The Situation in Ferguson, MO

Wendy S. Delmater
By Wendy S. Delmater on Thu, Aug 14, 2014 - 8:09am

Is this really what you need to stop a protest? This been gone so far smh

The situation in Ferguson, MO, sparked by the police shooting death of an unarmed young black man, is a perfect example of the erosion of our civil liberties. I am not condoning the looting and rioting on the first night of protests, but the heavy-handed response of the local, militarized police infringed on many civil liberties. Note that all this is on top of a case of alleged police brutality in the death of Mike Brown.

1st Amendment , Bill of Rights

Protects the people's right to practice religion, to speak freely, to assemble (meet), to address the government and of the press to publish.

In Ferguson, MO, last night peaceful protestors who were chanting, "Hands up - Don't shoot!) were met with around 70 militarized policemen with gear that looked straight out of a war zone, scoped rifles and a heavily armored personnel carrier (APC) . They were told over a police loudspeaker that their right to assemble was not being infringed, right before they were told to break it up. Sure looked like it was at least being intimidated.

Journalists were more than harassed by police in Ferguson last night. Two journos from major news outlets--the Washington Post and Huffpo--were jailed without probable cause. An Al-Jazzera news crew was hit with tear gas and their cameras were reportedly disassembled. News choppers were kept out of the sky with a no-fly zone.

During what was essentially a media blackout only citizen journalists on Twitter and other social media were the only ones reporting.

51m

In armored police ordered TV trucks away, arrested journos, tear-gassed all. Now you see why rest of the world loves the Internet.

4th Amendment

Protects the people from the government improperly taking property, papers, or people, without a valid warrant based on probable cause (good reason).

Again, journalists were more than harassed by police in Ferguson last night. Two reporters from major news outlets--the Washington Post and Huffpo--were jailed without probable cause. When they were released they were told it was "as a favor."

Others arrested last night being charged with unlawful assembly, etc...

An elected official  - reiterates he's received no charging documents.

Local filmmaker Ryan Frank was arrested while recording the protest for the release of .

5th Amendment

Protects people from being held for committing a crime unless they are properly indicted, that they may not be tried twice for the same crime, and that you need not be forced to testify against yourself. It also contains due process guarantees.

Take a look at one of the arrested reporter's experiences. It sure did not look like "due process" to me. 

(Edited to add: Antonio Fench was released and just like the reporters they gave him no reason for his arrest or detention.)

6th Amendment

Guarantees a speedy trial, an impartial jury, and that the accused can confront witnesses against them, and that the accused must be allowed to have a lawyer.

It's rather difficult to confront the arresting officers if no one will let you have their badge numbers.

275 Comments

A. M.'s picture
A. M.
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Small issue...

I've got a small issue with this, and that is I carried less equipment in Afghanistan than these officers have in Ferguson. 

It's absolute insanity. After a decade of war, trying to win hearts and minds, we are dangerously close to creating an insurgency amongst our own countrymen. This has a lot of room for discussion, but I think the first practice that needs to end, right now, is hiring police from "hubs" rather than pulling from local communities. 

An officer shouldn't "represent the demographic", he/she should BE the demographic.

Cheers,

Aaron

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bias in demographics

Ferguson is an interesting place. The first house I ever purchased was in Ferguson, less than a mile from where most of this is taking place. I now live and work about 20 miles from there. I have one employee who lives there now and one that is 5 miles away from the burned out QT. I have collected several first hand reports of what is going on there both during the day and night, however I have not visited recently. I also have spoken to a law enforcement officer actively involved in the day to day there.

Ferguson is interesting in that it is bracketed by very large corporations and academia (Boeing, Express Scripts, University of Missouri St. Louis) however the only sizable corporation that was in Ferguson (Emerson Electric) has long since left. There have been a lot of public works projects, but tax base is eroding, and Ferguson seems to be getting adopted by its unfortunate neighbors of impoverished, mostly black communities. I do not know the current race statistics, however I recently learned that there are 53 active duty police on the force, only 2 of which are African American. This CLEARLY does not represent the makeup of the community.

If you had asked me to predict which area of St. Louis would most likely succumb to this type of situation last year, Ferguson would not have been in my top 10. That's telling to me in that I am either clueless to the race tensions (very possible) or that this simply could happen anywhere (more likely IMHO).

So in terms of the gear being sported by police, it's a mixed bag. Protesters are carrying weapons and doing drive by's. They are tossing Molotov Cocktails,  and some are still intent on looting. For those protesters, I would expect police to come prepared to protect the rest of the community. At the same time, there are many peaceful and legal minded protesters, including a Mo state Senator who was tear gassed last night. We now also have the KKK as well as the New Black Panthers rolling in to add to the excitement. Fun, no?

I do not have any answers. What I can say is that if I were still living in my lovely 12' ceilinged Century Home I adored as my first home, I would want the police there to make sure no more tire stores or beauty shops get trashed, and to make sure the KKK doesn't get a wild hair and engage the Panthers. I am not a police tactician, I really don't know the best way to do that without infringing on the rights of the peaceful protesters who have every right to be there. I also feel very strongly there are agent provocateurs at work here.

No black and white here, only shades of grey.

Hoping for restored peace soon

R~

Edited to add:

PS - Stole this from my wife:

A little over a year ago, after a jury acquitted the man who killed Trayvon Martin, and after watching the turmoil occurring with the Normandy School district, I began a journey to educate myself and better understand white privilege, racism and social justice. 



At this time, I remain hopeful that the truth will come out regarding the death of Michael Brown. And I am keeping his family, and the officer and his family in my thoughts – this is a terrible, tragic situation. I post this message because Michael's death is part of a larger problem. If you are ready to learn and try to understand, consider reading the following books:

Dear White America, Letter to a New Minority, by Tim Wise

White Like Me, Reflections on Race from a Privileged Son, by Tim Wise

White Privilege, Essential Readings on the Other Side of Racism, by Paula Rothenberg

Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria, by Beverly Daniel Tatum, PH.D.

Why Social Justice Matters, by Brian Barry

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Plenty of blame to go around in Ferguson, MO

http://market-ticker.org/akcs-www?post=229299

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Was Mike Brown 6'4", 292 lbs?

Was the deceased Mike Brown 6'4" and 292 lbs? Is that 18 year old, unarmed Mike Brown in the surveillance video of the convenience store robbery?  Those might be relevant facts if they're facts.  Even so, we need more information on what actually occurred when the officer confronted Brown on the street.

http://www.thegatewaypundit.com/2014/08/breaking-photos-released-of-susp...

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Public perception battle

So, was Mike Brown a bully and thief?  An innocent victim?  A violent criminal caught in the act?  A nice young man just minding his own business?

The battle for the hearts and minds of the public heats up.  And "truth" is a casualty.

Thanks for the update, Tom and Ready.

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More possible facts

More possible facts.  

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2725917/Ferguson-police-Officer-...

Regardless of Brown's size and potential guilt, his shooting still has to be legally justified.  And EACH SHOT has to be legally justified.  We still don't have much reporting on that (though it seems to me we have a great deal of solidified opinion).  IF Brown and Officer Wilson are struggling over the Officer's gun INSIDE the Officer's car, it's easy to imagine the Officer shooting Brown one time (as reported) and that being legally justified.  If Officer Wilson shoots an unarmed Brown fleeing on foot or surrendering with hands raised (after being shot once) it's easy to imagine that being completely NOT legally justified.  BUT we don't have much reporting on that yet.  I'm wondering about some of the details about Officer Darren Wilson: age, height, weight, physical condition, history of confirmed excessive use of force.  These facts might be relevant when we can get them.  And I wonder, at the moment Officer Wilson confronted Brown on the street, if Officer Wilson was one of those scarey "militarized police" I've been hearing so much about recently or if he was just a "regular" police officer.  I wonder what equipment Officer Wilson was wearing/carrying on his body when this incident went down.  I'm not wondering what equipment Wilson had available in his trunk or locked inside the cabin of his car because it doesn't, so far, seem relevant to this situation. And I certainly don't think it's relevant to the death of Mike Brown how much militarized equipment the Ferguson PD has available to them in storage.  That would be relevant to a discussion on "militarized police" but not to the death of Mike Brown.

Now, Dorian Johnson's statements have to be viewed in a more suspicious light as he appears to be an accomplice in a strong arm robbery (felony of the 2nd degree in MO).  Might accomplice Johnson exaggerate or lie to protect himself and protect Mike Brown's memory?  Possibly.  Might Officer Darren Wilson lie or exaggerate to protect himself from liability? Possibly.  Hopefully, ballistics evidence and other physical evidence will be gathered and shared with the public to help us come to some conclusions about what is the truth of what happened. Hopefully, conclusions won't be drawn FIRST and the evidence DESTROYED quickly before anyone can see it, like was done at World Trade Center #7 or the scene of the Sandyhook school shooting in CT.  As long as the politicians and celebrities stay out of it, I'm confident for a better investigative outcome.  Already, someone has apparently risked their job, their pension and possibly their life by releasing copies of the investigator's report of the store robbery, probably out of fear that it would be buried or altered to fit some political agenda.  Hurray to whoever did that!!  (That's assuming what we've seen is the ACTUAL police report and not a fabrication.)

Regardless of Mike Brown's guilt or innocence, his description and that of his accomplice Dorian Johnson seemed quite close (if not "exact") to the robbery suspects' description.  (Look at the surveillance video pictures and compare them to the appearance of Brown's body on the street for yourself.)  They were also in close proximity to the crime minutes after the crime was committed.  Officer Darren Wilson had every legal justification to stop those two males on the street long enough to conduct an investigation to see IF they were the guilty persons or not.  IF the suspects to be stopped refused to stop and just kept walking, Officer Wilson had every legal justification to escalate his use of force in an appropriate and incremental way to MAKE them stop.  IF the suspects used force to resist being stopped or if they assaulted Officer Wilson he had every legal justification to escalate his use of force even more in an appropriate and incremental way to overcome their physical resistance and/or to stop their assault.  I would hope at least this much could be agreed upon in theory before going on to the thornier issues.  There are a lot of other legal and constitutional-rights issues I have not addressed here, such as the appropriateness of the PD's response to the protesters.

