Even the Washington Post gave their verdict for the “hands up, don’t shoot” narrative: four pinocchios. Meaning it didn’t happen. The shooting death of Michael Brown by Officer Darren Wilson last summer in Ferguson, Missouri set off months of unrest and another national dialogue on race that devolved into chaos. When the Ferguson Grand Jury declined to press charges against Officer Wilson, who has since resigned from the Ferguson Police Department, it set off a second wave of rioting.
This incident, coupled with NYPD's involvement with the death of Eric Garner in Staten Island, spawned the now discredited “Hands up, don’t shoot” war cry, black lives matter, the bogus statistic that a black person is killed every 28 hours by police, and the bizarre move to disrupt Sunday brunches.
Michelle Ye Hee Lee detailed the facts of the case. Again, the DOJ report noted that the physical and forensic evidence doesn’t back up the various testimonies–around 40–that claimed Brown had his hands up:
Some admitted to federal investigators they felt pressured to retell the narrative that was being spread after Brown’s shooting. Others recanted their initial testimonies saying they had heard it through media reports or via social media. A few witnesses said Brown had his hands out to his side with his palms up, as if saying “What?” Others said Brown’s hands were not raised, as he was charging at Wilson. A few said Brown’s hands were “balled up.”
Investigators narrowed down the “hands up” claim to a witness – Witness 128 – who had told his family and neighbors his inaccurate version of events as crowds gathered minutes and hours after the shooting, the report says. Another witness could not confirm what she saw because of her poor vision, but she heard a man running around the apartments along the street where Wilson shot Brown. The man was saying something to the effect of, “The police shot my friend and his hands were up.” The witness said that “quickly became the narrative on the street, and to her frustration, people used it both as an excuse to riot and to create a ‘block party’ atmosphere.”
A key passage from the report:
Investigators tracked down several individuals who, via the aforementioned media, claimed to have witnessed Wilson shooting Brown as Brown held his hands up in clear surrender. All of these purported witnesses, upon being interviewed by law enforcement, acknowledged that they did not actually witness the shooting, but rather repeated what others told them in the immediate aftermath of the shooting. … Witness accounts suggesting that Brown was standing still with his hands raised in an unambiguous signal of surrender when Wilson shot Brown are inconsistent with the physical evidence, are otherwise not credible because of internal inconsistencies, or are not credible because of inconsistencies with other credible evidence. In contrast, Wilson’s account of Brown’s actions, if true, would establish that the shootings were not objectively unreasonable under the relevant Constitutional standards governing an officer’s use of deadly force.
In the end, it as ruled that Officer Wilson acted in self-defense and was justified in killing Michael Brown. No civil rights charges will be filed against Wilson.
In a presser upon the release of the reports, Attorney General Eric Holder said, “It remains not only valid – but essential – to question how such a strong alternative version of events [hands up, don’t shoot] was able to take hold so swiftly, and be accepted so readily.”
The Media Research Center puts the blame squarely on the media for fanning the flames, alleging these outlets weren’t interested in telling the truth.
One should have been skeptical from the account of events given by key witness Dorian Johnson, who was with Brown on the day he died. He alleges Wilson shot Brown in the back, and that he had his hands up. Johnson’s recollection of events had discrepancies, the evidence surely didn’t back it up, and he had a history of lying to police. In 2011, he gave authorities a fake name when he was suspected of a theft.
As for Eric Garner in New York, that’s a different story entirely as there is video evidence of officers putting Garner in what appears to be a chokehold. Garner died later that day. The Staten Island Grand Jury also decided to file charges against the police.
Lastly, while the Brown-Wilson portion of this tragic saga is over, the DOJ report about the Ferguson Police Department sheds light on some serious issues, including racial bias. Leon Wolf over at RedState has a great post about how conservatives’ pro-police attitude is blinding us to news stories and reports about law enforcement’s inexcusable behavior, which–at times–needs to be addressed:
Conservatives, on the other hand, have become highly resistant to assimilating information that strongly suggests that the Ferguson PD – as with many other municipal police departments in the country – truly is out of control, in that it recklessly violates the constitutional rights of the citizens of Ferguson and does so in a manner that has a clearly disproportionate impact on minorities.
Editor's Note: Some have emailed me about Eric Garner, citing that he died from heart attack on the way to the hospital that due to his weight and other health issues. While those were listed as contributing factors, the medical examiner "listed compression of the neck and chest, along with Garner's positioning on the ground while being restrained by police," as what caused his death. At the time, Fox News contributor Judge Andrew Napolitano told Hugh Hewitt there is a case to be made for "criminally negligent homicide." The chokehold has been banned by the NYPD since 1993. The Federalist's Sean Davis wrote that second-degree manslaughter was a "slam dunk."
Of course, there's still debate over these cases.