I got a chance to go through all of the witness testimony the grand jury released (minus any embedded in the Grand Jury transcripts). I did this to see whether this was a clear cut case of a police murder or something more justified. Everything in here is taken from my notes, and I have linked numerous documents so you can read the originals. You can find the bulk of the documents linked from this page. You can also find the same on USA Today (which also includes public videos entered into evidence) and the New York Times site.
Below are a couple of maps of the area. The first was taken from the web and shows some locations. This is the map that gave me the idea to determine where people were.
And here is my graphic, taken from Google maps, with the locations of various witnesses marked (these are keyed by the same numbers shown in the post). NOTE: X in a box is where Michael Brown’s body was at the end of the altercation. The blue dot is where Officer Wilson’s car was stopped.
- Numbers are color coded per the description in the next section. Red are those that appear to be false (either outright lying or recollecting from false testimony) and orange are suspect in at least part of the testimony.
- I am not completely sure the order of witnesses 30, 34 and 40. Assume 30 to be closer as he states the cop was between him and the boy and 34 burned out, which would have been easier near the parking lot entrance. It is known both were in their approximate locations, just the ordering is suspect.
- The exact positions of 38 and 45 are also unknown, so I have placed them near the dumpster.
- Witness 44 started back a bit further and likely ended a bit closer than his marker, based on his testimony. The marker is an approximation of mid-point and good enough for this exercise (to see why examine discredited witnesses).
- I have no clue which apartment witness 57 heard the shooting from or which stop sign witness 64 was at. There are no stop signs at any street where a witness would have visibility to the shooting, at least not on the current views on Google maps.
- The question marks indicate where I think the witnesses were based more on testimony than their statement of location. In other words, they are educated guesses.
- The phone symbol is where one of the videos was shot that appears to fit Wilson’s side of the story. There is also one from Piaget Crenshaw (
witness 43 – correction on this; witness is male, Piaget’s location very close, however) and apparently one from witness 41, although I cannot find it.
NOTE: Prior to the incident, Wilson had gone to a call in the Sharondale apartments, northeast of the point of the altercation. This is on track 324, page 1 of the radio log. Wilson got a call of a “stealing” going on. The information on the suspect is on page 7 (track 358) of the radio log. On track 364, page 8, he puts himself back into service (10-8). He then asks 25 or 22 if they need assistance.
NOTE: The stealing info is interesting, as people have stated there is no way Wilson could have known about the shoplifting, as the owner had not called anything in.
Saw two black males walking down Canfield. He told them to get on the sidewalk and they said they were almost to their destination. He asked “but what’s wrong with the sidewalk” and they answered “fuck what you have to say”. Wilson then called in for backup (track 369, page 9) and backed up his vehicle. Officer 25 answers the call (log page 10, track 372).
After backing up about 10 feet, Wilson tries to open the door and Brown says “What the fuck you gonna do?” and shuts the door on him, leg out. He then tries to reopen the door, Brown says something, closes the door and starts punching through the window. The first blow is a glancing blow. Brown then hands the cigarillos to Johnson and hits him again. Wilson thinks of using his mace, but it is on the wrong side, so he grabs his gun and aims it at Brown, who puts his hand over the top of the gun and pushes it towards Wilson.
Wilson states a shot was fired in the car and Brown ran. He exits the vehicle, states “shots fired. Send me more cars”. Brown stopped, turned, made a grunting noise and the most aggressive face he had ever seen and then charged with his hands in his waistband. Wilson ordered him to stop and then fired multiple times. Wilson yelled at him to get on the ground again. Brown, still hand in waistband, charged Wilson, and Wilson fired until Brown went down. He was about 8-10 feet away at this time. He then called “send me every car we got and a supervisor”. About 15-20 seconds later, two marked cars show up and started blocking off everything.
Dorian Johnson Story
Dorian Johnson was the closest to Brown at the time of the initial contact.
These are taken in order of when they were interviewed. Closest to the event are usually more accurate, although this is not always the case. I have included markings to indicate which witnesses are not credible and explain the reasoning later.
* (asterisk) is used to indicate a witness I find not credible. red is used to indicate a witness that is likely lying or recollecting things rather than going by actual observations (I believe 2 are outright lying, while 2 are filling in way too many gaps), while orange is suspect, used for a witness that has some useful details, but some that are not likely to be true (either filled in some how (recollected?) or added due to personal feelings). Some of the witnesses in these categories state the shooting was execution style, while other take the other extreme, and some are in the middle.