Tom

 

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A wonderful Re-frame

http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/post-nation/wp/2014/08/14/meet-the-mi...

A new African American Police officer has been put in charge in Ferguson, MO, and he is re-framing the situation:

He says, this is my home, I live here too.

SWAT forces with body armor and sniper posts were removed.  No rifles will be aimed at demonstrators.

He pledged to keep the streets open and will walk WITH protesters who are voicing distress at the way African Americans are treated.

“We are going to have a different approach and have the approach that we’re in this together,” Johnson, a Ferguson native, told reporters Thursday afternoon. “I understand the anger and fear that the citizens of Ferguson are feeling, and our officers will respect both of those.” 

Not only did Johnson march with the protesters, but he vowed to not blockade the street and to ensure that residents’ rights to assemble and protest were not infringed upon. Officers working crowd control, he said, were told they must take off their gas masks.

“When I see a young lady cry because of fear of this uniform, that’s a problem,” he said. “We’ve got to solve that.”

A. M.'s picture
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Delicate situation

Sand_Puppy,

Thanks for sharing that - This approach is exactly what's needed.

The stand-off mentality has traditionally failed our country, and sometimes, it's less important to follow protocol, contain the threat, secure the perimeter and maintain operational control than it is to just admit this was a tragedy borne from tragedy, and address it like civilized adults. 

I have no illusions that Brown was up to no good. He probably was. 
But it was not a lethal amount of no good, and he was a young man.
Which of us was perfect at 18? 

This whole situation should have been handled with lighter hands. It has emphasized an issue of real importance, which is the way law enforcement has become an arbiter of rights, rather than a impartial protector of an institution. I don't even want to get started on the separation of executive and judicial powers, which has been compromised for at least my lifetime...

While race no doubt plays in, and that should be of serious concern as well, there's no real way to eliminate these prejudices beyond hiring more citizens *from* the community. While this approach gives rise to favoritism, bullyism and opens the door for petty corruption, it doesn't result in SWAT trucks full of guys ready for war on their own town... that I've ever seen anyhow.

Hollywood is to blame for this, I think.
They've perpetuated the notion that police are "Good guys" and offenders are "bad guys" so long that it becomes morally justifiable to act like everything your doing is from a position of moral authority. 

Some years back, while I was working as a Security Forces patrolman, we had a call that a man had taken his family hostage. It was shift change, and I turned over right about the time it happened, but the next day at guard mount we talked over what had happened. Our NCOIC (Sergeant in charge) was a reservist who was a SWAT officer. He worked the problem as such. 

Turns out, the guy was suicidal and had barricaded himself in the room. He had a medical condition nd thought his children would be better off with the life insurance, since the military was cutting him loose... He took his own life when the situation became persucatory. 

Found out later I actually knew the guy. A good fella, with a nice family.
That was the moment I realized that policing had to change in some way, and that it probably wouldn't on my command. I hope this anecdote makes sense in light of the situation here... Had our NCOIC stopped, talked and holstered weapons, things may have turned out different. 

Cheers,

Aaron

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Well, that didn't last long

MSP Capt. Johnson's new approach was exactly what should have happened from the beginning, if for no other reason than to put the burden of proof back on the "protesters" to demonstrate who was acting "right." In spite of the much improved law enforcement approach and valuable photo ops, the rioting/looting resumed last night.  http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2014-08-16/looting-resumes-ferguson-local-police-ordered-stand-down

And, finally, citizens are taking up arms and personal responsibility to protect their own property! More of that from the beginning would take much of the burden off the police to "do something" and further clarify who in the crowds and in the ranks are the good guys and who aren't.  No one can blame the store owners for Mike Brown's death nor for the excessive police posture and response.  No one, except by inference, the rioters/looters.

But of course we all realize here that you can do all the right things in the right way and sometimes there will still be "trouble" that has to be dealt with.  And in a situation like Ferguson has devolved into, sometimes the best thing for the police to do is just "stand down" until things get so bad the majority of the public is begging for a forceful police response.

Aaron: join me in not jumping to conclusions about what happened on the street between Mike Brown, Dorian Johnson and Officer Darren Wilson after Brown and Johnson robbed the store.  You wrote:

I have no illusions that Brown was up to no good. He probably was. 

But it was not a lethal amount of no good, and he was a young man.

Which of us was perfect at 18? 

Neither of us has enough information yet to even begin to form an opinion as to whether it was reasonable for Officer Wilson to form the belief that he was in danger of death or grave bodily injury during the confrontation with two strong-arm robbers.  Let's hold off on solidifying that opinion just like we would if Officer Wilson had been found shot to death with his own gun and Mike Brown had been arrested for that murder later on.  And, by the way, being 18 years old (young and vigorous), not to mention 6'4" and 292 lbs, might very reasonably be some of the reasons Officer Wilson might fear for his life in a physical, hand-to-hand struggle with Mike Brown.  I'm all for being understanding about "youthful indiscretion" and bending over backwards to be helpful to redirect a young person gone astray.  But I wouldn't be in the mood for any of that at the very moment I was in a fight to the death with that "wayward youth." 

Tom

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Fair points

Tom,

You bring up some good points. My starting position on these issues is always "did the resolution justify the action?" So often times, especially with my friends in LE, I hear the "don't form opinions without facts" mantra.

Its good advice. The media frenzy has a way of removing rationale, but humans are impulsive creatures that can't always be counted upon to think before they act... Personally, while the disparity of force may have justified lethal force, there might have been other options that wouldn't have caused riots...

That better resolution is what I'd be looking for. 

As to the riots, I doubt they're even really about Brown being shot.

Glad to hear your thoughts, Tom!

Aaron

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Was Mike Brown ~10 yards from the police car when he fell?

Tom,

I agree with you that this is an important issue and that we need to get the facts straight.  I wouldn't have chosen to discuss it on PP, because it's a very politically charged issue, and it seems that PP is at its best when the focus is on big-picture destabilizing shifts and how to respond to those as opposed to political issues.  But, since it has been brought up here, I have some questions about the incident.

My first question is, was Mike Brown unarmed?

My second question is, is it true that Mike Brown was over 10 yards from the police car when he fell?

My third question is, is it true that Mike Brown was shot more than five times, and that he was shot in the back at least once?

My fourth question is, was Mike Brown holding his hands above his head when the final shots went in to his body?

You and Aaron know a lot more than I do about when it is legal for police officers to shoot unarmed people, and I am interested in learning more about that, but to begin to understand this situation better, I was wondering if you can confirm or debunk the impressions I have about the facts of this incident, based on those four questions.

Thanks,

Hugh

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To be determined

Hi Hugh!

I'm unsure about the answers to your questions, but here's some of my reactions until we have more information. I didn't start paying attention to this incident until about 3 days after it happened and haven't gone back to see the media coverage from the first few days.  Your questions 2 - 4 were in the media back then but not since.  I'll be glad to hear who was present for this incident (on the street, not the robbery in the store) and what their testimony is. So far, I've only heard three people named as being present and eye witnesses: Mike Brown, Dorian Johnson and Officer Darren Wilson. If you could share the identities and accounts of other witnesses, I'd devour that information.  But I assume you know that when sensational incidents like this take place there are nearly always a few people who claim to be eye witnesses who weren't; who refuse to cooperate with law enforcement so the perpetrator can be prosecuted (in this case Officer Darren Wilson); or who make a sworn, signed statement to law enforcement but at trial refuse to show up, change their story significantly, or are discredited on cross examination.  So, in the long run, I'm interested in hearing the accounts of real, credible witnesses.

1. Was Brown unarmed?  Dorian Johnson, "the community," and the police (who have examined Brown's body at the scene) all say Brown was unarmed.  This is one of the few "facts" I trust in this case so far: Brown entered into the event unarmed (aside from the "personal weapons" we all carry with us: hands, elbows, knees, feet, etc.).  Dorian Johnson and the police also seem to agree that very quickly after leaving his patrol car Officer Darren Wilson was engaged in some kind of physical fight/struggle with Mike Brown which somehow ended up back inside Wilson's patrol car, though Johnson and the police describe it differently.  I trust that fact so far too.  The police have publicly stated that Officer Darren Wilson, during that struggle inside the police car (I'm assuming that is in the driver's seat area), fought to keep Mike Brown from getting his firearm away from him and in the process shot Brown one time.  I haven't heard Dorian Johnson or anyone else deny that this happened (though the reason they started fighting is not settled yet). So I'm going to allow myself to form the impression that Officer Wilson and Brown fought each other inside the police car and Officer Wilson shot Brown one time during that fight in the car. I feel comfortable accepting those "facts" for now.

