculate the speed Brown was moving when Wilson shot and killed him.

Injuries killing Brown

Based on the evidence, we know that Brown collapsed the instant he was shot in the head. All three doctors that examined Brown’s body testified that Brown’s injuries would have caused him to instantly collapse when he was shot in the top of the head. (Grand Jury, Vol. XX, 23-24; Vol. XX, 128; Vol. XXIII, 46). Wilson seemed to confirm this when he said, “I remember looking at my sites and firing, all I see is his head and that’s what I shot … I saw the last one go into him. And then when it went into him, the demeanor on his face went blank, the aggression was gone … I knew he stopped, the threat stopped” (Grand Jury, Vol. V, 229).

This evidence confirms that Brown’s movement stopped at Wilson’s last shot and when considered with the starting point provided by the blood stains in the street and the audio recording of the gunshots, Brown’s injuries help establish the time and distance Brown moved toward Wilson.

Brown’s blood

Brown’s blood at various spots around the crime scene provided the physical evidence for the distance Brown traveled. According to the DNA technical leader with the St. Louis County Police Department Crime Lab, Brown’s blood was on the SUV (Grand Jury, Vol. XIX, 174-175), telling us that he was shot and bleeding before he ran from the car. There was also a significant amount of blood on the top of his socks (so we know blood was dripping from above), there were two small blood stains on the street about twenty-one and a half feet away from his body, and there was a pool of blood from Brown’s head where he died (Grand Jury, Vol. XIX, 174-175).

Brown’s blood droppings contradict the claim that Brown turned around close to 50 feet from where he died, since blood was dripping from Brown’s hand and arm from the time he ran from the SUV, but there was no evidence of this beyond the cluster of blood drops (evidence marked 20) that was twenty-one and half feet from his body (Vol. XXIV, 87-88). While he was running he could have kept his arm against his body so the blood could have been absorbed by his clothes, but once he stopped and turned around he either put his hands up to surrender as many witnesses claimed, or down to his waistband as Wilson claimed.

Whatever Brown did when he stopped and turned around, it is difficult to believe that he did not drip any blood in that spot, but left a spot of several drops of blood at one random spot along the route of his charge toward Wilson. Instead, the evidence suggests that Brown turned around at the point where there was a bloodstain on the street, twenty-one and a half feet from his body. Number 20 marks the bloodstain that is the furthest point of physical evidence that indicates where Brown ran to; it is 21.5 feet from where he died.


Evidence Markers

This picture also shows marker 19, which indicates a line of several drops of blood and, in the background, shows a large bloodstain that marks where Brown died.


Evidence Markers 2

Marker 20 shows a cluster of several drops of blood 21.5 feet away from Brown’s body.


Evidence Markers 3

Marker 19 shows a trail of blood drops.

In the pictures, it appears that the larger stains are several drops of blood in the same spot meaning Brown was standing in this spot and not just running past it. Comparatively, the bloodstains marked 19 are a trail, meaning that Brown was in motion. No one testified if the stains in marker 19 suggest which direction he was heading at the time these blood drops hit the pavement, but they are significant when compared to the marker 20 cluster because they indicate motion.

Despite evidence that contradicted this, almost everyone, including prosecutors and media outlets, used a point at around 50 feet beyond where Brown’s body laid as a marker for where he turned around. A St. Louis police detective confirmed, “the exact location where Michael Brown turned around is just based on various witness accounts” (Grand Jury, Vol. XXIV, 51).

It was so obvious that the 50-foot marker wasn’t supported by any evidence that a juror (not a prosecutor) highlighted the use of disputed eyewitness testimony, not supported by evidence to determine Brown’s distance in this exchange:

Juror: “So as far as physical evidence, we have the blood on the ground that was about 21 or 22 feet from where Michael Brown ended up. So we know for a fact that’s a minimum distance he might have advanced and from eye witness testimony that placed him at the corner of Coppercreek, that dimension looks like it is closer to 48 to 50 feet; is that correct? … if I did the calculation right that was 21 and a half feet?”
Detective: “Yes, sir.”
Juror: “Physical evidence.”
(Grand Jury, Vol. XXIV, 87-88).

When asked, how far he thought Brown charged at him, Wilson said “at least fifteen feet,” which is much less than fifty, but pretty close to twenty-one and a half (Wilson’s interview with St. Louis County Police Department, 13).

Audio recording of Wilson’s gunshots

The third piece of evidence is an audio recording of Wilson’s final ten shots. We know from a verified sound recording of the shots that it was a total of 6.57 seconds from the point Wilson started shooting until his last shot.

Wilson testified repeatedly that Brown ran through the shots. For example, he said that Brown “looked like he was almost bulking up to run through the shots, like it was making him mad that I’m shooting at him” (Grand Jury, Vol. V, 228) and the shots “had no effect” and Brown just “continued towards him” (Grand Jury, Vol. V, 110) and “he hadn’t slowed down” (Grand Jury, Vol. V, 228). He told the St. Louis Police that, “After the first round of shots … he still hadn’t gone down and was still coming just as fast as he was” (interview with St. Louis County Police Department, 13).

Wilson said that after he fired multiple shots, he “paused for a second, yelled at him to get on the ground again,” but Brown was still charging, his hand was still in his waistband, and he hadn’t slowed down. Here Wilson says he fired another round of multiple shots and again, “same thing, still running at me, hadn’t slowed down, hands still in his waistband.” Then Brown got about eight feet from Wilson, still coming the same way, and Wilson fired more shots. One of those final shots, Wilson says, hit Brown in the head and “he went down right there” (interview with St. Louis County Police Department, 10).

Now Wilson testified that once Brown moved toward him, he gave commands before shooting, saying, “His first step is coming like a stutter step to start running. When he does that, his left hand goes in a fist and goes to his side, his right one goes under his shirt in his waistband and he starts running at me. … As he is coming at me, I tell, keep telling him to get on the ground, he doesn’t. I shoot a series of shots” (Grand Jury, Vol. V, 227-229). However, even if we assume Wilson started shooting the instant Brown moved (giving Brown the least possible amount of time to cover the distance)—which is a favorable assumption for Wilson—then Brown had 6.57 seconds to cover twenty-one and a half feet. That’s a slow pace. Definitely walking. According to the evidence.

Wilson also claimed that when Brown fell, “he had so much momentum carrying him forward that when he fell, his feet kind of came up a little bit and then he rested” (Grand Jury, Vol. V, 229-230). However, one doctor that examined Brown’s body confirmed that Brown was not in motion at the time he collapsed; when asked, “Are the abrasions severe enough that you think the victim would have been in motion at the time of the fatal shot or could he have been standing at the time of the fatal shot, absorbs that amount of friction just by simply falling from a standing position?” they replied, “falling and hitting the ground … That’s how that happened in my opinion” (Grand Jury, Vol. IV, 161).

