As of late last night, the grand jury presiding over the shooting death of Michael Brown, Jr., reached the conclusion to not charge Darren Wilson with criminal charges for the shooting death of Brown on Aug. 9, 2014.
For months, coverage of the case has been plastered over every news station in America, and the verdict has permanently made its home on American television screens and news networks for the night of Nov. 24, 2014. And it is my personal opinion, after reviewing the evidence for the case, that the grand jury has made the correct decision in not indicting Wilson with criminal charges.
The main reason for this belief is rooted in the scientific facts of the first autopsy report conducted by the St. Louis County Medical Examiner’s’ Office, which more accurately line up with Wilson’s account of what happened than do those of the people on Brown’s side. The following accounts were mainly corroborated from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, a Missouri newspaper which utilized public documents, as well as an unnamed source, to help build the accounts of both sides.
With this in mind, let us begin with Wilson’s account of the events that transpired that day.
The first autopsy report indicated that Brown was indeed shot six times—which lines up precisely with Wilson’s testimony of what happened that day. According to Wilson’s testimony, he first came upon Brown and his friend, Dorian Johnson, as they walked along Canfield Drive. After asking where they were going, with Johnson pointing in the direction past Wilson’s SUV, the pair continued walking. While Wilson pulled away, he noticed Johnson was dressed in a similar fashion to someone wanted for a local robbery. He pulled back, parked the SUV and called for backup. As he went to get out of the car, Brown, who had reportedly cursed at Wilson moments earlier, punched him through the open window.
With his other weapons not accessible, Wilson drew his gun and a struggle ensued, resulting in the gun discharging and hitting Brown in the hand area. According to the forensics reports, Brown’s hands were pointed downwards when this occurred, clearly indicating a non-surrender stance. The gun had reportedly been fired more than once, but Brown’s hand had blocked the hammer in the back preventing the gun from discharging.
After being shot, and with the struggle still ensuing, a second shot was fired, and Brown ran. Wilson, getting out of the SUV, chased Brown. Though Wilson did not remember saying anything, one can assume that Wilson ordered Brown to stop. Brown, according to Wilson, then stopped, turned and with his left hand pointing downwards and his right clutching his shirt, charged Wilson. Wilson fired, and Brown stopped. Wilson reportedly stopped shooting, but Brown then resumed his charge, where Wilson then fatally shot Brown in the head, at a trajectory that indicated that Brown was charging Wilson, matching up with autopsy reports.
The accounts of some eyewitnesses, who did not view the entire altercation, varied greatly. Some indicated Wilson chased Brown down, shot him in the head and repeatedly shot him in the back, although the autopsy report clearly indicates Brown suffered no wounds to his back. Others, like Johnson, claimed that Wilson pulled the SUV back, nearly side-swiping the duo, and then tried to open the door, where it bounced off of both Johnson and Wilson. He then grabbed Wilson by the throat through the SUV, then his arm, and tried to pull him into the SUV. Meanwhile, his gun was out and he shot Brown immediately before the altercation. While Brown was fleeing the SUV, Wilson chased him, shot him once, then killed him as he was reportedly surrendering in a hail of bullets.
The only thing that all eyewitnesses agreed upon was that Wilson had fired shots as Brown fled the SUV, which is believable from the perspective of both stories. But that is where the similarities end. Most eyewitness reports vary on whether Brown was walking towards Wilson, stumbled and fell, or just fell over and died. Many have reported that Brown’s hands were not raised when he turned. Others claimed they were. Some stated Wilson tried to grab Brown through the open SUV window. Others disagree. Ultimately, what can be made from all of this is that Darren Wilson, beyond the shadow of a doubt, killed Michael Brown, Jr.
However, I have multiple problems with the eyewitness accounts. Some “witnesses” were not there to actually witness the shooting and had reported what they had heard from friends and relatives. Even the eyewitnesses who actually saw what transpired had differing accounts of what happened. And, through it all, Wilson’s account of what happened, though probably without some fault, is the closest to what the autopsy report indicates. Which is rooted in proven, scientific facts, not some wild, crazy notion of a cop who decided to murder a teenager he passed on the street in cold blood simply due to the color of his skin, as many leaders of the Ferguson protests would have us believe.
And the thing that infuriates me about this whole case is how the media handled it. From day one, the media has tried to spin this entire debacle into a race issue. While elements of racial tension between whites and blacks, particularly between young black men and police officers, is undeniable, the media has had a field day with spinning this into a purely white-versus-black issue.
It is not. It is a human issue. At the end of the day, a young man lost his life to a tragic shooting. A young cop has his career, and most likely his mental health, ruined for life. And through it all, the only thing these major television networks care about is ratings, not about the young man whose life was ripped away from him and the other who will engage in his own personal Hell for years to come.
We as a nation could have endless arguments over what happened on that tragic August afternoon. We could have experts weigh in from every angle, on every gunpowder particle and every memory of those who witnessed the shooting. But ultimately, what truly happened on that fatal day will be known by Wilson, Brown and God alone.
I urge, no, plead, with the American people to let loose these shackles of ignorance and hatred. While the ethnic, economic and political divisions in our country may help give us a sense of identity, let us never forget that we are all, first and foremost, Americans.
And while I maintain Wilson’s innocence, it does not exclude a good, hard look at our justice system and ways we can help shape it to ensure more lives are not lost like that of Brown.
The only thing I can say with confidence is that I hope and pray that Wilson will find the strength to continue living his day-to-day life, that Brown’s family can find it in their hearts to come to peace with their son’s tragic passing and for true forgiveness for Wilson.