2. Was Brown ten yards from the police car when he fell?  I haven't heard anything about that, but I'm wondering if someone has said he was ten yards from Officer Wilson when shot?  I can't imagine a scenario where it would be legally justifiable to shot an unarmed man who is ten yards away.  If Officer Wilson fired even one shot that hit Brown when they were ten yards apart, Officer Wilson will be charged with murder or manslaughter, as he should be.  On the other hand, people can run away or fight for surprising amounts of time after receiving what turns out to be a fatal gunshot wound.  In fact, people who deal with a lot of people shot with handguns (like me) find that it is the exception when gunshot victims fall where they're hit. Nearly everybody runs or walks away, and some keep on fighting the person who shot them.  The hand full I can remember who fell right where they were hit suffered devastating head wounds that entered the base of their brain and destroyed their ability to move in a conscious way.  But even most (hand) gunshot head wounds aren't fatal, and even those that are most of the time allow the person to move, talk, etc. for a few seconds or minutes  before death ensues (or even decades - Reagan press secretary James Brady just died of his head wound!).  Right around the corner from the local police station where I work, an off duty officer was in line at the 7-11 store when a guy in front of him pulled out a gun with his finger on the trigger, pointed it at the clerk and demanded the money from the register.  The off duty officer shot the armed robber in the back of the head one time with his 9mm semiautomatic handgun.  The robber dropped his gun, went outside, and ran one city block before collapsing and dying.  (There's an example of a justifiable shot in the back.)  I'm looking forward to photos and crime scene drawings that show Mike Brown's body in relation to the police car.  That will help clarify what happened and which "witnesses" are telling the truth.  We will also have objective, scientific evidence after Brown's autopsy about how far the muzzle of Officer Wilson's gun was when each shot was fired that hit Brown.  Every time a gun is fired tiny bits of unburned gunpowder travel down the barrel and go down range toward the target.  At close range (approximately up to 10-15 feet), some of these bits of gunpowder are deposited on the skin and clothing of the person who was shot. Detectives and medical examiners have data that help them conclude how far from the victim the gun was fired based on the amount of gunpowder on the victim and its pattern around the bullet hole. If there is gunpowder around Mike Brown's wounds we'll be able to have an educated conclusion about the range involved.  If there is no gunpowder, we'll know that that particular wound was caused by a gun beyond the 10-15 feet expected range of the unburnt powders.   I am waiting for this very valuable information.  

3.  Was Mike Brown shot more than 5 times, one of which was in the back?  This is a great question because the answer will be an objective fact established by an autopsy and an examination of Officer Darren Wilson's gun and magazines, not somebody's opinion.  The objective answer from the autopsy and the gun examination will help us judge the credibility of various "witnesses." For now, I would tend to distrust any "witness" (including Officer Darren Wilson) who "knows" how many shots Officer Wilson fired, how many hit Mike Brown, and where on his body Brown was hit.  Except in instances where only one shot is fired, it is unusual that anybody involved in or witnessing the shooting can accurately tell how many shots were fired, much less how many shots actually hit the victim and where on the body.  Shooters (police and others) usually don't know how many shots they fired and their memories usually record a number less than the actual number fired.  Dang! - even victims usually don't know how many shots are fired at them and sometimes don't even know how many times they've been hit!  I am very much looking forward to getting these objective facts, and in the meantime I'm not accepting any "facts" that aren't reported by multiple sources, including the police.  A question that could be discussed now is how often someone "should" be shot.  In movies and TV, hand gun shots drop people in their tracks, but in real life hardly ever, as discussed above.  Police and non-sworn citizens are trained to keep shooting your assailant until he quits doing whatever he was doing that was threatening your life.  Hand gun rounds are relatively feeble and it USUALLY takes more shots than you would expect to stop someone who is intent on killing you.  

4. Was Mike Brown holding his hands above his head when shot?  I don't know the answer to that but I wonder who said he did.  I'm hoping for video evidence that might shed some light on this.  There may even be evidence from the autopsy that helps with this question.  It's unlikely, but possible, that a shooting could be deemed justifiable if the attacker threw up his hands in surrender while he's being shot multiple times by the defender.  If an attacker is choking me to death or stabbing me, I would draw my handgun and fire as many rounds into him as fast as I could to try to stop his attack.  I could fairly easily fire 3-4 rounds every 1.0 seconds until the attacker threw his hands up to surrender.  In the time it would take for me to realize he had stopped and thrown his hands up and then for my brain to tell my hand to quit shooting I could easily fire 1-3 more rounds.  A witness to the attack on me and my self-defense shooting would see the attacker throw up his hands and me fire 1-3 more shots in less than a full second.  I seriously doubt that's what happened between Mike Brown and Officer Darren Wilson, and I'm reserving judgment about whether Brown, at any time, put his hands up to surrender.  I want to see/hear the evidence for that and judge it's credibility for myself.

You'll notice that the police and the prosecutors are doing what they always do: they're strictly limiting what information they give out to the public.  One of many good reasons for this is so that potential witnesses won't know what facts the police have.  The police and prosecutors will compare witness and alleged witness statements to each other and to the physical evidence they gather.  Keeping this information secret keeps witnesses and alleged witnesses from tailoring their testimony to the hard facts and to the testimony of others, and allows the police and prosecutors (and eventually the judge and jury) to judge the credibility of witnesses. In the meantime, members of the public are free to get in front of a camera and make statements about the incident without danger of being contradicted by the police or prosecutors.  Time will tell.  (In the meantime, I'm trying to keep an open mind as much as possible.)

I have two questions for you Hugh.  Do you think Mike Brown and Officer Darren Wilson were fighting inside the police car and Brown was trying to get Officer Wilson's gun?  What do you believe are the range of reasonable and legally justifiable police officer's responses to such an attack?

Please do send me any information on these questions that you've read/heard.

Tom

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Incoming possible "facts"

Was Brown attacking when shot? Did witnesses overheard at the scene corroborate this with a friend of the Officer's account?

http://www.ijreview.com/2014/08/168698-eyewitness-recalls-important-detail-background-video-mins-ferguson-shooting/

Look for differences between the first autopsy and the second:

http://news.yahoo.com/justice-department-conduct-independent-autopsy-missouri-shooting-victim-153233316.html;_ylt=AwrBEiQBzfBTLAkAIvDQtDMD

Why do we get so much detail from BRITISH media?

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2726609/Stores-looted-including-one-slain-teen-Michael-Brown-allegedly-stole-cigars-sixth-night-confrontation-Ferguson-St-Louis-police-ordered-stand-Highway-Patrol.html

And from the always objective, middle-of-the-road Washington Post /sarc off/  (in this article, all the testimony about the incident that doesn't come from the police comes from Dorian Johnson, a co-conspirator in the robbery):

http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/in-ferguson-three-minutes--and-two-lives-forever-changed/2014/08/16/f28f5bc0-2588-11e4-8593-da634b334390_story.html

Tom

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Fear of telling the truth

There are some people in Ferguson who could conceivably fear telling the truth to the police and the media if the truth they know runs counter to the protesters' views of what happened:

http://www.thegatewaypundit.com/2014/08/report-convenience-store-manager-terrified-of-being-murdered-by-stores-customers/

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Ferguson is a "rough neighborhood", Red Meme

My wife is from this part of the Saint Louis area and knows Ferguson as a "rough neighborhood," one that you try not to drive through.  And never visit at night.  

If someone runs their car into yours, you don't stop or get out of your vehicle for any reason--it was probably deliberate and they intend to rob you when you get out.  And maybe shoot you.

Lots of drugs and alcohol.  People getting hurt.

Though there are assuredly many good and decent people living in Ferguson, (and I don't want to belittle the decent majority) there is also the Red Meme.  (The term "Red Meme" refers the Spiral Dynamics a more primitive developmental stage that respects only power.  Examples:  Feudal warlords, inner city gangs, prison gangs, the Vikings, "Might makes right," "If I have the power to take it then I am the rightful owner."  Uses fear to dominate, may enjoy hurting others to enhance personal power, respects others only to the degree that they can hurt him back. The strongest and meanest rise to the top.)

The brief video of Mike Brown robbing the store and shoving the shop keeper gives me the impression that he was a bully (Red Meme).  And not just a bully, but a big, strong bully

One of my jobs of the Emergency Department has forced me to see the interaction between arresting officers and patients who are under arrest

A big conclusion is that Size Matters.

More precisely, amount of force needed to subdue a violent individual depends on how determined they are to hurt the officers and how big and strong they are.   A little 100 pound intoxicated woman may be screaming obscenities, biting and kicking, but she can pinned and held with a wrist lock.  Rarely are little violent people hurt.

Just the opposite for a big strong man.  I have seen 3 and 4 officers be unable to subdue an enraged, intoxicated, large, muscular young man determined to fight to the death.  Officers are often hurt. They eventually have to use extreme amounts of force to subdue, sometimes injuring in the process.  Was that force justified?  Absolutely yes.  

But that judgment was because I could see the whole thing, see the patients intention to hurt the officers and the ferocity of his attacks.

If I just read in the newspaper about the police beating up someone I might be outraged.  I might imagine that he was a nice man, someone like me perhaps, minding his own business, when attacked by police.  But I saw what the police would sometimes be up against.  

Red Meme requires force to restrain it.  A neighborhood under the domination of Red (gangs, the mafia, a drug cartel) is a horrendous place for good people to live.  The decent people of Ferguson need an effective police force to restrain the Red elements of their own communities. 

 

 

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Too many abstractions, Sand Puppy

Hi Sand Puppy,

The Ferguson situation is clearly a difficult one, with many tough questions.  It seems that the main question that has been discussed in the last few posts is:

Was it justifiable for officer Darren Wilson to shoot Mike Brown with several bullets? 

A more technical but also somewhat euphemistic phrasing would be:

"Was it justifiable for officer Darren Wilson to use deadly force against Mike Brown."

 

I agree, Sand Puppy, with many of the postulates in your post, including:

-sometimes it makes sense to respond to power with power

-that sometimes force is justified when police officers are dealing with suspects

-that people of all communities benefit from enforcement of the rule of law, which includes an effective police force

Then there are some things you say that are more subjective but that you still allow to be used to draw your conclusion. These include:

-your wife, who is from that part of St. Louis, sees Ferguson as a scary and dangerous neighborhood.

- you have seen that the strength of 3 or 4 police officers was not enough to subdue a large uncooperative and violent man.