Same day as shooting
* Witness 16 (8/9/2014 2:19 PM and 9/11/2014): Located approximately 150 feet from the police car in a third floor apartment (assume this was also 2973 Canfield Court instead of building next door, as she could not see where Brown was in the street from the other building). She heard a “skirr”, or car “screech” and looked out her bedroom window and saw Brown tussling with Wilson in the car. She then heard two shots, one which she assumes is the one that hit the building across the street, and saw officer Wilson get out of the car with a red face, which she assumed was from anger. She then moves from the bedroom to the living room and sees Michael Brown coming towards Wilson with his hands up, at his shoulders, and then shooting him at 2-3 yards. Under a second interview with the FBI, she describes getting her purse, then walking to the living room, then goes and gets her cell phone so she can record the scene (she has a video after the shooting that can be viewed) and then has to open the blinds in the living room. She then admits it took too long to get back and she only saw the tussle and then Brown laying in the street.
* Witness 43 (8/9/2014 4:12 PM): In father’s apartment, upstairs.Not sure where this apartment is, as the description does not get into location.
I believe this is Piaget Crenshaw. NOTE: She later mentions seeing Brown with his hands up, although that is missing from her initial testimony (she looked away) and she has a lot of details. Can confirm not Piaget from end of video.
She heard screaming from Brown as he was reaching into Wilson’s car. Wilson tried to taze Brown, but failed. He then pulled out his gun and tried to shoot Brown, but failed. Brown started running and he shot him in the back. She looked away, as she thought it was over, but then heard 4-5 more shots and went back to see Brown lying in the street.
Witness 12 (8/9/2014 (twice, first at 4:40 PM, second 4:45 PM), 8/13/2014 and at least 1 media interview): This is Michael Brady, based on testimony. Location, first floor at 2973 Canfield Court, approximately 150 feet from the police cruiser. He was located Heard an altercation and came to the window to see Brown and Wilson fighting through the window of the police cruiser (“arms goin’ through the window”). Heard 2 shots from in car and then Brown runs. Wilson then shoots two more shots (8/13/2014) or 6 shots (8/9/2014) or 3-4 shots (8/13/2014). Brown then turns around curled up and walks towards Wilson, with his hands “probably up” and Wilson shoots 3-4 more times (most interviews) or 4-5 times (MSNBC interview). Brady’s testimony is all over the place, but the main thread stays consistent. Later testimony seems more recollection than remembrance.
Witness 25 (8/9/2014 4:59 PM): In kitchen on phone when fiancée called him to the window. Saw Wilson waking after a running Brown shooting steadily at him. Brown then turned to Wilson and was shot 2-3 more times.
Witness 22 (8/9/2014 5:06 PM): Located in a third story apartment, not sure of exact location. Sleeping, but awakened by the first two shots (from inside the car?). Boyfriend told her to come to the window. Saw Brown grabbing stomach or side and Wilson just kept firing. Then saw Brown kneeling in the street with his hands up and Wilson shooting him 3 times.
Witness 32 (August 9, 2014 6:40 PM): In car right behind Wilson, about 10 feet behind, heading west on Canfield. Saw Brown and Johnson in the middle of the street walking towards. Wilson said something to him (assumed, not heard) and Brown tussled with him in the car and a shot rang out. Brown backed up and ran east on Canfield, past the witness, while Johnson tries to get in the car. Both Brown and Wilson pass by car and through rearview mirror sees Brown fall after 3 more shots. Then takes off quickly, driving partially over the grass.
Witness 40 (August 9th journal entry): Heading east on Canfield very close to scene (since states Johnson told him to leave after shooting, most likely either in front of or behind witness 34, putting him 5-15 feet from the police car). White person, evidenced by first line in journal entry stating “need to understand the black race better so I stop calling blacks n*******s and start calling them people.
Saw police car back up and almost hit Brown and Johnson. Brown hit the door and looked pissed. Saw Brown hit car door with belly (this fits Johnsons description of Wilson trying to open the door). Johnson hits mirror on police car. Saw Brown in the window and then saw Brown running. Wilson got out of car with his left hand on his face and right hand grabbing his gun. Wilson yelled something at Brown, although the witness could not hear it as other people were already yelling outside. Brown turned around at Wilson (“with attitude”) and started running at Wilson, head down, like a football player. Wilson shot 3 times, but Brown continued advancing. Wilson fired 2 more shots, and Brown backed up. Mentions Johnson told him to leave.