Witnesses and evidence on whether Brown’s hands were up

Despite the repeated claims in the press (even from the so-called “liberal media”) that Brown never put his hands up, and that the protest chant of the Black Lives Matter Movement, “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot,” was based on a lie, there is still no reason to believe that Brown did not put his hands up when Wilson shot him. Based on the evidence, it’s possible that Brown had his hands up and was surrendering to Wilson. While there are conflicting claims about this, there is no way to be sure that Brown was not surrendering.

It’s true—there is an absence of forensic evidence that supports the claim that Brown had his hands up; however, there is equally a lack of evidence supporting the claim that Brown never had his hands up. This just isn’t something that the evidence could determine either way. So based on the factual evidence, there’s no reason for people to believe and be adamant that Brown did not have his hands up.

The three forensic pathologists who performed autopsies on Brown repeatedly explained it was impossible to determine the arm and hand positions of Brown when he was shot. One forensic pathologist said it’s difficult to answer questions about which position Brown’s hands were in because “arms can do all sorts of things in three dimensional space” (Grand Jury, Vol. XX, 100).

Two doctors testified that based on the gunshot wound, Brown could have been shot in the forearm while he had his hands up. One said Brown could have gotten the wound if his hands were up “if the palms [faced] outward” and the shooter was at an angle or the arm was slightly rotated (Grand Jury, Vol. IV, 102). Describing the gunshot wound, another forensic pathologist said depending on how the arm was turned, “it could be arms up, could be arms way up” (Grand Jury, Vol. XXIII, 65-66). When asked, “you’re saying that this injury to this forearm could have occurred with his hands up?” they replied, “yes” (Grand Jury, Vol. XXIII, 67).

The forensic pathologists even said that one of the other controversial claims of eyewitnesses—that Wilson shot at Brown as he ran away—was possible. They said, “If you are asking me could a shot from his backside produce that [wound], I say yes” (Grand jury, Vol. XX, 102). Another forensic pathologist who worked for New York State Police for 50 years confirmed this point, saying of the gunshot wound, “this would support being shot from behind. It didn’t hit his back, but from behind” (Grand Jury, Vol. XXIII, 67).

Additionally, eyewitness testimony overwhelming supports the claim that Brown’s hands were up. Of the witnesses who claimed to have seen the entire end of the confrontation between Brown and Wilson, twenty-three said Brown put his hands up and one said he did not (three other witnesses testified that they didn’t see his hands up, but they did not see the entire encounter from the time Brown turned around through when he was killed). When the witness most favorable to Wilson was asked where Brown’s hands were when he turned around, Witness 10 replied vaguely, “I know for sure they weren’t above his head” (Grand Jury, Vol. VII, 61).

Witnesses described where Brown’s hands were in a variety of ways. Most witnesses did not describe Brown as having his arms straight up above his head; rather most seemed to say they were out to the side and around shoulder height. For example, Witness 18 said Brown’s arms were slightly bent at the elbows by his sides, palms facing forward, and fingers pointing to the ground (Grand Jury, Vol. X, 34-35). Others said Brown’s hands were around shoulder length, for example: Brown, “had his hands shoulder high, just a little bit above his shoulders, but they were away from his body” (Witness 14, Grand Jury, Vol. VIII, 36), and “arms about shoulder length” (Witness 44, Vol. XVII, 25). Witness 25 indicated Brown’s arms were somewhat parallel to the floor, palms out, fingers up, and hands about level with his head (Grand Jury, Vol. XI, 150).

Of the four witnesses in a minivan, two were considered favorable to Wilson because they said Brown charged him. Referring to Brown’s hands, one of them, Witness 26, said, “he threw his hands up, then he put his hands down, … then he started running” (Grand Jury, Vol. XI, 179). Witness 48 testified, “his hands were open at first … he [lifted them to] like shoulder length … and then he balled his hands up and … started charging” (Grand Jury, Vol. XVIII, 86).

The most surprising witness to say Brown put his hands up was none other than Darren Wilson himself!

The sergeant who was on duty at the crime scene testified twice that Wilson had told him that Brown put his hands up:

Prosecutor: “Is it still, you still stay with the fact that Michael Brown had his hands up and was charging?”
Sergeant: “That’s what Darren told me, he was charging at me.”
(Grand Jury, Vol. V, 64).

Prosecutor: “I believe you said in that statement that Officer Wilson told you that Michael Brown took off running and he stopped and raised his arms and charged him?”
Sergeant: “Yes, ma’am … it was like he was going to charge him.”
(Grand Jury, Vol. V, 72).

When Wilson was interviewed by the detective assigned to his case, he changed his story and said Brown stopped, turned around, and took his right hand and moved it to his waistband. He said Brown then screamed something he couldn’t understand and began to charge him (Grand Jury, Vol. V, 109). In front of the grand jury, when asked under oath, “At any point did Michael Brown raise his hands?” Wilson responded, “No.”

While it’s easy for many Americans to believe the narrative they are told by the justice system and the media, it’s clear that an honest evaluation of witnesses and evidence do not support the claims that Brown was a threat to Wilson when Wilson shot him in the head. Wilson supported this claim by saying that Brown charged at him. He said he thought in the moment, “I know if he reaches me, he’ll kill me” (Grand Jury, Vol. V, 230). But there is clearly not enough evidence to support his story. And without such evidence, Wilson should have been put on trial.


Part 2: Evidence and witnesses did not prove Mike Brown grabbed Darren Wilson’s gun

This post is part of a series, “Challenging Accepted Narratives on Mike Brown and Notions of Justice,” which reexamines and challenges the publicly accepted narrative surrounding Mike Brown’s death. The series illustrates that what most people accepted as the truth, was simply not so. You can read the introduction to the series here.

Darren Wilson asserted again and again that Mike Brown attempted to grab his gun. Even though Wilson killed Brown by shooting him in the head 153 feet away from his SUV (so whether he grabbed Wilson’s gun didn’t warrant killing him), the claim largely convinced the public that Wilson’s actions were justified, and that Mike Brown deserved to die.

Lies and Truths

Not long after Brown was killed, the mainstream media falsely claimed that evidence proved Brown grabbed Wilson’s gun in his SUV. It was delivered with a few half-truths that said witnesses who were black corroborated Wilson’s account. That was all it took for America’s mostly white public to forever believe that Wilson’s story was proven to be true.

The St. Louis Post Dispatch reported that Dr. Judy Melinek, a forensic pathologist in San Francisco, said an autopsy performed on Brown “supports the fact that this guy is reaching for the gun, if he has gunpowder particulate material in the wound” and “if he has his hand near the gun when it goes off, he’s going for the officer’s gun.” The Washington Post and many other news outlets reproduced this lie and broadly claimed that “evidence supported Wilson’s account,” until it became widely accepted by the public.

Dr. Melinek spoke out about how she was being misquoted and misrepresented, and how the media was reporting that she claimed the autopsy showed things that no one could possibly determine from an autopsy report; however, her rebuttals went largely unreported.