You conclude by saying

Red Meme requires force to restrain it.  A neighborhood under the domination of Red (gangs, the mafia, a drug cartel) is a horrendous place for good people to live.  The decent people of Ferguson need an effective police force to restrain the Red elements of their own communities. 

The suggestion here seems to be that you believe the officer was justified in shooting Mike Brown multiple times.  If that's not your conclusion then, I think most of us agree with most of what you have said on an abstract level.  I certainly agree that sometimes force must be answered with force*.  

But, if the main question is, was it justified for officer Wilson to shoot Brown several times, then your post does not really tell us much in terms of answering the question directly.

Just as your post leaves one with the feeling that officer Wilson was acting reasonably, I could write a post leaving the feeling that Wilson was acting unreasonably, without actually saying so.  The outline might go something like this:

-Police brutality and racial profiling is an undesirable phenomenon in many American cities

-In Ferguson, there have been several cases of documented police brutality and racial profiling in the last decade.

-Sometimes police officers get skittish when dealing with large suspects and overreact, using far more force than is necessary. (For an example of this, see the manslaughter of Eric Garner just last month).

-There should be laws and regulations that police officers must follow so that they are not able to just beat or shoot people whenever they want.

-In neighborhoods such as Ferguson, where crime is a problem, it is important for police officers to make a distinction between situations where deadly force is needed and situations where deadly force it not needed.

-We should try not to shoot 18 year olds whenever possible, because they are just barely adults.

If I concluded by saying something like the following, then most readers would probably be at least partially susceptible to an unspoken emotional appeal to conclude that the shooting was unjustified:

"The government exists to protect the people's rights.  This means that police officers should not shoot people unless their own lives are in danger.  The people of Ferguson have a right to a police force that does not engage in police brutality and racial profiling."

OK, so a person could agree with all of the abstractions in my theoretical post, and all of the abstractions in your post, but this still wouldn't really answer the question of whether or not it was justified for officer Wilson to shoot Mike Brown.  But, when one just reads your post (or if one were to read just my theoretical post) then the abstractions and emotional appeal would lead one to feel that the shooting was either justified or not.

So, what I am saying is that while I agree with most of the abstractions in your post, I don't really agree with the suggestion that it implies, because that suggestion is based on abstractions and emotional appeal.  

I don't think we know the answer to whether or not Mike Brown's shooting was justified, even though most of us have several preconceived ideas which makes us more partial to one conclusion or the other.

Cheers,

Hugh

*As a side note, I don't agree that force is the only possible response to the problem of what you call the red meme.   Sometimes, force is best answered by other means.  The obvious examples are Jesus, Gandhi, and Martin Luther King.  In all three cases their bodies were destroyed by force, yet they were/are successful to an important degree in terms of meeting their goals.

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One autopsy report is released

Tom, 

Thanks for your comprehensive reply.  According to this autopsy, no shots seem to have been fired into Brown's back.  On the other hand, officer Wilson shot Brown at least six times.

It's hard for all of us to stay neutral, as it seems we all have some preconceived ideas about how to learn about this incident and what to conclude.  

An example of bias is here:

 

thc0655 wrote:

And from the always objective, middle-of-the-road Washington Post /sarc off/  (in this article, all the testimony about the incident that doesn't come from the police comes from Dorian Johnson, a co-conspirator in the robbery):

http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/in-ferguson-three-minutes--and-two-lives-forever-changed/2014/08/16/f28f5bc0-2588-11e4-8593-da634b334390_story.html

First, you flagged the WaPo for bias on the basis that the above article relies on testimony from 1. police officers who were not present and 2. Dorian Johnson, who was the only close-up eye witness to the shooting and also present for the cigar robbery.  

Why is the fact that he was present (but not a co-conspirator, according to the Ferguson Police Chief) for the cigar robbery more relevant than the fact that he was the only close-up eye witness?  

Should the Washington Post have only interviewed the Ferguson police force, which clearly has its own interest in defending officer Wilson, as shown by the fact that it has released videotape of the cigar robbery but withheld many important details of the killing of Mike Brown.  (Yes, I realize the former case is closed whereas the police investigation of the shooting is still open, but the police knew how releasing the cigar robbery w/o releasing other details would also work it their favor.)

Also, you linked, without any similar caveats, an article from the so-called Independent Journalist Review, which is actually a clearly right-wing partisan publication, and the article you linked is originally from a blog called the Conservative Treehouse.

So, again, we all have our preconceptions and biases and it will be interesting to see how the facts that we are able to access clearly either add support or cast doubt on these beliefs.

I know we're all doing our best to see a sticky situation clearly.  I definitely have my preconceived suspicions about this case as well, and am doing my best to put those aside as more evidence comes to light.  :)

Cheers,

Hugh

P.S. The autopsy diagram belongs at the top of this post, but the quote box overlapped it, so I moved it down.

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Use of Deadly Force

Hey HughK,

Piggybacking on what's been said, depending on how the facts 'evolve' in this case, we are going to see a subtle shift in perception. The damage is done. The National Guard is being called in to quell the situation. 

So, playing off what Tom has been saying, there are some pretty pivotal points here, and as he (wisely) advised, I'll try not to jump to any conclusions:

1. The first point is whether or not there was a struggle between Brown and Wilson. If there was, the disparity in size could have justified him using a firearm to prevent his own death. So, from an "initiative" standpoint, there might not have been time to ascertain that Brown was or was not armed - which was one of my assumptions that I must admit was poorly considered. A less lethal option may simply not have been a conscious choice under the circumstances. 

2. Was the eye-witness testimony accurate? People are notoriously very bad at recollecting event sequences during times of stress. As Tom pointed out, there's a strong possibility that he put his hands up after being shot. If the officer continued to shoot (as would be the appropriate assumption, based on the autopsy above) after he surrendered, that's obviously criminally negligent. 

Even with these points lingering - the damage is done. That's point I was trying to make earlier: would a less lethal approach have yielded a new story? Probably not. This one went straight to his grandmother who saw him walking just minutes before he was shot down in cold blood. When that's the first (obviously biased) thought we hear on the matter, it's easy to see why people lost their minds. 

The bigger issue is that there is a very real resentment towards LE right now - one that I brought up to some officers in the past who rolled their eyes and brushed the concern off. Well, now we can see the impact of that approach. The police must be community members in addition to the retainers of 'law and order', whatever that happens to be.

Cheers,

Aaron

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thc0655 wrote: Regardless of
thc0655 wrote:

Regardless of Brown's size and potential guilt, his shooting still has to be legally justified.  And EACH SHOT has to be legally justified.  We still don't have much reporting on that (though it seems to me we have a great deal of solidified opinion).  IF Brown and Officer Wilson are struggling over the Officer's gun INSIDE the Officer's car, it's easy to imagine the Officer shooting Brown one time (as reported) and that being legally justified.  If Officer Wilson shoots an unarmed Brown fleeing on foot or surrendering with hands raised (after being shot once) it's easy to imagine that being completely NOT legally justified.  BUT we don't have much reporting on that yet. 

I quote Tom because these were my exact thoughts. I was very angry about this, but it goes to show that we don't have all of the information either. Why does it show this? Because I'm not as angry as I was and I have thought it out more logically, based on the way I was trained as a LEO many years ago. On the surface it looks like Officer Wilson is guilty of at least second degree homicide, but on hearing a different version of what the media has reported, maybe he isn't and this was a justified shooting. Time may tell.

How does my version play out? First a bit of background. I was a LEO in South Carolina from 1989 to 1994. We were taught that to use deadly force there needed to were several criteria that had to be met.

Ability: Does the person have the ability to cause death or serious bodily harm? Someone has a knife, crowbar, gun etc. In this "Ability" category Size and Gender can play into the mix. Female officer confronted by an "unarmed" Male that is 6'4" and 300 lbs. Officer doesn't have to be female, but size disparity must be reasonable. What is reasonable? I don't know. Never had to deal with this personally, nor have I heard of a case were it came into play. I'm 6'2" 255 lbs. 

Opportunity: Does the person have the opportunity to cause death or serious bodily harm? Person has a knife, but on the other side of a tall chain link fence. Deadly force NOT justified. If they have a gun then yes, they can shoot through, but must meet below criteria also. 

Jeopardy or Imminent Jeopardy: Person has a gun and is near you, but are they threatening or angry? Traffic stop in progress and driver states he has a carry permit and has it with him. Full compliance, cooperative and non threatening. Deadly force NOT justified. Jumps out of car with weapon in hand yelling about not having the right to pull him over and pointing his gun your way. Deadly force justified.

The other thing we are taught is to "Shoot to STOP" You shoot until the persons stops their aggressiveness. You never shoot to KILL or try to wound someone, which can get you killed. Shooting someone in the leg or arm, if you even had that kind of control in such a stressful situation, would not necessarily take the fight out of someone. You shoot center mass and if that isn't STOPPING them, then in the head. (They might have Body Armour) I was a Master class shot on the range, but that doesn't mean I can shoot that well in this type of situation. The autopsy shows that Wilson was shooting to the left some, but was able to finally hit Brown in the face and head area. (Was this because Brown was moving toward him?) If six rounds were discharged and all six of them hit Brown, then that was some pretty good shooting under an extreme amount of stress. I'm illustrating this clinically, not because I don't care about Brown, but to speak on the stresses of the situation. 

There is also a factor of an unarmed person going for an Officers weapon. Even if Officer retains control of the weapon, then deadly force "can" be justified. So if there was a struggle in the car for the weapon, then yes I can see the justification. Were it gets sticky is the subsequent shots. Did Brown push away from the car and raise his hands and Officer Wilson exited and kept shooting? What if Brown turns to flee, Wilson exits car to peruse and Brown stops, turns around and rushes Wilson? Even if he kept his hands in the air the whole time, Wilson would be justified in shooting. Nearly 300 lb unarmed man rushing me would get shot. After seeing the autopsy with one of the bullets entering the top of his skull, this could be that he was bent over rushing. I could indicate he was on his knees with his head bent forward too. The other bullet that entered his eye and went downward through his jaw and into his collar bone, indicates his head was in a downward position. Once again why was his head down? Was it submission or was he in a head down rush? If Brown was NOT rushing Wilson, then Wilson has a lot to answer for, if he was then Wilson was probably justified.