August (not same day)
Witness 10 (8/11/2014): Working in the building at 2973 Canfield Court – same building as witness 12 and 16); not sure of exact distance, as he was taking things in and out of the building (120-150 feet). Saw Brown wrestling with Wilson through the window of the car and a shot went off. Brown took off running (witness thought Wilson had been murdered). Brown turns and makes a movement and then starts charging Wilson. Wilson shoots 4-6 shots. Brown stops and Wilson stops firing. Brown then charges Wilson again and Wilson fires 4-5 more shots and Brown falls to the ground.
Witness 14 (8/12/2014 and 9/24/2014): Located in apartment that looks straight down Canfield towards West Florissant (same building as Witness 10, 12 & 16?). Saw two young men walking down street approached by police cruiser. Then saw Brown tussling with Wilson while he was still in the truck. Heard a shot and then saw Brown run 25-30 feet from the car. Wilson gets out about 3 seconds later and comes around car to passenger’s side. Yells “stop” at Brown. Brown takes 2-3 steps and was shot 2-3 times. Brown lifts hands to shoulder level (pleading?) with his palms out at his rib cage level, and continues to step forward. Wilson yells stop again and then “lets loose” on Brown.
Witness 30 (August 13, 2014): Was driving east on Canfield, heard 3-4 shots and saw Brown hit in the leg. Brown turned around and lifted at least one hand. Witness thought he had a gun. Wilson then shot Brown.
* Witness 35 (August 13, 2014): Located in 3rd floor window, nearest apartment building to Northwinds apartments (2909 Canfield Drive), which puts him more than 200 feet from where Brown ended up in the street and close to 300 feet from Wilson’s car. Witness self-described as Brown’s best friend and Johnson’s cousin. Says he was on the phone when the first shot rang out (missed fight in car). Ran to window and saw Brown on knees with blood rushing from shoulder or rib cage. He heard Brown tell Dorian to run for his life and then saw Wilson get out of his truck and shoot him in the head. At this time, Brown was no more than 5 feet from the police cruiser. Also mentions saw Brown shot 4 times, then heard him pleading for his life and saying “don’t shoot me”, heard 4 more shots as he ran downstairs to the scene. Stated Wilson shot his 10 times at close range.
* Witness 48 (8/14/2014, also phone call follow up): In the middle row of a van on Canfield turning left at a stop sign (had to be Coppercreek Road to be near a stop sign and able to see any of the altercation). This would put her at least 200 feet from the police car and farther from where Brown was shot. Heard 2 shots and then sees Brown run. Brown turns to Wilson and runs at him, hands balled up. Wilson yells stop at least three times. Wilson shoots three times, stops and then shoots Brown again.
Witness 46 (8/15/2014): In car heading east on Canfield. Pulled over for police car to pass, as he/she had an outstanding warrant for tickets. If the story is true (doubtful), he was right in front of the shooting location. He saw “two mens” talking to a cop (who just passed him not too long ago?). The boys were heading east, the cop was heading east. The cop then stuck his gun out the window and shot Brown, and ended up shooting about 2 shots. After the shooting stop, the witness got out of the car and asked Wilson if he could help and Wilson told him “get the f*ck on”.
* Witness 45 (8/16/2014): Was near the dumpster at 2973 Canfield Court (In front of Brady’s (witness 12) apartment), about 75-100 feet from police car. A police car with 2 officers approaches Brown and Johnson, drives off and then backs up and almost hits them. Brown then goes to the window “either to defend hisself or to give up”. Saw Wilson grab Brown by the collar and then the first shot rang out. Brown backed up with a blood spot on his shirt. Wilson fired the second shot as he started to run. Brown turns around and puts his arms up and Wilson guns him down. The second officer than gets out of the vehicle.
* Witness 44 (8/16/2014 and 9/25/2014): Walking on the south side of Canfield, near the leasing office. Approximately 150 feet from the police car. Saw Wilson back up the car, hitting Brown and Johnson and then Brown running around to the driver’s side of the car for about 15 seconds. Brown then fights Wilson through the window, while Johnson runs away. A shot rings out and Brown backs up and checks himself, and then runs away. The gun falls to the ground. Brown runs about 10-12 steps and then turns to face Wilson, who is now out of the car (number of steps changes a lot in the interviews). Brown puts his hands up like “I’m done” or “arrest me” and Wilson shoots him 7 or 8 times, 6 of them while Brown is backing up.