She clarified the misinformation on her personal blog in a post titled “Forensic Sound Bites and Half-Truths.” She wrote, “there’s a big difference between ‘the hand wound has gunpowder particles on microscopic examination, which suggests that it is a close-range wound. That means that Mr. Brown’s hand would have been close to the barrel of the gun’ and ‘he’s going for the gun.’”

During the grand jury proceedings, the three forensic pathologists that testified about Brown’s autopsy said they couldn’t determine from the autopsy and gunshot wound if Brown grabbed the gun or had ever reached for the gun. One said, they cannot tell from the evidence whether Brown was going for the gun or had his hands up to block or whatever else (Grand Jury, Vol. XX, 40). Another said, they can’t say if he was trying to grab the gun or not; “there is nothing based on the images and histology for me to be able to say how the hand was and what he was intending to do, I have no idea” (Grand Jury, Vol. XX, 148). And the third agreed that they couldn’t tell from the autopsy whether Brown’s hand was going forward, pulling back, or remaining still. They could only say that when the gun fired, his hand was roughly four to six inches away (Grand Jury, Vol. XXIII, 41).

The Washington Post later made the vague assertion that seven or eight black witnesses gave testimony that supported Wilson’s account. This was parroted on popular conservative blogs until the public largely accepted it. The truth, however, is that not one witness stated that Brown grabbed Wilson’s gun and there was no physical evidence to support the claim either.


There were not many witnesses close enough to Wilson’s SUV to see if there was a struggle inside over the gun as Wilson claimed. There were only a few witnesses that testified at the grand jury who were considerable favorable to Wilson. They corroborated his claim that Brown charged him. But even these three witnesses (Witnesses 10, 26, and 48) did not confirm that Brown grabbed Wilson’s gun. The only witness who said Brown grabbed the gun was witness 40, who the FBI determined was lying about being at the scene.

Three other witnesses who were close to the SUV testified that they did not see Brown grab the gun, including Dorian Johnson who was next to the SUV and said, “I never at no point in time Big Mike’s hand touch the gun or anything like that.” Another witness who was close to the SUV said, “I don’t think there was a struggle for the gun that I could tell” (Grand jury, Vol. XV, 64).


Fingerprints, DNA, Wilson’s gun, and Mike Brown’s autopsy were all used as evidence in determining whether or not Brown grabbed Wilson’s gun. While such evidence could have shown that Brown did indeed grab Wilson’s gun, it did not do so. There was also significant evidence that disproved Wilson’s version of the story.

Fingerprints and DNA

There was not any fingerprint evidence that Brown grabbed Wilson’s gun. Originally, Wilson told his sergeant, “The individual was trying to grab at his pistol, his pistol came out of the holster” (Grand Jury, Vol. V, 31-34), but Brown’s prints were not on Wilson’s duty belt (Grand Jury, Vol. XXIV, 83). Later that day, when interviewed by a St. Louis Police Department detective, Wilson said Brown grabbed the gun after he pointed it at him; however, Wilson’s gun was not checked for fingerprints (Grand Jury, Vol. III, 39-40). A crime scene detective testified that they had to choose between getting “a DNA profile or the possibility of retrieving latent fingerprint evidence” and they chose to get DNA (Grand Jury, Vol. III, 42). However, the DNA analyst that worked on the case sad that they only need a “tiny speck of blood” to get a DNA profile (Grand Jury, Vol. XIX, 148), so it doesn’t make sense that detectives would not have fingerprinted the gun to prove Brown grabbed it.

The DNA evidence retrieved from the gun did not prove that Brown grabbed the gun. Wilson shot Brown in the hand at the SUV (Grand Jury, Vol. IV, 196-197) and Brown’s blood was found on the inside of the door, on the outside of the SUV, on Wilson’s pants, and on Wilson’s gun – so Brown’s DNA would be on the gun because of his blood anyway (Grand Jury, Vol. XIX, 136).

There was a reddish brown stain on Wilson’s gun that was assumed to be blood. The DNA swab from Wilson’s gun tested positive for blood. The swab gave analysts a DNA profile where Brown and Wilson are both major contributors (Grand Jury, Vol. XIX, 180-181); however, analysts testified that there is no way to tell if the DNA on the gun is from Brown touching the gun or from some other fluid such as his blood, sweat, or saliva (Grand Jury, Vol. XIX, 180, 184).

Since Brown’s blood was on the gun from his being shot, his DNA was also inevitably on the gun; thus, there is no evidence that Brown left DNA by grabbing the gun.

Gun misfiring and firing

Wilson claims that Brown attacked him in his Chevy Tahoe SUV. He said Brown “started swinging and punching at [him] from outside the vehicle.” He said, “when [Brown] shut the door a second time … [Brown] enter [the] vehicle with his hands, arms, and his head … assaulting [Wilson]” (Wilson’s interview with St. Louis County Police Department, 5). Brown was swinging wildly, and began striking Wilson in the chin, face, shoulders, and chest (Grand Jury, Vol. V, 103).

One of the full swings even knocked Wilson back and stunned him (Wilson’s interview with St. Louis County Police Department, 6 and Grand Jury, Vol. V, 103-104). Wilson describes fearfully grabbing Brown’s arm like “a five year old holding on to Hulk Hogan” (Grand Jury, Vol. V, 212) and recounts that Brown was “obviously bigger … and stronger” (Grand Jury, Vol. V, 216). He told a grand jury that he had to draw his weapon because Brown had already hit him twice in the face and a third punch could knock him out or be “fatal if he hit me right” (Grand Jury, Vol. V, 216).

Wilson claimed that his gun didn’t fire several times during his confrontation with Brown at the SUV. He testified that Brown had pushed the gun down into his hip, but he managed to raise it, and with Brown’s hands still on the gun, he pulled the trigger twice, but it didn’t fire (Grand Jury, Vol. V 224). Wilson said the gun fired on the third try, shattering a SUV window and prompting Brown to back up.

According to Wilson, Brown then reengaged, attacking Wilson again. He said that while being hit by Brown and shielding his face, Wilson tried to pull the trigger again and it just clicked, so he put his hands up to shield his face and Brown hit him again. He said, “Without even looking, I just grab the top of my gun, the slide and I racked it, and I put my, still not looking, just holding my hand up, I pull the trigger again, it goes off” a second time (Grand Jury, Vol. V, 225). He said this shot missed, but it caused Brown to take off running.

Moments after Wilson fired his weapon in the SUV, he shot ten rounds at Mike Brown outside. Later, when tested by a firearms expert in the course of the investigation, Wilson’s gun fired normally and had “no defects at all” (Grand Jury, Vol. X, 91-92), which means that some sort of interference would have caused it to allegedly not fire in the SUV.