Distance is a factor too. If you have your gun in the holster and someone is 21 feet or less away from and they have a knife, they can reach you before you get your gun out if they rush you. If your gun is out then you reaction time to the threat will be faster. Many of the NFL lineman of Brown's size can cover 40 yards in 5 seconds. If Brown was 35 feet away when he went down then, 35 feet is almost 12 yards, closing speeds can be fast. So if you look at the incident without all of the other stuff of whether he stole form a the store or not and pick up at when first contact is made between Wilson and Brown. If Brown was rushing Wilson then Wilson may be justified. If he wasn't then Wilson isn't justified. Barring any more information this is my take on it.

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From Darren Wilsons Perspective (maybe)

Based on everything I know, if this is in fact what happened, the shooting seems justified.

http://tellmenow.com/2014/08/bombshell-mike-brown-was-on-something-at-ti...

“He pulled up ahead of them. And then he got a call-in that there was a strong-arm robbery. And, they gave a description. And, he’s looking at them and they got something in their hands and it looks like it could be what, you know those cigars or whatever. So he goes in reverse back to them. Tries to get out of his car. They slam his door shut violently. I think he said Michael did. And, then he opened the car again. He tried to get out. He stands up.

And then Michael just bum-rushes him and shoves him back into his car. Punches him in the face and then Darren grabs for his gun. Michael grabbed for the gun. At one point he got the gun entirely turned against his hip. And he shoves it away. And the gun goes off.

Well, then Michael takes off and gets to be about 35 feet away. And, Darren’s first protocol is to pursue. So, he stands up and yells, “Freeze!” Michael and his friend turn around. And Michael taunts him… And then all the sudden he just started bumrushing him. He just started coming at him full speed. And, so he just started shooting. And, he just kept coming. And, so he really thinks he was on something.”

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Sensing "where someone is coming from"

Watch the video of the convenience store robbery and feel the quality of what is happening: "What kind of person is this guy?"  "Were is he coming from?"

 

 

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There is another video

Which I will not link here due to the graphic nature both on video as well as the verbal commentary, however it was taken just moments after the event on a cell phone. The interesting thing about the video is not the owner or his comments, as he only heard the shots and then came to see what happened, but the conversation off to the side of another group (he caught this by accident) corroborating the events as described in my post above. It's hard to hear, but that seems pretty telling to me, a witness is telling others around what actually happened (and was apparently witnessed) but now is no where to be found in all the media reports?

It will all come out in the end, hopefully.

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Sandpuppy, was officer Wilson justified?

Sandpuppy wrote:

Watch the video of the convenience store robbery and feel the quality of what is happening: "What kind of person is this guy?"  "Were is he coming from?"

Hi Sandpuppy,

Probably most of us have seen the video that you posted.  Have you already concluded that based on this video as well as some beliefs about Ferguson and the role of law enforcement in general, that officer Wilson was justified in shooting Mike Brown at least six times? 

Unless you believe that it is justified to shoot people based on "what kind of person" they are, then your appeal is, again, based mostly on emotion and possibly preconceived ideas about what kind of a city Ferguson is and what you think is best for the people who live in Ferguson.

Shooting perceived undesirable without a trial is at odds with American political culture, and while I, like most of us here, have not been very satisfied with our political establishment for the last few decades, I hope that many of us can agree that America has many outstanding elements within its political culture and in the Constitution.  For example, I am a supporter of Amendments IV, V, VI, and XIII because they keep the power of the government in check when arresting, trying, and punishing suspected criminals. These legal protections are part of what has lead to a reasonably orderly society, compared to many others, for a couple of hundred years while still allowing for a great deal of freedom, again, in comparison to other countries.

While the circumstances of the shooting are related to the QuickTrip video you shared, that video alone does not provide enough evidence to conclude that officer Wilson was justified in shooting Mike Brown. 

Of course it turns my stomach to see Big Mike using his size to abuse the store clerk and commit strongarm robbery in the video.  But also turns my stomach to imagine an armed police officer shooting an unarmed 18 year old 6 times.  There better be a darn good reason for officer Wilson to have done this, and he does not get a free pass because Brown committed a strongarm robbery to steal cigars, especially b/c it is not even clear yet if Wilson knew about that.

The video is circumstantial evidence, and can only be one part of the answer to the question of was Officer Wilson justified.  It seems that you have made up your mind; if you have not, then please tell us what other factors we need to know in order to find Officer Wilson either justified or unjustified, as right now your approach continues to be based on emotional appeal.  Since everyone's view of this incident is likely to be more or less clouded by emotion, we need more than emotional appeal to know if Wilson was justified or not.

If you condone someone's shooting based on circumstantial evidence then it seems to me that you are saying that the end justifies the means.  That's not a road we want to go down, I hope, and it is certainly not a road that you seem to advocate in the majority of your posts, which have a high moral standard, especially when it comes to the appropriate role of the government in society.

In closing, compare the emotional appeal of the video to several paragraphs of text regarding this.  Someone who comes to PP and doesn't have the time or interest in reading the longer posts of Ready, Tom, Aaron, you, me, and others may still take the time to watch the video, and very quickly his or her emotions are likely to have been engaged against Mike Brown and for Darren Wilson, in spite of the circumstantial nature of this piece of evidence.

In the language of Kahneman, Tversky, and Ariely's psychology of judgment (including behavioral economics), the video engages our fast thinking (a.k.a. System 1) and the viewer is likely to replace a harder question with an easier one.  In this case, it seems that you are substituting an easier question:

Was Mike Brown an aggressive and unlikable person?

for the harder, but more relevant, question:

Was officer Wilson justified in shooting Mike Brown 6 times?

In spite of the different ways that we approach this question, as you already know, I very much appreciate most of your posts here, as well as your warmth, kindness and your affinity for hugelkulture. :) 

Cheers,

Hugh

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Was shooting Justified?

I agree with you Hugh. That is why my post was long winded above. Take all of that out of the situation. Doesn't matter if the kid was known gansta thug, the rules for the use of deadly force still stand. It doesn't matter if he was high as a kite with respect to use of deadly force. With that said if he was high and his judgment was impaired, he might of made some bad choices. He may have had anger issues, but we, nor did Wilson at the time know any of this. We still don't know this.(I'm just using it as an example.)  I'm just saying all of these things are irrelevant to the use of deadly force. They may explain some things afterwards, but in the heat of the moment they are irrelevant. The application of deadly force is pretty cut an dried. Are certain conditions being met? Yes or No. Or what we called Go/No Go in the Army. Read my post above on criteria to use deadly force. This is also taught those of us who have concealed carry permits. These conditions must all have a GO before deadly force can be used. If not then you are subject to prosecution if you use your firearm against someone. COPS included.

 

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HughK

If it went down like described in post 20, and is proven by some means satisfactory to you

Was officer Wilson justified in shooting Mike Brown 6 times?

Based on your writings, it sounds as if you would never find justification. Do I have that right?

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I also am worried about abuse of police power

I am also very worried about drifting into a police state and the demonstrated and potential abuses of the power of "a badge and a gun."  And I agree with all above posters that we need to hold clear standards about who can shoot whom and when and why.

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Misunderstood.

If it went down like in post 20, then yes Officer Wilson IS justified IMO. The number of shots is irrelevant. 6 or 60. Whatever it takes to STOP someone. When they stop aggression, you stop shooting and continue to control the situation. I was just pointing out the requirements to using deadly force. They are strict, but are well thought out.

I know some people say why did he have shoot him 6 times? That's probably what it took to take the fight out of Brown, if he was rushing Wilson. If he was submissive then Wilson is in trouble. 

I'm going to make an assumption that Wilson had a Semi-Automatic pistol that carried 15 or 16 rounds and not a revolver, which usually carries 6 rounds. (This is most common) I'm also going to assume (BIG assumption here) that it was 9 mm. (Some departments carry .40 or .45) I could see it taking several well places 9 mm rounds stopping a man the size of Brown. Four of the six hit Brown in the arm, hence not well placed for taking the fight out of someone that is angry and moving toward you. (If this is in fact what happened) If they are on some type of drug that short circuits the nervous system, then you may have to hit something vital for them to stop. Only when they don't have enough oxygen going to their muscles or electrical impulses from their brain cease and their muscles stop, do they stop fighting. 

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No, we are on the same page.

Bheithir,

You were not misunderstood by me, in fact we are in complete agreement. That post was meant for another. Evidence is emerging constantly, such as marijuana found in Brown's system (full toxicology 2 weeks out). Things like the video Sandpuppy posted, and other "stuff" that is giving us a better overall picture of who we are dealing with here. But none of that matters at all in terms of the legality of this shooting. You stated that very well, and I am in complete agreement.

While I was on the fence before, there are enough bits and pieces being released that I am now leaning towards the idea that the officer was being attacked and responded in a manner he perceived as necessary to save his own life. However, the best thing to do at this point is to wait for the investigation to run it's course and save judgments for then.

My concern is that many folks out there will never accept anything other than the officer in question to be sentenced and hanged, regardless of the actual facts. I hope I am wrong, but I don't think I am.

PS - I think you are correct in your assumptions, a few years ago standard issue was G17, and I do not believe that has changed. I will attempt to verify this.

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The jury is still out, Ready
Ready wrote:

If it went down like described in post 20, and is proven by some means satisfactory to you

Was officer Wilson justified in shooting Mike Brown 6 times?

