The original story told by witnesses started the Hands Up, Don’t Shoot narrative. Dorian Johnson, who was present at the very least, with Mike Brown at the strong armed robbery, gave his version of what happened and that story was picked up and spread by others until it was the media narrative. The problem with that is that once locked into a narrative, even a false narrative, the truth never seems to overcome the lie. An example of the perpetuation of that lie is the five St. Louis Rams players who came out of the tunnel with their hands in the air.
It take a special kind of courageous person to go against that narrative, and against the community they have to live in. Honestly, Officer Darren Wilson was fortunate that there were some of those special people who testified to the Grand Jury. Without them, who knows what would have happened.
Piaget Crenshaw, subtly changed the meaning of her original testimony. Originally she said she witnessed the August 9 shooting, she told CNN’s Chris Cuomo in an exclusive interview that she saw Brown’s hands go up. When pressed she acknowledged other witnesses say different things about the position of the hands, but she said that’s irrelevant. “His hands were still visible in a manner (in which you could) tell he was unarmed. So at that point, (wherever) his hands were at, he was unarmed and should not have been shot.”
So from hands up to hands visible, not the same thing at all.
At least 12 witnesses claimed that Brown was shot from behind, which was factually false. At least 16 witnesses said Brown’s hands were up when he was shot, which was factually false.
On Monday night, after the release of the grand jury verdict rejecting indictment of Officer Darren Wilson in the Ferguson, Missouri shooting of 18-year-old black man Michael Brown, President Obama took to the microphones. “We need to recognize that this is not just an issue for Ferguson, this is an issue for America,” he said. “[T]here are still problems and communities of color aren’t just making these problems up.” Obama was wrong, at least in the case of Darren Wilson.
In viewing thousands of pages of FBI interviews and grand jury testimony, it becomes eminently clear that many members of the local community did make up the story about Michael Brown being executed by Wilson – and pressured others to lie to police or keep silent. According to the St. Louis County Police Investigative Report, the mob mentality took root almost immediately after the shooting. By the time detectives arrived at the scene of the incident, there was “a large crowd of bystanders and a large uniformed police presence at the scene when detectives arrived.” That crowd included both Brown’s mother and his stepfather, according to witness testimony.
The police report states, “Many individuals were clearly upset and were expressing their frustration, by at times yelling obscenities and threats, and attempting to encroach on the crime scene itself.” It got worse: As the scene investigation continued, there were several large groups of hostile individuals around the perimeter of the crime scene. The investigation of the scene was interrupted several times by death threats directed toward police officers and gunshots being fired by an unknown persons around the crime scene. According to the police report, a bevy of witnesses described intimidation from the local community, as well as falsification of testimony. One witness initially told police she didn’t want to “get involved for fear of retaliation.” She said, “I don’t know these people. I have to live here.”
Another female witness told police, “I don’t know nothin’.” An adult male near the scene “commented to detectives as they walked by that he witnessed the incident and the officer was ‘in the right’ and ‘did what he had to do.’ He added the statements being made by bystanders in the complex were inaccurate.
The detectives momentarily stopped to speak with the male who was clearly uncomfortable speaking with detectives. The male indicated he was not making any further comments or identifying himself.” Two more witnesses, one male and one female, “said they were afraid to speak about what they witnessed. Both said they were worried about retaliation from people who live in the area.” One “began crying and said she could not talk about it.” The male said that he saw Brown inside the vehicle. He turned away, and when he turned back, “the male began moving quickly toward the officer and he heard several more gunshots.” Both witnesses refused to provide recorded statements.
One witness told police that “she had been speaking to her neighbors about the incident, and her neighbors were getting upset at what they believed happened. Their beliefs were inconsistent with what she witnessed.” Yet the witness told police “that although present during the incident, and seeing the entirety of what happened, he would not be speaking to police for fear of retaliation from neighborhood residents. He also stated the information being broadcast by the news outlets was not accurate information and there were ‘blatant lies from those giving accounts of what they saw.’ He said there were multiple people present when the shooting occurred and even those people, when interviewed by the media, were giving false statements.”
Still another witness told police he had “already told investigators from Saint Louis County Police Department and the Federal Bureau of Investigation that he was not willing to formally discussed the incident, but he was willing to discuss his fears.” He said “threats… had been made to the residents of Canfield Green Apartment Complex. He said notes had been posted on various apartment buildings threatening people not to talk to the police, and gunshots were still being fired every night.” He said “there were at least 10 other people who were outside and saw exactly what happened. He was not willing to provide names of any of those individuals.” He said Wilson told Brown “no less than 10 times to get down” while they were both on the street. He said Brown never had hands raised.
In FBI interviews, witnesses repeated such accusations. Witness 10, whose account backed Wilson’s story, said, “I just wanted to come forward and just tell it how I seen it. Because I feel like it’s very rare that somebody’s gonna come forward and tell actually what happened.”
Witness 14, who initially said Brown was shot from behind before changing his story to accord with the facts, stated: You have to understand the mentality of some of these young guys they have nothing to do. When they can latch on the something they embellish it because they want something to do. This is something they giving the okay now we got something we can get into… The majority of them do not work. They all they do is sit around and get high all day… two people never seen these people before in my life in the whole time I have been out there and I sit out there a lot. Came up threatenin’, hey y’all better not say nothing, ah, you’ll snitching and all. Witness 14 added that within one minute of the shooting, there were 70 or 80 people “saying things that didn’t happen,” and they “started embellishing it when the stepfather showed up.” They lied, he said, when they said the officer “ran up behind him shot him in the back.” They lied, he said, when they said he had “his hands straight up in the air.” They lied, he said, when they stated that Brown was shot while down. “They had it in they mindset of what happened,” he continued. “They are set they are looking for a reason to explode, that’s what they, ‘cause they don’t have anything to do… They got nothing else to do they running all day they’re drinking and-and getting high all day we see this all the time.” And indeed, witness testimony showed that witnesses routinely embellished their accounts, changed them to fit autopsy results as those results broke in the media, and even lied about seeing the events at all.