Officer Darren Wilson is innocent until he’s proven guilty. What I’m about to write is speculation on the course of events based on an account of the shooting of teenager Michael Brown provided by a woman named “Josie,” who phoned it in to The Dana Show on NewsTalk 97.1 KTFK [as above]. Josie claims her description came from Wilson himself. CNN said they checked her account with officers close to the investigation into the shooting. They decided that the testimony was close enough for rock and roll. With that said, let’s take a look at this incident and what may – I repeat may – have happened. Here’s Josie’s story [via mediatite.com] . . .
According to Josie, Officer Wilson was aware of the convenience store robbery and had flagged down Brown and his friend Dorian Johnson for walking in the middle of the street. When he realized the description on the police radio matched that of Brown, he pulled up near them to get out of the car. That’s when, as Josie told host Dana Loesch, Brown allegedly shoved the officer back into his cruiser and punched him in the face.
Josie alleged that Brown reached for Wilson’s gun and, at one point, had it completely turned against the officer’s hip. When the officer shoved the weapon away, it fired, she said.
Again, let’s assume that this description of events is mostly accurate. I say mostly because A) it’s second hand news B) the info comes from Officer Wilson (who no doubt casts the story in the most favorable light) and C) guns don’t fire unless someone pulls the trigger.
It’s that last fact that stands out – especially when you combine it with the virtual certainty that Officer Wilson’s firearm was secured in a Level II or III retention holster. It is highly unlikely that Brown was able to extract Wilson’s gun from his holster during the struggle. Brown punched Officer Wilson in the face. He probably would have fallen backwards.
You’ve got to wonder if, in fact, Brown reached into the car for Officer Wilson’s gun. Why would he? To disarm Officer Wilson? To kill him? Brown, eighteen-years-old at the time of his death, didn’t have a criminal record. (Some reports suggest Brown head a record that was sealed.) If he’d had a propensity for extreme violence, one would think he would have had a rap sheet.
The more logical explanation for the initial gunshot: Officer Wilson pulled his gun after Brown punched (shoved?) him. At that point, Brown may have grabbed for the gun, causing a struggle, resulting in a ballistic discharge.
This is no small point. If Officer Wilson drew his weapon on an unarmed man, even after being assaulted, even while being assaulted, he was clearly, legally in the wrong. Officer Wilson would have been responsible – on more than one level – for everything that happened subsequently.
Call that round one. Next up: round two.
“Michael takes off with his friend,” she continued. “And they get to be about 35 feet away.” Josie asserted that Wilson then followed police protocol by pursuing Brown and telling him to “freeze.” She claimed that Brown “started hounding” the officer, suggesting he wouldn’t actually fire the weapon at the teenagers.
The lethal threat is over. At that point, Officer Wilson should have holstered his firearm. It seems clear he didn’t. It also seems clear that Officer Wilson had his gun trained on the teen when he yelled “freeze.” While that’s standard operating procedure for police on TV, that’s not normal police protocol.
If nothing else, holding a firearm precludes the use of any other less-lethal or non-lethal weapon. Remember: Officer Wilson knew Brown was unarmed. And Brown was walking away. Brown did not pose an imminent threat of death or grievous bodily harm to Officer Wilson or other innocent life.
“All of the sudden, [Brown] just started to bum rush him,” Josie added. “He just started coming at him, full-speed, and so [Wilson] just started shooting, and [Brown] just kept coming.”
In many ways, the die was cast. Officer Wilson had seconds to make a decision. He already had a gun in his hand, probably pointed at Brown. Brown had indicated his belief that Wilson wouldn’t fire. Brown had already shown his willingness to use physical force. And Brown was BIG.
At this point, I’d like to point out that Brown used physical intimidation in the robbery before the shooting. The video above shows Brown leaving the scene of the crime – unmolested – and then doubling back to scare the owner. Past behavior is the best indicator of future performance. It’s entirely credible that Brown rushed Officer Wilson.
And more: “So [Wilson] really thinks [Brown] was on something, because he just kept coming. It was unbelievable. And so he finally ended up, the final shot was in the forehead, and then he fell about two to three feet in front of the officer.”
Gun guys know the score: one bullet into a person rushing towards you isn’t going to stop them – especially if there’s a lot of momentum (i.e. a big person). Officer Wilson kept shooting because that’s what he was trained to do.
Notice that the shots all landed left. Chances are Officer Wilson had too much finger on the trigger. Which reflects either poor training, low skill, high stress or some combination thereof. Not that it makes any difference, but one wonders how many shots Officer Wilson fired in total.
That’s one perspective on the Michael Brown shooting, using information which has not been independently or scientifically verified. But as long as we’re here, let me say this: I believe Officer Wilson was defending himself when he shot Michael Brown. Whether he should have put himself in that position, without viable alternatives, is another story. But it is the story of this shooting.