Based on your writings, it sounds as if you would never find justification. Do I have that right?

Hi Ready,

Fair question, as I am clearly advocating for a high burden of evidence that would suggest that Officer Wilson was justified, just as others have advocated for us to be careful in assuming that he was not justified.

So far, we don't have good evidence showing that the testimony that you linked up above in comment 20 is true.  It's based on an anonymous source and was printed in tellmenow.com If you look at the top few stories found on tellmenow's home page, it seems pretty clear that this is a website which has a big focus on finding fault with the black underclass.  Based on some of the resources on racism that you shared earlier, Ready, I doubt that you would concur with the spin that tellmenow seems to be going for.

So, as we don't have all of the facts this is a great time for me, and the rest of us, to set up some criteria by which we can agree if Wilson was or was not justified.  I would agree that Wilson was justified if we have strong evidence of the following.  

But, Aaron and Tom, please help out here.  As I said before, you guys know a lot more than I do about when it's permissible for police officers to shoot people until they are dead (aka use deadly force).

Hugh's criteria for determining that Wilson's actions were within legal and regulatory bounds:

-reliable, reasonably unbiased eye witness testimony that Mike Brown attacked Wilson in his car and that he had later, once at a distance, decided to rush towards Wilson

-gunpowder on Mike Brown's clothes, suggesting firing at close range consistent with Wilson being in danger (I don't know if there is an possibility of police tampering with the evidence of his clothes.  My inclination is to think that this is possible, so if we can learn more about whether or not tampering was possible and or likely once we have a report regarding gunpowder on Brown's clothes, it would be helpful.)

-other evidence from the autopsy, police reports, or other investigations that indicate that Mike Wilson had indeed attacked Wilson and that Wilson's life was in danger, in spite of the fact that Wilson was an armed and trained 28 year old police officer who shot an unarmed and untrained 18 year old.

So, Ready, I am not of the view that there is no amount of evidence that could show that Wilson was justified based on the law and regulations.  If that were the case, I would be letting my concerns and beliefs trump the evidence.  I would be interested to know what evidence that you would need to find Wilson's actions justified under the law and regs.

I have set forth the criteria, because that's probably the best way to test my concerns and beliefs against reality, however difficult that is to discern, as I don't know how much good evidence we are going to get.  If we don't get conclusive evidence, then we are probably best off if we all admit that we don't know if Wilson was justified or not.

In other words, like many people in America, I am concerned that Wilson was not justified, but I realize that it's quite possible that my suspicion is incorrect and that I can't really know if he was or was not at present.

Cheers,

Hugh

P.S. Aaron's point - namely that even if Wilson was justified according to law and regulations, there was probably a better way to handle this situation that would have produced fewer negative consequences - is a great one, and very pragmatic.

P.P.S. I would not consider testing positive for marijuana as evidence that Wilson was justified in shooting Brown.  I saw a pretty sizeable amount of marijuana be smoked during my years as a whitewater kayaker, and many champion freestyle kayakers and snowboarders smoke marijuana.  It never seemed to cause violent behavior, in my experience.  Also, marijuana stays in one's system for about 30 days, so it's a very easy drug to test for, in spite of being among the least powerful of illegal drugs.

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fair enough

That particular website is only regurgitating the caller's words on the Dana show - talk radio. It is all over the internet, and it just happened to be the 3rd website I found that had it, and it was quick to link and had the text rather than the video or audio. I'll do better to use proper sources in the future. Here are a couple, but there are literally dozens. 

http://danaloeschradio.com/alleged-friend-of-officer-darren-wilson-offer...

http://www.inquisitr.com/1417628/ferguson-cops-side-of-michael-brown-sho...

And this has been confirmed by "someone close to the investigation" that this is in fact what Wilson told them as his side of the story. Saw that on the news, sorry I don't have a link handy.

We are also getting new reports that confirm this story by at least one eyewitness. This is all over the net as well, but I'll provide a couple links, and urge you to seek it out personally if you do not like these particular sources. Information is coming in floods and it is hard to keep up.

http://downtrend.com/vsaxena/new-game-changing-evidence-brown-doubled-ba...

http://www.truthrevolt.org/news/cnn-reports-officer-wilsons-account-mich...

 

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HughK wrote: P.P.S. I would
HughK wrote:

P.P.S. I would not consider testing positive for marijuana as evidence that Wilson was justified in shooting Brown.  I saw a pretty sizeable amount of marijuana be smoked during my years as a whitewater kayaker, and many champion freestyle kayakers and snowboarders smoke marijuana.  It never seemed to cause violent behavior, in my experience.  Also, marijuana stays in one's system for about 30 days, so it's a very easy drug to test for, in spite of being among the least powerful of illegal drugs.

 

Sorry, you edited that in while I was replying.

The point I am trying to make is that is IRRELEVANT. As is the video of him during the strongarm burglary. Wilson can only react to the situation as it is currently presenting itself, and the other stuff we learn later can only help us to understand some possible reasons, but has no bearing whatsoever on the legality of using deadly force.

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Family's autopsy results

Dr. Baden's autopsy shed some light, but I was frustrated he couldn't be more definitive in some respects.

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/08/18/us/michael-brown-autopsy-shows-he-was-shot-at-least-6-times.html?_r=0

1.  Brown was shot "about" 6 times but "probably" not shot from behind.  The graze wound just above the right elbow was the wound which theoretically could've been fired from a number of directions depending on the position of Brown's arm and elbow when hit. On the street, I sometimes can't tell entry from exit wounds, nor be sure how many bullets caused the wounds because of the entry/re-entry issue.  However, I was disappointed Dr. Baden couldn't be sure either (pending more study of Xrays, etc.)!

2.  The wound to the top of Brown's head was an instant stopper.  If he was shot after that it was as he was falling or after he fell face down.  It seems to be fair to conclude that that wound was the last he incurred, though Officer Wilson may have fired more shots that completely missed.  Since Brown fell forward and face down, it strains all credulity to think any of those other wounds were inflicted while he was face down on the ground.  The second head shot though seems to have entered, exited and re-entered (and possibility re-exited).  My layman's mind allows that that shot, if fired within .25 - .50 of a second after the first one might have hit Brown in the split second as he fell causing the unusual trajectory.  Dr. Baden's statement didn't determine which of the head shots preceded the other.  We can only guess about the range of possibilities.

3. The other 4 shots that hit Brown were poorly placed if the shooter was trying to stop an aggressive attack.  They most likely would not have dissuaded a determined attacker and there was nothing about them that would have made attacking impossible or even moderately difficult.  If Officer Wilson was shooting to stop an attack that reasonably seemed to him to threaten his life, those 4 shots would have had little to no effect.  Officer Wilson might have not noticed any effect of those 4 peripheral shots IF Brown was charging him aggressively.  If you imagine Officer Wilson might also have fired shots that missed Brown altogether, then you might begin to imagine how terrified Officer Wilson was: He was frightened enough to shoot someone for the first time in his life, and the shots didn't seem to be having any effect (BECAUSE HE'S MISSING!).  So this goes to the question: Did Officer Wilson have to shoot Brown six times?  I don't know if Officer Wilson was legally justified in shooting Mike Brown even one time, but I do know that Officer Wilson HAD to shoot Brown 6 times because the first 5 hits (and any additional misses) did not stop Brown.  Police are also trained to go for the adversary's head or pelvis if shots to center mass don't stop an attacker.  This is because some attackers wear body armor and if hit center mass will not be stopped.  Shooting for the head or pelvis is taught because body armor doesn't cover those areas, and head and pelvis shots are usually good at stopping an adversary (though harder to hit because they're smaller than the center of the body).  Perhaps Officer Wilson, after firing 4 or more shots at what he thought was Mike Brown's center of mass and seeing no significant effect, reverted to his training and fired two shots at his head.

4. Dr. Baden did not observe gunpowder residue on the skin of Brown.  He was unable to examine Brown's clothing where some residue might have been deposited.  I await the expert opinion on the gunpowder residue issue, especially as it pertains to that last shot to the top of Brown's head.  I assume the 6th shot (to the top of Brown's head) would have been at the closest range (assuming Brown was charging Officer Wilson) so that is where I would most expect to find gunpowder residue.  Again, I'm leaving that to the experts.

5. I'm eagerly waiting to hear how many shots Officer Wilson actually fired (hits and misses). 

Tom

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Thanks Tom

One question - I understand no power on skin since it was beneath clothing, but wouldn't hair be easily tested for residue? 

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Time to have this discussion...

Regardless of whether Wilson was or was not justified in shooting young Mr. Brown, it is well past time to have a national dialog about the growing militarization, aggressiveness, and increasingly abusive behavior of the police forces in America.

Even if Wilson was 100% justified and every single shot was justified, the anger and resentment on display tell us that we have a major problem on our hands.

Some of the cases that have come to light since the shooting have been especially disturbing to me, such as this one:

What I Did After Police Killed My Son

Aug 15, 2014

After police in Kenosha, Wis., shot my 21-year-old son to death outside his house ten years ago — and then immediately cleared themselves of all wrongdoing — an African-American man approached me and said: “If they can shoot a white boy like a dog, imagine what we’ve been going through.”

I could imagine it all too easily, just as the rest of the country has been seeing it all too clearly in the terrible images coming from Ferguson, Mo., in the aftermath of the killing of Michael Brown. On Friday, after a week of angry protests, the police in Ferguson finally identified the officer implicated in Brown's shooting, although the circumstances still remain unclear.

I have known the name of the policeman who killed my son, Michael, for ten years. And he is still working on the force in Kenosha.