Wilson provided two conflicting reasons that the gun did not go off. First, Wilson told the St. Louis Police, “I believe his fingers were over in between from the hammer and the slide preventing it from firing” (Wilson’s interview with St. Louis County Police Department, 8). Second, in an interview with an FBI agent, he said the reason may have been stovepiping—when the shell casing is not fully ejected and gets pinched in the slide, preventing the new round from reaching the chamber and firing (Grand Jury, Vol. V, 162). This is why Wilson claimed he had to rack his gun—to clear the stuck round.

A detective testified that if there is stovepiping, the malfunction drill is “you have to remove the magazine, lock the slide to the rear, which would remove the stovepipe round and the round that was somewhat forced into the chamber, or the barrel of the gun. You would have to reinsert the magazine and then put the slide forward and that would chamber another round” (Grand Jury, Vol. V, 126-127).

The firearms and tool mark examiner who worked on the case said there was no evidence of stovepiping. They also said it could have happened and they might not be able to tell, but there is no proof (Grand Jury, Vol. X, 110, 112-113).

Additionally, Wilson’s gun was a Sig Sauer .40 caliber pistol. Shell casings eject to the right side of the pistol, and even though Wilson said he racked the gun using both hands (Wilson’s interview with St. Louis County Police Department, 9) to clear a casing, no casing was found inside his car. They were found across the street almost straight out of the window, and towards the back end of the SUV (what would be the left side of the gun if it was pointing out the window).

Evidence map

Diagram of evidence found near Wilson’s SUV. Shell casing were found toward the back of the SUV and straight out the window, across the street.

Picture someone holding a pistol in their right hand while sitting in the driver’s seat of an SUV and while being attacked. Logically, if Wilson had to shield himself while racking the gun he would turn or lean into the SUV to help escape from the blows; but for the sake of argument, let’s say his body is twisted, so his torso is facing out the window. The right side of the gun would still be pointed toward the front of the vehicle and most likely inside.

Admittedly, shell casings are very limited in what they prove about the position of a weapon when fired, but it’s difficult to believe that a casing ejected from the chamber on the right side of the weapon flew straight forward across the street or to the left side of the weapon. It seems unlikely that Wilson racked his weapon to clear a round—at the least, the evidence does not support the claim.

Similarly, there was no evidence that Wilson’s gun didn’t fire because Brown was holding it. The medical legal investigator said Brown had abrasions on the back of his left hand and the right side of his face (Grand Jury, Vol. I, 50), but no other marks on his hand otherwise (Grand Jury, Vol. I, 68). They also said the abrasions on the left hand and forehead looked like the came from contact with the ground because “it looked more like a road rash abrasion as opposed to an altercation abrasion” (Grand Jury, Vol. I, 75).

Of course, it’s possible that a person could hold the slide or hammer of a gun and prevent it from firing without injury, but it’s unlikely. According to Wilson, Brown’s hand prevented his gun from firing, yet he had no abrasion, burn, or even a mark on his hand.

Brown was shot in the hand

Wilson fired two rounds in the SUV but only hit Brown once. He says he saw blood after the first shot and missed with the second shot (Wilson’s interview with St. Louis County Police Department, 8-9). He said, “The first thing I remember is seeing glass flying and blood all over my right hand on the back side of my hand” (Wilson’s interview with St. Louis Interview, 8). And when he shot the second time, “I turned and looked, I realized I had missed. I saw, like dust in the background” (Wilson’s interview with St. Louis Interview, 8).

Wilson also claims that Brown had his hands on the gun when Wilson fired the first round (Grand Jury, Vol. V, 224). Not only is it impossible for Wilson to shoot Brown’s hand if his hand was on the top of the gun, but experts testified that Brown wasn’t holding the gun when it was fired. Three experts that performed autopsies confirmed that there was soot around Brown’s gunshot wound, which shows his hand was at close range – between six and twelve inches from the weapon (Grand Jury, Vol. XX, 20; Vol. XXIII, 38; Vol. XX, 139-140).

When asked if there would still be soot around the wound if Brown’s hand was on top of the weapon, a forensic pathologist replied, “The wound is going to look different. Now we are dealing with a contact wound. If you are talking about actually physically holding something, that’s something extra and different” (Grand Jury, Vol. IV, 118). To clarify, if Brown’s hand was on top of the gun when it fired, he would not have been shot in the hand, and if his hand was on the barrel of the gun, the gunshot wound would have looked drastically different. Therefore, the evidence does not support Wilson’s story that Brown grabbed his gun.

Wilson has maintained that Brown grabbed his gun after he pulled it out of the holster and pointed it at him. It seems common when police kill someone to hear them say the suspect looked like they were going for a gun or they were trying to take their weapon. Since there is no video of Brown’s confrontation with Wilson to disprove the claim, people are going to believe what they want. Some will believe Brown grabbed the gun, others won’t; but the fact remains: there is no evidence that Brown grabbed Wilson’s gun.



Grand Jury Testimony
Wilson’s Interview with the St. Louis County Police Department

Part 1: Did Unarmed Black Teenager Mike Brown Attack Darren Wilson?

This post is part of a series, “Challenging Accepted Narratives on Mike Brown and Notions of Justice,” which reexamines and challenges the publicly accepted narrative surrounding Mike Brown’s death. The series illustrates that what most people accepted as the truth, was simply not so. You can read the introduction to the series here.

The Attacks

According to Darren Wilson, when he saw two teenagers, Dorian Johnson and Mike Brown, walking in the middle of the street in Ferguson, he stopped and respectfully asked, “why don’t you guys walk on the sidewalk?” Johnson replied, “we’re almost at our destination.” As Brown continued walking and passed the rearview mirror of Wilson’s Chevy Tahoe, Wilson said, “what’s wrong with the sidewalk?” Brown supposedly replied, “fuck what you have to say.”

While Wilson had multiple versions of his story, in one he claims that this moment was when he realized Brown was carrying Cigarillos that were reported stolen from a nearby convenience store moments earlier; so Wilson backed up his SUV to confront the teens.

Wilson described the encounter: “I go to open my door and say ‘hey, come here for a minute’ to Brown. As I’m opening the door he turns faces me, looks at me and says ‘what the fuck are you gonna do about it’ and shut my door, slammed it shut” (Grand Jury, Vol. V, 208-209). Forced to respond, Wilson told Brown to “get the fuck back” and used his door to push him, but Brown used his bodyweight to again close the door on Wilson. This began the pummeling, where a demon-like thug named Mike Brown, without provocation, began to pound on Wilson’s face, forcing him to shoot and kill the unarmed teen: at least that’s what you believe.

Let’s be honest – you likely believe Wilson’s story for a variety of reasons: Possibly you’re unaware of the deep-rooted impacts of white supremacy and racism in America. Maybe you haven’t thought through the systematic oppression both perpetrated by the police and resulting from mass incarceration—you probably haven’t needed to. Perhaps, despite the overwhelming amount of video evidence to come out in other cases (Eric Garner, Walter Scott, Samuel DuBose) you still refuse to believe that police officers have murdered innocent citizens because they wouldn’t tolerate young black Americans standing up for their rights or challenging authority. Even though a lack of video evidence, and perhaps concern, allows you to maintain your assumptions about Mike Brown, there are no pieces of evidence or eyewitness accounts that prove Brown attacked Wilson unprovoked. Furthermore, there is plenty of evidence that shows Wilson lied and grossly exaggerated Brown’s confrontation with him in order to justify murdering him.

