Ferguson Police's PR Stunt Poisons Independent and Impartial Investigation

The tragic killing of unarmed teenager Michael Brown by Officer Darren Wilson of the Ferguson Police Department has shocked his family, community, and the nation.

The public and the ACLU of Missouri have called for release of the police incident report on the shooting to resolve the dispute about whether the incident involved the excessive use of lethal force and illegal racial profiling, and to shed light on how many times and where on his body Mr. Brown was shot.

Instead of disclosing that information, the Ferguson Police Department today released approximately 30 seconds of surveillance footage and an offense/incident report concerning a reported shoplifting at a convenience store that police now alleged involved Brown about ten minutes before he was killed. Yet the Ferguson police chief's own statement undermines the relevance of those disclosures. The officer who shot Mr. Brown, according to the chief, was unaware that he may have been a suspect in the shoplifting and stopped him because he was walking down the middle of a street.

The Ferguson Police Department's actions appear misleading and remarkably cynical. They call into question the department's commitment to ensuring an independent and impartial investigation into the killing of Michael Brown. The video and incident report released are of dubious relevance. The decision to disclose them suggests an attempt to assassinate Mr. Brown's character by showing that he had roughly pushed a convenience store clerk on the day that he was killed. The one-sided and piecemeal disclosure of potentially irrelevant and prejudicial information, while continuing to withhold the critical police incident report that the public has demanded, suggests a desire to confuse rather than to shine a light on what happened.

Mr. Brown's family and the public deserve better. The Ferguson police's disclosures seem more like spin control than objective investigation. The department's apparent attempts to impugn the character of a shooting victim while withholding potentially revealing information about the conduct of its own police officer makes a mockery of the concepts of fairness and impartiality.

Therefore, the ACLU calls for an independent and comprehensive federal investigation by the Department of Justice of the fatal shooting of Michael Brown. Without this, there can be no justice for the Brown family or honest conversation about excessive force, racialized policing, law enforcement accountability and transparency, and the kinds of systemic reforms that are critically needed to ensure fair and effective policing in Ferguson and throughout our country.

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Anonymous

It's not hard to believe that the Ferguson police are being so catty and evasive about this. I hope and pray that the REAL truth will be available soon.

Lawrence Haun

While I agree that the Ferguson and St. Louis County police departments have botched just about every aspect of this incident and its aftermath, I disagree that information about the alleged robbery is irrelevant. Even if it's true that Officer Wilson was unaware of any connection between Brown and the reported robbery, BROWN was certainly aware of that connection and would have assumed that Wilson was stopping him as a robbery suspect. Brown's assumption would have colored Brown's interactions with Wilson and may have been the cause of the "scuffle" that the police chief contends led to the fatal shooting.

The Ferguson police chief should have explained how the robbery and shooting were thus connected. (That said, the police chief’s primary motive in releasing the surveillance video still could have been to darken Brown’s image as an innocent victim.)

Something also of relevance is Brown’s height and weight, which I haven’t heard anyone discuss. In the convenience store video, he appears to be a very large man. If so, while it would certainly not excuse, it could explain why Wilson may have felt particularly threatened during his encounter with Brown.

The most troubling aspect of this case remains, however, the number of shots fired, a fact which the police department has refused to disclose. Assuming that the police explanation of a scuffle and scramble for possession of the officer's gun is accurate, it would explain the first shot, but not a subsequent volley after Brown and Wilson had separated. According to witnesses, it was a subsequent volley that killed Brown.

Elijah

Sir
Good morning. I do not wish to incite any emotions but I do have the information about events leading from the store to the to the point right before the first shot. I searched for an unbiased site for over 10 hours to share with. Your site states unbiased but your depiction of the same timeline is flawed. I will disclose that I am a 50 year old white male. I have no connection to anyone in Ferguson. The reason I am sharing is to provide everyone the truth through your site. If there are portions that are unpopular with the police department or the community I do not care, I will give you the real story not something that will win a popularity contest. If you want it, it's yours. All you need to do is remove what you got. I believe you made your best attempt to paint the picture but there are pieces that are plain incorrect . Wouldn't you rather to be the first one with the truth. If not I'll take it somewhere else .

RRobertss

That ACLU. Always standing up for the rights of the people that it agrees with. Too bad that is only a portion of the American population.

Anonymous

Is it not also true that in the video, the person the police say is Mike Brown is wearing lemon yellow shoes... At the shooting, was not Mike Brown wearing red shoes?

Anonymous

I agree with everything about this petition except the idea that only minorities are being targeted. What follows is a response I sent to Mark Steyn's op-ed about Ferguson.

Your comments about Ferguson are right on, and I hope they will lead to some real reforms, but I doubt it will happen yet -- the left (except blacks) still don't yet see that there's a problem, and blacks think it affects only them.

This is part of a larger problem, which you hinted at in your first paragraph: Today's American police have declared war on the people they're supposed to be working for. That extends far beyond unnecessary use of deadly force; their routine willingness to Tase people for arguing with them, to beat people up for running away, and to arrest people for taking video of them are all symptoms. A police officer has no business punishing anyone unless directly ordered to by a judge.

What the people urgently need is direct accountability -- the right to sue AND prosecute the individual officer AND his department, collect damages large enough to deter all these abuses, and have the officer jailed AND banned for life from being a police officer or even a guard anywhere ever again.

Until those rights are given to us -- which means constitutional change -- the perception that they and we are at war is simply going to have to go both ways. That means an end to all voluntary cooperation with the police; it may mean businesses refusing to serve them; it may even have to mean sending them on wild goose chases or sabotaging them, the way the French Resistance did to the Nazis when they could. Because when police go to war with us, they are, in effect, occupying foreign troops, whom we all have a moral duty to resist even if we're not capable of fighting straight-up battles against them.

John Locke said all this better than I can: when government goes to war against its own people, then revolution becomes necessary and justified.

As for Mr. Brown -- even if he committed a strong-arm robbery, as the video seems to show, that does NOT justify anyone, police or victim, shooting to kill. It is to deal with exactly that sort of situation -- NOT someone arguing -- that police have Tasers and tear gas. Why didn't they use those? Even if he charged them (as alleged by the officer), that still holds true.

Anonymous

I hate to say this but lets show the looting and burning and anarchy that black cause on a daily basis. There is no racial profiling in America. Only in the liberal mind. Racism exist mostly from people of color. White people bend over backwards to prove they are not racist.

Anonymous

Really messed up the "gentle giant" narrative now did it not? If I was the store owner I would have post that vid in about 10 seconds.

Anonymous

skin color, skin color, skin color uber alles

funny how nobody in the media thinks to mention the political orientation of all these characters. (of course, that would reflect poorly on the media's own political biases)

fixating on what is literally the most superficial aspect of humanity,
the pseudoscience of 'race' allows cover as the authoritarians (liberals) ratchet our chains ever tighter.

good job ACLU /s

Anonymous

Yes the stunt was a PR stunt, but it also blows holes in the narrative of the quiet young teen, shy and never in trouble, who was on his way to summer camp next week or a petting zoo or some such nonsense. Autopsy and audio witness corroborate story that Brown charged the officer.

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