I got the phone call at 2 a.m. on Nov. 9, 2004. It was my oldest daughter. She said you need to come to the hospital right away, Michael’s been shot by the police. My first gut reaction was, “Michael doesn’t do anything serious enough to get shot by a police officer.” I thought he’d gotten shot in the leg or whatever. When I arrived, I saw the district attorney huddled with about five police officers. The last time I saw my son alive he was on a gurney, with his head wrapped in a big towel and blood coming out of it. I learned that an officer had put his gun up directly to Michael’s right temple and misfired, then did it again, and shot him.

Yes, there is good reason to think that many of these unjustifiable homicides by police across the country are racially motivated. But there is a lot more than that going on here. Our country is simply not paying enough attention to the terrible lack of accountability of police departments and the way it affects all of us—regardless of race or ethnicity. Because if a blond-haired, blue-eyed boy — that was my son, Michael — can be shot in the head under a street light with his hands cuffed behind his back, in front of five eyewitnesses (including his mother and sister), and his father was a retired Air Force lieutenant colonel who flew in three wars for his country — that’s me — and I still couldn’t get anything done about it, then Joe the plumber and Javier the roofer aren’t going to be able to do anything about it either.

From the beginning I cautioned patience, though Michael’s mother and sister were in an uproar. They had watched him get shot. But as an Air Force officer and pilot I knew the way safety investigations are conducted, and I was thinking that this was going to be conducted this way. Yet within 48 hours I got the message: The police had cleared themselves of all wrongdoing. In 48 hours! They hadn’t even taken statements from several eyewitnesses. Crime lab reports showed that my son’s DNA or fingerprints were not on any gun or holster, even though one of the police officers involved in Michael’s shooting had claimed that Michael had grabbed his gun.

The officer who killed my son, Albert Gonzalez, is not only still on the force ten years later, he is also a licensed concealed-gun instructor across the state line in Illinois.

*Sigh*  What a heart breaking story.

I simply cannot imagine the having the forbearance of that father. If an officer had mistakenly assumed my handcuffed son had reached for his gun (somehow?) and shot him to death in front of my wife and daughter, after correcting for a misfire (giving him time to re-think his actions), I would have been uncontrollable.

And then to have the DA clear the whole episode in 48 hours?

Bad things might have resulted. For certain that DA would have been a major target for removal from office and the law profession entirely, and the officer would not work a single day in my town for the rest of his career) without being heavily reminded of his act of murder.

But the larger point, besides my own personal grief, would have been around the very fact that police are routinely allowed to commit gross acts of negligence that sometimes elevates to outright murder and virtually nothing is ever done to them it seems.

Even the ones that are fired end up in another department for reasons that entirely escape me.

Continuing in the article, we find this gem:

In 129 years since police and fire commissions were created in the state of Wisconsin, we could not find a single ruling by a police department, an inquest or a police commission that a shooting was unjustified.

The problem over many decades, in other words, was a near-total lack of accountability for wrongdoing; and if police on duty believe they can get away with almost anything, they will act accordingly. As a military pilot, I knew that if law professionals investigated police-related deaths like, say, the way that the National Transportation Safety Board investigated aviation mishaps, police-related deaths would be at an all time low.

And so, together with other families who lost loved ones, I launched a campaign in the Wisconsin legislature calling for a new law that would require outside review of all deaths in police custody.

I contacted everybody I could. In the beginning, I contacted the governor’s office, the attorney general and the U.S. attorney for Wisconsin. They didn’t even return my phone calls or letters. I even contacted Oprah, every Associated Press bureau in the nation, every national magazine and national news agency and didn’t hear a word.

Wow. A 129 years of investigating police shootings in Wisconsin and not one record of one of them being ruled as unjustified.  Again, major kudos to that father for his persistence and calm approach to his personal tragedy.

So imagine if your life was ruled by this system. One where routine abuse, shootings, prison and even death are just part of the daily experience. Poor people and minorities have a view on the matter that goes well beyond what my own lily white complexion affords. 

Well, as one doctor told me 'people don't sue outcomes, they sue relationships' meaning that malpractice suits were really more indicative of crappy bedside manners and a general lack of caring than the actual results of an allegedly botched medical procedure.

People sue relationships, not outcomes.

The people of Ferguson are expressing their extreme displeasure at how they've been treated over time, not necessarily this particular shooting.

As time has marched along we've learned plenty of interesting and discouraging things about the Ferguson police department and they seem to be suffering from having a really ignorant and not terribly intelligent Chief among other problems.

So let's have that discussion about police methods and abuses and an associated legal system that protects them by applying a far more lenient standard when it comes to the use of force than any citizen could ever hope for.

Heck, if you're a 'dirty hippie' Occupy Wall Street protestor and just react to your breast being grabbed from behind, but that hand belongs to a police officer and he ends up with a bloody nose, it's off to jail for you:

Occupy Wall Street Protester Cecily McMillan Sentenced To Three Months In Jail

NEW YORK -- A New York City judge sentenced Occupy Wall Street protester Cecily McMillan on Monday to three months in jail and five years of probation for elbowing a police officer while he was clearing out a protest in Zuccotti Park.

Judge Ronald Zweibel's decision comes at the end of a trial that sparked widespread anger among Occupy supporters for the circumstances under which McMillan was convicted of second-degree assault.

They said McMillan, a graduate student who's now 25 years old, was simply reacting to an unknown hand grabbing her breast while visiting a March 2012 protest. Officer Grantley Bovell, not McMillan, they said, should have been on trial.

Such double standards are corrosive and infuriating and eventually you get to the point where neither the public nor the police respect each other and then it's just one failure after another from there.

But after all I've recently learned, I am actively teaching my children to never call the cops if/when they have a situation involving an emotionally disturbed or mentally unbalanced friend (or even someone experiencing a medical emergency like a diabetic incidence), to submit to any and all police commands immediately no matter how seemingly wrong or illogical, and to never willingly allow entry or a search of any personal items such as cars, backpacks, or the house.

Sadly, that's what all this has come to...even though I am lily white and have very little to gripe about, my trust is pretty much shot here after the things I've been reading this past week.

To rebuild that trust would require new transparent processes to assure that police do not just up hold the laws, but follow them and obey them with the exact same consequences as regular citizens.

 

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And Now You Know Why We Will Never Turn Them In

This is exactly the natural flow of events that leads to "repeated injuries and usurpations" that the signers of the Declaration of Independence referred to just before they started fighting back.  

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Facts?

I am going to wait to see the facts in this case before commenting. 

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Time To Have This Discussion....

Agreed Chris. I have commented extensively above on what could have been justification for Officer Wilson. Hopefully time will tell what happened. As for the issue of militarization of LEO, it has caused me great concern. What we saw in the aftermath of the shooting was Bully Tactics. Should people loot and burn? No, but when you show up  in what we called "Full Battle Rattle" in the Army with armored vehicles and someone manning a machine gun on top of it, you are trying to intimidate the opposing group. Or to be more blunt bully them into submission. There is force continuum when dealing with an adversary, and this clearly escalated and inflamed those who were in their minds already tired of being bullied. What were the Police thinking? If that machine gun would have been employed, many casualties would have ensued. 

Then to arrest two journalists and tear gas another crew on one day and arrest another journalist on another day, is boarding on Fascist behavior. I know Fascist is a hot button word, but if you examine the core of Fascism, it applies to this whole policing ideology. LEO says to move along, even if you have every right to not move along and aren't interfering with an LEO activity, you are subject to arrest. What charges you may ask? Whatever they come up with. This is why in some circles they are called "Jack Booted Thugs, or JBT's." Not all police are bad, but an attitude of US vs THEM is prevalent in many LEO departments. This in itself is very divisive and dangerous to the general public.

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eye witnesses

I've read the entire thread, but my memory not being what it never was, I may not have remembered all the facts.  So, feel free to correct me.

Although there has been discussion of questionable blog third person accounts of what friends of Officer Wilson said, I don't recall discussion of the actual eye witness accounts of the shooting, at least three of which have been recorded and are consistent with each other.  For some reason I don't seem to be able to copy links to those interviews, but if you google 'eye witness interview Ferguson' they pop up. 

Now, why would those obscure blog entries have more weight on this thread than eye witness accounts?  Tom asked the relevant questions in post #12, all of which seem to be answered by eye witness accounts.  Now, one of the interviewees was Brown's companion at the time, so it is reasonable to question his veracity, but the other two claim they didn't know Brown and had no reason to make stuff up.  Plus, those consistent accounts appear a lot more credible than the account in post 20.

I agree with Chris's statement that it is past time to discuss the militarization, aggressiveness and abusive behavior of police, with the stipulation that the abusive part has been going on for a long time.  Remember "Bull Connors"?  Being "lily white" and solidly middle class Chris probably hasn't seen much of it, but those of us who didn't grow up with that kind of privilege have seen it our whole lives, and if you happen to be black, it is much more pronounced.  That is really the point that has to be discussed if you want to talk about police abuse.  And, it is precisely the point of what is going on in Ferguson.  No matter what you think of Brown's character, shoving a little guy around and robbing him of a box of cigars does not warrant a death sentence, just as the guy selling loose cigarettes in NYC didn't deserve to die.  These are just examples of what police have been doing for a long time but is only now coming to public attention because of the ubiquity of video technology.  It's an issue for everyone, but most particularly African Americans.

Doug

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2 eyewitness interviews

Thanks for the pointer to these two interviews, Doug.

http://www.ksdk.com/story/news/local/2014/08/13/dorian-johnson-michael-b...

 

"It was around 1:40, two o'clock. We were walking down the street, empty street. We were just walking down, minding our business. We're both headed home, and the officer's approaching us, and as he pulled up on the side of us, he didn't say 'freeze,' 'halt,' or nothing like we were committing a crime. He said, 'Get the f*** on the sidewalk!' I told the officer we were not but a minute away from the destination.