Wilson’s fictitious rewriting of the encounter is intense. Wilson tells a story where a monstrous Brown beats him repeatedly, but he heroically manages to overpower the goliath, saving his own life. He recounts Brown had immediately “started swinging and punching at [him] from outside the vehicle.” He said, “when [Brown] shut the door a second time … [Brown] enter [the] vehicle with his hands, arms, and his head … assaulting [Wilson]” (Wilson’s interview with St. Louis County Police Department, 5). Brown was swinging wildly, and began striking Wilson in the chin, face, shoulders, and chest (Grand Jury, Vol. V, 103). Throughout the struggle Wilson had his hands up to protect himself, deflecting some blows, but still getting hit in the face (Grand Jury, Vol. V, 210). According to Wilson, Brown made contact with his face over ten times and at least two times on both sides of his face with solid blows (Wilson’s interview with St. Louis County Police Department, 11).

One of the full swings even knocked Wilson back and stunned him (Wilson’s interview with St. Louis County Police Department, 6 and Grand Jury, Vol. V, 103-104). Wilson describes fearfully grabbing Brown’s arm like “a five year old holding on to Hulk Hogan” (Grand Jury Vol. V, 212) and recounts that Brown was “obviously bigger … and stronger” (Grand Jury, Vol. V, 216). He told a grand jury that he had to draw his weapon because Brown had already hit him twice in the face and he said a third punch could knock him out or be “fatal if he hit me right” (Grand Jury, Vol. V, 216). They struggled over the weapon until Wilson could finally get a shot off; even after Brown was shot, Brown stepped back and Wilson says, “he looked up at [him] and had the most intense aggressive face.” The only way to describe Brown, he said is, “it [looked] like a demon, that’s how angry he looked.”(Grand Jury, Vol. V, 224-225). And Brown reengaged, swinging wildly (Wilson’s interview with St. Louis County Police Department, 9). Wilson shot a second time and Brown fled.

Despite Wilson’s accusations of wild, aggressive, and life-threatening attacks from Brown, eyewitness accounts, the evidence collected, and expert testimony don’t support his claims.


Of the twenty grand jury witnesses who claimed to have seen the confrontation at the SUV, only two witnesses said that Brown hit Wilson. One was Witness 40, whose overtly disgusting racism was highlighted by statements like, “they need to kill them fucking n****rs. It is like an ape fest” (Grand Jury, Vol. XV, 177). She was also an advocate for Darren Wilson. And the FBI determined she was lying about being at the scene (Grand Jury, Vol. XV, 174-175) (Criticisms of witnesses who were favorable to Wilson will be discussed further in this series). The second witness was Witness 34, who was just leaving from the Canfield Green Apartments complex. He said he saw Brown hit Wilson, but also described the scene as a struggle between Wilson and Brown. He said, “the police and the young man, they were struggling. The young man was standing outside the window and the police inside the window. And he had a hold of the young man, and the young man had a hold of him, and they are struggling with one another” (Grand Jury, Vol. XIII, 15). “He had ahold of Mike real close through the window and the officer, both of them struggle to hit one another” (Grand Jury, Vol. XIII, 23).

Even witnesses who were the most supportive of Wilson throughout the grand jury proceedings did not confirm Brown was hitting him. Witness 48, a woman who was in a minivan with her parents and sister, said, “I don’t really know what [Brown] was doing. I know he had his back to me… His hands were in front of him” (Grand Jury, Vol. XVIII, 22). “I don’t know if his hands were in the vehicle” (Grand Jury, Vol. XVIII, 24). Her mother, Witness 26 said Brown was standing at the driver’s side window with his arms extended in front of him, maybe touching the car (Grand Jury, Vol. XI, 5). “He looked like pretty much he had his hands directly pretty much in front of him standing at the car looking like he was just talking” (Grand Jury, Vol. XI, 173). She said after the shots “he backed away from the car and he… was like standing there for a minute and then he took off running” (Grand Jury, Vol. XI, 176).

Most witnesses who saw the confrontation at the SUV said there appeared to be some kind of struggle going on like “wrestling,” “tug of war,” or “tussling,” but couldn’t see exactly what was happening. For example, Witness 44, a woman who was walking back to her apartment from the library said, “It looked like some struggle cause he was like bobbing in and out like they were doing something … I couldn’t exactly see what was going on … but his actions looked like some type of fight” (Grand Jury, Vol. XVII, 18). Five witnesses explained that they couldn’t really see what was going on because they were partially blocked by the SUV, but they could tell there was some kind of struggle happening; three of them were quite far and looking from behind Brown.

Of the eleven remaining witnesses who claimed to see the confrontation at the SUV from a good angle, eight of them testified that Brown appeared to be trying to pull away from Wilson. For example, Witness 45—who said the first physical thing to happen when Wilson backed up the car was him grabbing Mike Brown (Grand Jury, Vol. XVII, 97-98)—said Wilson “went to go and grab him, that’s when they started tussling … he grabbed him from the outside, just grabbed him” (Grand Jury, Vol. XVII, 92). She said it was as if Brown was “trying to get away” (Grand Jury, Vol. XVII, 99). Witness 43 said, “I saw the man like trying to pull away from the police, pull his arm out of the police car”(Grand Jury, Vol. XVI, 112); Witness 16 said, “It looked like he was trying to yank away” (Witness 16’s interview with FBI, 21), and Witness 37 said, “Mr. Brown struggling to get away from the officer … the officer was holding onto Mr. Brown, pulling him towards him as Mr. Brown forcing to get back away from him.” (Grand Jury, Vol. XIV, 13).

Dorian Johnson and Witness 57 both said Brown’s hands were against the outside of the car (Johnson, Grand Jury, Vol. IV, 51; Witness 57, Vol. XX, 177). They both said, Wilson was grabbing Brown’s shirt (Johnson, Grand Jury, Vol. IV, 49; Witness 57, Vol. XX, 181) and “Mike pushed off the car” (Witness 57, Vol. XX, 181) and was “trying to pull off the officer’s grip” (Johnson, Grand Jury, Vol. IV, 51). Johnson said one of Brown’s hands was on the top of the SUV (Johnson, Grand Jury, Vol. IV, 51). A swab from the top exterior of the front door revealed Brown’s DNA, supporting Johnson’s claim that Brown was in contact with that area at some point (Grand Jury, Vol. XIX, 178).

Again, most of the witness testimony did not clarify whether Brown was the aggressor or if he was just trying to get away, and only one credible witness claimed to see Brown hit Wilson at all.

