Remember, “Hands up, don’t shoot?” It’s the gesture that some said encapsulated the shooting death of Michael Brown by then-Officer Darren Wilson in Ferguson, Missouri last summer–and now we can finally put this narrative to rest. It’s false–and the Department of Justice confirms it. Their report, which cleared Officer Darren Wilson of civil rights violations, noted that Michael Brown fought with Wilson, reached for his gun, and then charged the beleaguered policeman, leading him to fire his weapon in self-defense (via NYT):
The Justice Department has cleared a Ferguson, Mo., police officer of civil rights violations in the shooting of Michael Brown, a black teenager whose death set off racially charged and sometimes violent protests last year.
The decision, which was announced on Wednesday, ends a lengthy investigation into the shooting last August, in which Officer Darren Wilson shot and killed Mr. Brown in the street. Many witnesses said Mr. Brown had his hands up in surrender when he died, leading to nationwide protest chants of “Hands up, don’t shoot.”
But federal agents and civil rights prosecutors rejected that story, just as a state grand jury did in November. The Justice Department said forensic evidence and other witnesses backed up the account of Officer Wilson, who said Mr. Brown fought with him, reached for his gun, then charged at him. He told investigators that he feared for his life.
“There is no evidence upon which prosecutors can rely to disprove Wilson’s stated subjective belief that he feared for his safety,” the report said.
The report found that witnesses who claimed that Mr. Brown was surrendering were not credible. “Some of those accounts are inaccurate because they are inconsistent with the physical and forensic evidence; some of those accounts are materially inconsistent with that witnesses’ own prior statements with no explanation,” it said.
“Although some witnesses state that Brown held his hands up at shoulder level with his palms facing outward for a brief moment, these same witnesses describe Brown then dropping his hands and ‘charging’ at Wilson,” it added.
We shall see how the Ferguson community, Al Sharpton, the NAACP, and the media react to the DOJ report–and see if they continue to peddle falsehoods about the case. But I think it's safe to say that the Brown-Wilson portion of the Ferguson saga is over...finally.
Wilson has since resigned from the Ferguson Police Department.
Correction: The original post had Michael Brown as "Michael Wilson." We apologize for the error and the post has been updated to reflect the changes.