"He never once attempted to grab for this officer's weapon."
"The first car I see, I ducked behind for cover because I feared for my life. I'm scared. I don't know what's going on. I don't understand why this officer is shooting his weapon at us."
"My friend stopped running, his hands went immediately in the air and he turned around towards the officer, face-to-face. He started to tell the officer he was unarmed and that you should stop shooting me. Before he can get his second sentence out, the officer fired several more shots into his head and chest areas."
"It was definitely like being shot like an animal. It was almost putting someone execution."

http://www.msnbc.com/msnbc/st-louis-official-reporters-arrested-ferguson...

A new witness to the killing of Michael Brown emerged Thursday, corroborating major details offered by the earlier witness, Dorian Johnson. Both described the initial interaction between the 18-year-old and the officer as a tug-of-war in which the officer grabbed the teenager as Brown tried to free himself from the officer’s grip through a car window.

In an interview with msnbc’s Lawrence O’Donnell, Tiffany Mitchell described hearing tires squeak and seeing “Michael and the officer wrestling through the [car] window.” Brown, she said, was struggling to get away while the officer continued to try to pull him closer. Concerned, Mitchell pulled out her phone, at which point she said the first shot was fired “through the window.” Mitchell then saw Brown break away from the officer’s grip and run down the street from the police vehicle.

“The officer gets out of his vehicle,” Mitchell said, “and he pursues him,” continuing to shoot at Brown. “Michael’s body jerks as if he was hit,” Mitchell explained, “and then he put his hands up,” and the officer continued to shoot at Brown until the teenager collapsed “all the way down to the ground.”

-------------------

Another article reports the verbal account by the same person, Tiffany Mitchell.

Tiffany Mitchell, 27, said she did not see what led up to the shooting, but said she arrived right before the fatal shots were fired.
“As I was coming around, I heard the tires squeaking on the truck, and as I get closer, I see them tussling through the window. The kid was pulling off and the cop was pulling in,” Mitchell said.
Mitchell told News 4 she saw a door closed on a police car. An officer was inside and Brown, Jr. was on the outside. She said the two were arm wrestling through the car window. Mitchell said she then tried to pull out her phone to record. Shots then rang out.
“It just didn’t look right for them to be arm wrestling,” Mitchell said. “The first gun shot came from the window, so I just started getting out of the way.”
According to Mitchell, Brown, Jr, began to run away after the first shot was fired.
“After the shot, the kid just breaks away. The cop follows him, kept shooting, the kid’s body jerked as if he was hit. After his body jerked he turns around, puts his hands up, and the cop continues to walk up on him and continues to shoot until he goes all the way down,” Mitchell said.

Well this changes my impression.

Doug, can you find for us the third witness?

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Doug wrote: Although there
Doug wrote:

Although there has been discussion of questionable blog third person accounts of what friends of Officer Wilson said, I don't recall discussion of the actual eye witness accounts of the shooting, at least three of which have been recorded and are consistent with each other.  For some reason I don't seem to be able to copy links to those interviews, but if you google 'eye witness interview Ferguson' they pop up. 

Now, why would those obscure blog entries have more weight on this thread than eye witness accounts?  Tom asked the relevant questions in post #12, all of which seem to be answered by eye witness accounts.  

In the absence of Wilson's side of the story directly from him (not gonna happen in an ongoing investigation), what we have to go on is the discussion on the Dana show (not an obscure blog) to hear the officer's side of the story. It may not be perfect, but it is the best we have right now.

Now take a look at the very next post (#13) at the first link provided by Tom. Another recorded eye witness account  - who did not know he was being recorded - that disputes the others and seems to corroborate what was discussed on the Dana show. This was taken minutes after the shooting before even the ambulance arrived.

We'd all like it to be cut and dried, but clearly it is not.

As far as how much weight to put on anything being reported, that is up to the individual. Personally I'd rather have more data points than less.

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Forensic evidence should able

Forensic evidence should able to tell the arm position when shot.  That and any video should point to what happened.  If Brown was running away, why didn't any bullets hit him in the back?  Eye witness testimony should not be relied on because of story twisting (did you do this in grade school?)

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better link to officer's story

This link may be better received, although I know CNN does not have the best name with many either. They do state that it has been vetted, but that is not ironclad either.

http://thelead.blogs.cnn.com/2014/08/18/officers-version-of-ferguson-sho...

Still just trying to piece this together...

In the meantime, we have another police shooting:

http://news.yahoo.com/city-edge-st-louis-police-shoot-kill-another-19154...

This is 3 miles away, and early reporting seems to imply that it was suicide by police. 

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Legal principles

Here's an article which gives some background on the law regarding the use of lethal force.  The law on lethal force in defense is the same for police and armed citizens, though the article seems to imply there are special laws that only apply to police.  Shooting a fleeing felon is one situation that does only apply to police, though Texas seems to allow armed citizens (i.e. non-sworn individuals) to shoot fleeing criminals. The special regulations that apply to police are their departments' written policies on use of force.  It is true that an officer who shoots an attacker can be legally exonerated but "prosecuted" by his/her department for policy violations.

http://www.vox.com/2014/8/13/5994305/michael-brown-case-investigation-legal-police-kill-force-murder/in/5757650

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Doug, can you find for us the third witness?

Her name is Piaget Crenshaw.  Again, I can't copy a link.

http://hotair.com/archives/2014/08/18/another-eyewitness-woman-comes-forward-with-footage-taken-immediately-after-the-michael-brown-shooting/

I copied it character by character.  Can't guarantee it will work.

Doug

 

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Unarmed burglar shot by family

Here's news of an unarmed burglar shot by victims/family members.

http://www.theburningplatform.com/2014/08/19/family-togetherness/

It is entirely possible the police investigation will be completed in 48 hours and the family members will not face criminal charges.  It's not relevant to the legal issues but the family are Hispanic and the attacker is white.

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Some levity

That illustrates why reporting cannot be trusted...

http://www.ijreview.com/2014/08/169042-reporters-clueless-tweet-made-int...

Cheers,

Aaron

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Piaget Crenshaw interview--3rd witness

2 brief interviews where she reports of what she saw happen:

http://uneditedpolitics.com/piaget-crenshaw-interviewed-by-anderson-coop...

and

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More news

Homeowner shoots (possibly unarmed) home invader who then leaves, drives 3 miles, and collapses. Apparently no charges against the homeowner.

Mother cornered in attic with nine year old twins shoots home invader six times. Home invader drives away. No charges for mother.

Renowned self-defense expert Massad Ayoob on the use of lethal force in defense against an unarmed attacker.

http://dailycaller.com/2013/10/16/massad-ayoob-fist-vs-gun-disparity-of-force-and-the-law/

 

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Knowing the Truth

I often despair of ever knowing the truth in situations like this shooting. Emotion clouds people’s perception. Bias and prejudice color the reactions of all sides to the point where we each come to believe things happened in a certain way and will not change that view in spite of any evidence presented. Eyewitness testimony has been proven to be often unreliable.  Forensics, thank god, can take some of the uncertainty out of the mix, but even forensic evidence can be open to various interpretations. It is often impossible to know exactly what happened in these situations and the participants are often the worse witnesses of all. The only thing that is certain is that the lives of the young man and the police officer, their families and friends, and in this case of a whole community, have been inexorably altered by the actions of a few moments.

While I mourn for everyone involved in this affair I am becoming concerned and angry over the continued militarization of our local police. I first took notice of this trend last year when the city of Boston was locked down on a sunny Saturday morning as a massive police presence searched for the Boston Marathon bombers.  For hours the television and internet ran scenes of police in full military gear, roaming the streets of Watertown with several types of assault vehicles.  They went door to door evacuating (forcing?) people out of their homes, searching those homes without warrants. They shut down all movement in a major metropolitan area to search for the two “terrorists”.  I live thirty miles outside of Boston and have frequented the city all my life.  The scenes that Saturday were totally unnerving.  There was massive paramilitary activity throughout the city while a million people were ordered to suspend their usual Saturday activities to hunker down in their homes. I watched in disbelief and kept saying to my wife, how many soldier police are there?  Where did they all come from so quickly? It felt as if I was participating in a made for television movie of an American coup d’etat.

I was further unraveled later in the summer when I learned that the police department of Concord, New Hampshire was planning to purchase a Bearcat armored vehicle with a federal grant.  There was dissent from a number of community members when the city council was asked to vote on the proposal.  According to media reports, the grant application, filed by the police chief, named, among others, the New Hampshire Free State Project as one of the terrorist organizations that justified the request for military gear and vehicles to aid local police. I subscribe online to the Free State Project. My name and email and probably my city address are in their data base. Unless they have a secret inner cell that is planning terrorism and sabotage, I know the group to be a loose band of libertarians. They think New Hampshire is one of the better places in the country to live if you wish to be removed from big government and excessive regulation.  Their stated goal is to have twenty-thousand libertarians move to New Hampshire in the hope of preserving and fostering the state’s independent sensibilities and way of life.  

I can hardly believe that police officials think they need to super arm themselves against the peaceful residents of New Hampshire. I am distraught at the thought that they would label a group whose wildest position is probably the legalization of marijuana as potential domestic terrorists.  

The police eventually won the argument with the city council. Several other New Hampshire towns have taken advantage of the grants and purchased the vehicles.    I guess I now live with the prospect of local police and county sheriffs rumbling down the dirt road to my north woods cabin in armored vehicles decked out in Iraq/Afghanistan type battle gear.

I can hardly wait to see what will happen the next time I try to purchase and airline ticket.  This is not my father’s America.

JT

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Joined: Dec 30 2008
Posts: 917
Wilson suffered an “orbital blowout fracture to the eye socket.”

More facts as time marches on.

My prediction: Wilson will be found justified and riots will intensify. I wish there were a way to make all this just stop. 

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