Wilson’s injuries and clothes

More telling was Wilson’s lack of injuries and how negligible his few injuries were. Wilson complained of injuries to the left and right sides of his face and scratches to the back of his neck. Several witnesses confirmed there was redness and swelling to Wilson’s face and scratches on his neck.

A sergeant with Ferguson Police Department, after arriving at the scene saw the side of his face starting to swell up, especially around his mouth and along his left eye (Grand Jury, Vol. V, 38-39). A detective who interviewed Wilson a while later could see reddening to the left and right side of the jaw and said the right side appeared slightly swelled (Grand Jury, Vol. V, 91-92).

The physician’s assistant with North County Emergency Physician’s Group who checked Wilson at the hospital said his main complaint was the right side of the jaw and there was a little redness and several linear marks on his neck consistent with fingernail scratches (Grand Jury, Vol. XXII, 80-82). Wilson said his pain was a six out of ten, and he described it as aching (from several given choices) (Grand Jury, Vol. XXII, 73).

Even though a few people confirmed that Wilson’s face was wounded, his injuries were suspiciously insignificant considering the story he told about his fight with Brown. He claimed that Brown beat him viciously, but he only had a little redness on both of his cheeks and some small scratches.

The injuries to Wilson’s face were shockingly minor

Despite the terrifying description of a demon-like Brown swinging wildly with blows that could be fatal, where Wilson, afraid for his life, was desperately trying to deflect a barrage of attacks, his injuries were shockingly insignificant.

A detective with the St. Louis County Police Department who interviewed Wilson could see the marks on Wilson’s face, but said he never complained about a head injury (Grand Jury, Vol. V, 96). Wilson also said in his testimony that when EMS showed up, looked at him, and asked what had happened, he said he was hit in the face. They asked where and he had to point it out to them. He also told them he hadn’t lost consciousness, his vision wasn’t blurry, and he didn’t need to go to the hospital (Grand Jury, Vol. V, 247-248).

When asked, “did you notice any swelling on Darren Wilson’s face,” the physician’s assistant from the hospital replied, “Nothing significant, no” (Grand Jury, Vol. XXII, 78). Wilson complained of “very, very mild pain to the left side of the jaw,” but the physician’s assistant didn’t notice any issues to the left side of the jaw (Grand Jury, Vol. XXII, 82). Wilson didn’t have difficulty moving his jaw and had no deformities (Grand Jury, Vol. XXII, 74); no swelling on the neck and he didn’t complain of pain there (Grand Jury, Vol. XXII, 84); he didn’t complain of eye, tooth, head, or nose pain and there was no evidence of injury in those areas (Grand Jury, Vol. XXII, 87); and he was X-rayed and there were no additional injuries (Grand Jury, Vol. XXII, 85).

The physician’s assistant diagnosed him with a contusion of the mandibular (meaning a bruise or inflammation of the soft tissue on the jaw) (Grand Jury, Vol. XXII, 77) and prescribed Naprosyn 500 milligrams (Grand Jury, Vol. XXII, 71).

To clarify the injuries, the physician’s assistant described bruising: “A bruise is caused by broken blood vessels. So the harder the punch, the harder the impact, the more likely you are to have more blood vessels start to bleed, that’s what creates that purple discoloration as that blood kind of seeps out underneath the layer” (Grand Jury, Vol. XXII, 86). However, pictures taken three days later showed the redness resolved and no “purple discoloration that sometimes follows contusions,” (Grand Jury, Vol. XXII, 84) leaving the physician’s assistant to conclude, “It was likely that the impact just involved the very superficial capillary layers, as opposed to deeper tissue which would result in the deeper purple bruising” (Grand Jury, Vol. XXII, 86).

Wilson’s injuries were so insignificant, they were even hard to see in the photos taken for evidence. During his testimony in front of the grand jury, prosecutors showed Wilson pictures of his face from when he went to the hospital, both and prosecutors and Wilson had trouble seeing the injuries. (Grand Jury, Vol. V, 219-222). When they asked Wilson about the swelling, he had troubling identifying it, saying, “I think there was swelling to my face in that area too. I never saw my face after, this is the first I’ve seen” (Grand Jury, Vol. V, 221).

Here is an exchange between Wilson and prosecutors as they looked at photos of the supposed injury on his face:

Wilson, showing a picture, said “that one looks like it has bruising and swelling on it.”
P: “Where is the swelling to your face on that one?”
W: “It was my right side, that was the main injury.”
P: “Point to it for us.”
W: “Right in this area.”
P: “That’s the swelling to your face?”
(Grand Jury, Vol. V, 219-220).

Even Wilson had trouble finding his injuries in the pictures:

A prosecutor asked, “Describe what you are looking at.”
W: “I can’t really tell from that.”
P: “Okay.”
W: “I can’t really see from this angle.”
P: “Let me let you look at it again.”
W: “I think there was swelling in my face in that area too.”

P: “Does it look like swelling? You know your face better than we do …?”
W: “I can’t tell with that one with the ruler.”
P: “ … What about this one?”
W: “That one I can tell from down by my, this area looks like swelling to me”
(Grand Jury, Vol. V, 221).

Then they examined pictures of his neck meant to show scratches, which were similarly hard to see:

The prosecutor asks, “This is Number 33 and you say you can see scratches on the back of your neck?”
W: “Right in here.”

P: This is Number 54. And you can kind of point to where the red marks are on you neck?”
W: “It’s hard to see on that. It’s in this area right here.”

W: “It’s hard to tell from the pictures and that angle. I think the best one was looking straight forward at me”
(Grand Jury, Vol. V, 222).

The physician’s assistant also testified that there is a little bit of redness in the photograph, but it’s hard to see (Grand Jury, Vol. XXII, 83).


Photos taken of Wilson’s injuries after the confrontation with Mike Brown

Furthermore, it’s unbelievable that Wilson avoided any other injuries to his face, body, or arms and any damage to his clothes. Although Wilson said he was blocking Brown’s full blows with his left arm and that Brown was in the window striking his chin, face, shoulders, and chest (Grand Jury, Vol. V, 103), he had no other injuries. A detective said that he didn’t see other injures and Wilson didn’t mention others (Grand Jury, Vol. V, 91-92). Wilson also confirmed for the grand jury that he had no additional injuries to his hands (Grand Jury, Vol. V, 219).

Wilson said the right side of his jaw had the main injury. But when sitting in the driver’s seat, while shielding himself and blocking Brown with his left hand, his right side would be further away and nearly impossible for Brown to hit with his right hand. It would even be difficult to hit with the left hand. Regardless, with these repeated powerful blows from a demon-like criminal, Wilson didn’t have any injuries to his jaw, eyes, or his prominent nose. Wilson only had some redness on his cheeks that did not even bruise.

Other than having Brown’s blood on his pants, Wilson’s clothes were quite intact. After an alleged violent altercation with repeated blows to the face, scratching, grabbing, and pulling, a detective testified that there were no stains, tears, or defects in the fabric of Wilson’s shirt, his name tag badge was still fastened to his shirt, and his Velcro pocket was still closed (Grand Jury, Vol. VIII, 198-201).

While Wilson clearly had some redness on his cheeks, the injuries do not amount to his hyperbole-filled tale of barely surviving a vicious and wild beating by a demon. Instead, they seem to show, at best, a minor altercation between an officer and a citizen that could have been initiated by either party, and at worst, an officer faking injuries to justify a murder he committed in the heat of the moment.

Other pieces of evidence also make Wilson’s claims very suspicious

Fingerprints and Cigarillos

Wilson maintained through his various accounts that after backing up his SUV to engage Brown and Johnson, he attempted to exit the vehicle, but couldn’t because Brown pushed the door closed. Detectives actually lifted fingerprints from the exterior of the front driver’s side door, but did not find Brown’s prints. They found three sets of fingerprints that were sufficient to make identifications; the fingerprint examiner for St. Louis Police Department testified that one of the prints was Wilson’s and the other two did not belong to Brown (Grand Jury, Vol. XI, 126-128).

Wilson said the first blow in the altercation was from Brown’s right hand and connected with the left side of Wilson’s face (Grand Jury, Vol. V, 155). Wilson also said the Cigarillos were in Brown’s right hand. He testified that while Brown was punching him with the Cigarillos in his hand, “it stopped for a second. He kind of like, I remember getting hit and he kind of like grabbed and pulled and then it stopped.” Then, with the Cigarillos in his left hand, Brown says, “Hey man, hold these” to Johnson and passed the Cigarillos to him. The prosecutor asked Wilson “were there any broken Cigarillos or anything in your car later?” and he replied “no, I don’t remember seeing anything on the ground or anything” (Grand Jury, Vol. V, 211). There were no broken pieces of Cigarillos in the SUV, on the street, or anywhere else.

The orange emergency alert button

One of the essential claims of Wilson’s supposed heroic encounter with Brown was that, while being pummeled by repeated blows of a “demon,” Wilson still fell back on his training to make sure he was using the appropriate amount of force. He repeatedly testified that while in the midst of attacks, he thought through the triangular diagram that dictates use of force for police officers before determining that the only option was to shoot Brown. However, if Wilson truly feared for his life at any point, he could have pushed the orange emergency alert button on his radio that all officers are regularly trained to use.

Emergency orange alert buttons are on all police officers’ portable and mobile (vehicle) radios; when they push the button an alarm goes off at dispatch (Grand Jury, Vol. XXI, 96 and Vol. XVIII, 171). Officers are trained that if they are in an emergency situation, they hit that button (Grand Jury, Vol. XVIII, 167-168). The sergeant said it is “one of the first things [officers] are taught on is that alert tone because that’s their lifeline” (Grand Jury, Vol. XXI, 53-54).

When an officer hits the orange button, it doesn’t matter what channel they are on or if there is radio traffic; it will revert back to dispatch and keep transmitting until the dispatcher acknowledges it (Grand Jury, Vol. XVIII, 166-167).

The Chief of Police in Ferguson said officers test their alert buttons occasionally and he “would expect any time there is a physical confrontation that would be a useful tool.” When asked, “And if, you know, shots are fired, certainly you would expect someone to use that button,” he replied, “Yes, ma’am” (Grand Jury, Vol. XXI, 196). A dispatcher with the City of Ferguson also testified that if shots were fired or if an officer discharged his weapon, you would expect him to push the orange button if they had a chance to (Grand Jury, Vol. XXI, 165).

But Wilson didn’t push the button – despite claiming he was in fear for his life, while in his vehicle and Brown supposedly punched him in the face repeatedly, almost having his gun taken from him and when Brown charged at him. Even though he claims he strategically thought through the progression of force and was able to reach down and grab his gun, and had time when Brown ran from him, Wilson never just reached down and pushed the button that he was trained to use as his lifeline.

Brown’s lack of injuries and DNA evidence

Wilson claims Brown was attacking him viciously through the SUV window with some blows landing on Wilson’s face and others being blocked by his hands and arms. Yet, Brown didn’t have any marks or injuries on his hands or arms that suggest he was attacking Wilson. A medical legal investigator from the St. Louis County Medical Examiner’s Office who examined Brown’s body at the scene said Brown had abrasions on the back of his left hand and the right side of his face (Grand Jury, Vol. I, 50), but no other marks on his hands (Grand Jury, Vol. I, 68). They also said the abrasions on the left hand and forehead “looked more like a road rash abrasion as opposed to an altercation abrasion” (Grand Jury, Vol. I, 75).

Furthermore, after Brown supposedly punched Wilson repeatedly in the face, Wilson’s DNA was not found on the backs of Brown’s hands or knuckles (Grand Jury, Vol. XIX, 195). And even though Wilson had minor scratches on the back of his neck, Wilson’s DNA was not found under Brown’s fingernails on either hand (Grand Jury, Vol. XIX, 194-195).

Despite the headlines surrounding this case, there is little evidence that supports the parts of Wilson’s story where he disagrees with most of the eyewitnesses. From these examples, it is clear that some evidence also makes his story look quite questionable.

Wilson had time alone in his car

Wilson lied about another crucial detail—what he was doing after the shooting. The truth is, Wilson sat in his car alone while other officers examined the scene. Wilson told the FBI that after he killed Brown, he walked to his SUV, opened the door, turned the engine off, and closed the door. After that he said his sergeant pulled up, he talked to him, and then he took the sergeant’s vehicle back to the station (Grand Jury, Vol. V, 236). He said he did not get in the SUV (Grand Jury, Vol. V, 170-171). However, the sergeant on duty testified that Wilson was in his car the whole time he was at the scene, until he told Wilson to get in the sergeant’s vehicle and leave (Grand Jury, Vol. V, 29). He even testified that when he talked to Wilson, Wilson was staring at the dashboard (Grand Jury, Vol. V 38). And while Wilson didn’t specify to the grand jury whether or not he sat in the SUV, he did say the sergeant told him to go sit in the car (Grand Jury, Vol. V, 236).

If Wilson wanted to fabricate his injuries to make his story more believable, he had the time to do it. It’s suspicious that Wilson had scratches on his neck and red marks on his face, while Brown didn’t have Wilson’s DNA under his nails or on his hands. Additionally, the sergeant testified that the shirt of Wilson’s uniform was disheveled and kind of pulled out of the waistband (Grand Jury, Vol. V, 38-39). However, photographs taken from a video of Wilson pacing over Brown’s dead body reveal his shirt was still neatly tucked in after the confrontation.

Wilson Stands Over Brown

Photo of Darren Wilson standing over Mike Brown’s body

Referring to the injuries on Wilson’s face, the physician’s assistant was asked if “You could see redness to the face [if] nobody was even struck” and they replied, that their belief that Wilson’s injuries were from a punch was only based on Wilson’s own account (Grand Jury, Vol. XXII, 87-88). Then when asked, “if you rub your face too hard with your hand, you could get redness to it. … And not have a broken blood vessel to give a bruise?” the physician’s assistant replied, “Yes, right” (Grand Jury, Vol. XXII, 88). Additionally, a juror pressed, “could an arm keep rubbing on a face, could that have made the face red?” and they replied, “Yes” (Grand Jury, Vol. XXII, 95).

It’s clear that Wilson’s injuries, already minor for what would be expected from his story, could very well have been created or enhanced to help him justify his actions.

The majority of Americans don’t need to worry about these details. It’s easier to remain ignorant and live in a world where there are good guys and bad guys. But if the killing of Mike Brown proved anything, it’s that most Americans don’t care enough about police murders of young black men to question the narrative they are given. It’s easier to pretend that police officers don’t manipulate cases. It’s easier to believe that a prosecutor would never throw out a case to prevent a cop from going to trial. It’s easier to believe that Brown attacked Wilson, and Wilson, against all odds survived and took out a criminal – even though eyewitness testimony and evidence clearly prove that Wilson was lying.



Grand Jury Testimony
Wilson’s Interview with the St. Louis County Police Department
Witness 16 Interview with the FBI

Challenging Accepted Narratives on Mike Brown and Notions of Justice


One year ago, on August 9th 2014 at 12:04 pm in front of the Canfield Green Apartments in Ferguson, Missouri, police officer Darren Wilson shot unarmed teenager Michael Brown in the head and killed him. The day will forever be remembered as a day that changed the course of American history. The murder of Mike Brown spawned a national movement to demand that Black Lives Matter, reawakened the nation to the plague of racism in America, challenged the way the American public views police power, and it will hopefully be successful in building black power in the country.

After a year of studying the grand jury testimony, evidence, and public discourse around this case, and the many murders committed by police officers since then, I find the most important takeaway is simple: it is crucial that white Americans stop wasting time waiting for corporate media and a failed justice system to pick apart a case, only to tell us lies.

On one hand, it’s absurd to deliberate the details of every individual case of police brutality against black people and every case of oppression of black communities. The media, government, or justice system is never going to give you the information you need to understand structural oppression—however, the people affected by it will. There are well-documented problems of racism, white supremacy, and systematic oppression in this country. They are deeply rooted in our media, culture, economic structure, and (in)justice system – including tactics of over-policing and mass incarceration. We need to deal with these problems immediately. While black Americans are in the streets demanding that the government stop abusing and killing them, supposed freedom-loving, white Americans have sat back, debated, and criticized. It’s time to stop.

On the other hand, the reality seems to be that most Americans haven’t been able to get beyond these debates, and for those who are still confused by anti-racism and anti-police brutality messaging, Mike Brown’s case provided a unique opportunity for analysis.

Since most cases of police brutality against black individuals do not gain national attention, there usually isn’t much room for discussion. Also, given that grand jury proceedings are usually kept secret, it’s impossible for the public to challenge the narrative they are provided. Thanks to protesters in Ferguson, Mike Brown’s murder uniquely gained national attention and almost all the grand jury documents from his case were released; so the public, in theory, had what it needed to challenge the mainstream narrative. Of course, it chose not to. Instead, the public largely accepted the mainstream narrative, which was delivered by St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Robert P. McCulloch and continuously parroted by the media and eventually, the Department of Justice until it was simply accepted as truth.

The media driven public narrative was as follows: Mike Brown started a fight with Darren Wilson at his SUV and attacked him with wild punches, scratches, and grabs; during the struggle, Brown tried to grab Wilson’s gun and Wilson was forced to shoot him; Brown ran away, but then turned and charged and Wilson killed him in self-defense. There were witnesses, who challenged Wilson’s story, but they were inconsistent and unreliable, and they lied because they were afraid of thugs in their own community. Conversely, there were witnesses who corroborated Wilson’s story and they were consistent and reliable, and the evidence supported their accounts, as well as Wilson’s. Finally, a fair and transparent judicial process determined these facts.

This narrative is entirely false. The importance of this case is that for anyone who chose to look, it underscored the ability of people in power to control the media and public opinion on police brutality through the use of lies and misinformation. The first anniversary of Mike Brown’s death is an opportunity to look back at what we should have learned from the 4,800-page testimony and many documents that were released after the decision not to indict Darren Wilson.

This is the start of a series of articles that reexamines and challenges the publicly accepted narrative of Mike Brown’s death. Each article will call into question a piece of this narrative—the fight at the SUV, the alleged gun grab, the purported charge, the reliability of witnesses, and the fairness of the grand jury process—by comparing various pieces of eyewitness testimony, expert witness testimony, evidence, and media coverage. The analysis clearly shows that what most people accepted as the truth, was simply not so. It will also show that if you truly care about freedom, equality, and justice, why you should stop debating such cases and opposing people fighting for change, and instead, support people’s struggle for justice.

Finally, those opposed to any criticisms of police will likely try to dismiss this perspective with “bad apple” arguments and by talking about high rates of crime or how police officers keep communities safe. While these arguments may be true in some ways, they are irrelevant, useless distractions to cases like Mike Brown’s. Police officers can perform heroic acts, arrest violent criminals, and have positive interactions with communities, while still assisting an appalling and oppressive system. Also, your experience with the police in white suburban America is drastically different from someone’s experience in poor, urban, black communities—so it is largely irrelevant to the problems discussed here.

Furthermore, people must recognize that police departments are part of a larger system of racial and class oppression—and officers play a big role in enforcing that system of oppression. This model needs to be challenged. So while you may feel that police officers perform necessary tasks to keep communities safe, it is vital to recognize that it is problematic to need such high levels of policing in a so-called free society. Most people are not inherently violent criminals looking for ways to destroy fellow humans, but rather, economic and political interests incentivize a system where people are criminalized. As a result, police departments and prison systems are used to deal with situations that should be addressed through other means, such as education, economic empowerment, community-based development, decriminalization, anti-austerity, and other socially beneficial practices. But this is a much larger discussion. If you’re not well aware of these issues, there are plenty of resources written by black Americans that can help expand your knowledge of these problems.

Ultimately, this series challenges the narrative of a specific case and shows that the public, including those that serve on juries, can be manipulated in order to thwart justice. It will show that the public and grand jury in Mike Brown’s case did not get an accurate picture of witness testimony or evidence because certain questions weren’t asked, witnesses who favored Wilson were not scrutinized, evidence was presented as if it proved things favorable to Wilson even when it did not, and a lack of evidence to confirm Wilson’s story was ignored. However, even if Wilson had not broken the law when he shot Brown in the head and killed him, justice was not served because prosecutors intentionally prevented Wilson from going to trial even though putting him on trial is their job.

Even if Brown had done what Wilson accused him of, this killing could have been avoided on so many levels, and the fact that it wasn’t, is a tragedy.

Part 1: Did unarmed black teenager Mike Brown really attack Darren Wilson?

Part 2: Evidence and witnesses do not prove Mike Brown grabbed Darren Wilson’s gun