* Witness 42 (8/16/20148/16/2014):: In apartment on Canfield (very close to shooting, so most likely 2943 or 2947 Canfield. This would put him somewhere between 30-50 feet of where Michael Brown was shot, although some of the scene would have been obstructed depending on which apartment he was in.
He was on the phone when he heard the first shot (in the car?). Saw Wilson running after Brown and then shoot him in the back. Brown turned around and threw his hands in the air. Wilson unloaded his gun in Brown’s direction, unknown number of shots (“it was gruesome”). Shooting started about 20 feet apart, but ended with an execution style shooting with Brown on his knees (less than an arm’s length) while Michael Brown was saying “don’t shoot”. While Brown on the ground, he continued to shoot the body.
* Witness 38 (8/16/2014): Was near the dumpster at 2973 Canfield Court (In front of Brady’s (witness 12) apartment), about 75-100 feet from police car. Saw Wilson talking to Brown and Johnson. They move on and Wilson puts the car in front of them. The witness continues to the dumpster, but hears two shots. Thought it was just a warning shot, but then he heard another 6-7 shots. Ducked down and when he came back up the police were on the scene putting out crime scene tape.
* Witness 37 (8/18/2014): Driving east on Canfield, near leasing office, 125-150 feet from police car. When he came on the scene he saw Wilson dragging Brown into the car by his shirt. Hears a shot and Brown breaks lose. Brown gets 10-15 feet, with Wilson shooting 3-4 shots from his vehicle. Brown then turns around and puts his hands up. Wilson then casually walks up to Brown and shoots him 203 times at point blank range. He then stands over the body and fires 203 shots into it while it is on the ground. In total, 10 shots were fired.
* Witness 41 (August 26, 2014, also here): On second floor “between buildings” in a building with the west side facing Copperfield, so it could only be 2973/2975 Canfield Court (Brady’s building) or 2977/2999 Canfield Court. After hearing the first two shots (from inside car?), the witness went to the lot. Saw Wilson get out of the car and shoot Brown execution style, while on knees at close range. Wilson fired 9 shots so fast the gun had to be a full automatic,which the witness thought was illegal for police use. In later testimony the witness mentioned he/she saw Brown from the back only and saw a bruise on Office Wilson’s face.
Witness 34 (9/3/2014): Located in car heading west on Canfield, very near the police car (10-20 feet). Saw Brown and Wilson tussling for about 2 minutes. Wilson was holding Brown’s shirt and Brown threw “a couple blows”. Wilson was leaning towards center console. Shot rang out and Brown ran. He ran about 203 car lengths and then placed his hand on a brown car (as if winded?). Wilson came out and seemed “shaken”. Saw Brown turn around and come at Wilson and he was shot a couple of time. The witness then took off quickly: “I turn around right there in front of the officer truck and I burn out”.
Witness 57 (11/6/2014): Located in apartment in area (not sure where, but it does not matter). Heard shot and then saw tussling in car. Thought it was over until other shots were fired. Got cell phone and went outside to record the scene.
Witness 62 (11/6/2014): Treated officer Wilson at NW Healthcare. Wilson came in complaining of jaw pain. Stated he was punched twice and requested x-rays of jaw to see if it was broken. Had redness in the area of his jaw and some bruising. Also had scratch marks on the back of his neck.
Witness 64 (11/11/2014): At stop sign when he/she heard 2 shots. Saw brown running and appeared to be hit by shot in legs or hip. Turns to Wilson with hands up at chest level. Wilson about 8 feet away when shot.
I have examined a few other documents:
- Medical record has diagnosis reason 95909 (other/unspecified injury to the face and neck) and 78492 (jaw pain). The primary diagnosis code 920 (contusion of face/scalp/neck except eye). TRIAGE: Chief complaint “he needs x-rays he was hit in the face a couple of times”. MEDICAL SCREENING: Skin pink, dry and warm (evidence of injury). Pain index of 6 out of 10. Prescriptions: Naprosyn 500mg tablets, 20, for pain
- Wilson’s drug screen – negative on all counts (also see this)
- Brown’s drug screen – Positive for cannabinoids (DELTA-9-THC and 11-NOR-DELTA-9-THC-COOH in blood) and 11-HYDROXY-THC and 11-NOR-DELTA-THC-COOH in urine. I personally find this uninteresting, as it was marijuana, but you can draw your own conclusions.
Here are my thoughts on this, organized into different headings:
First there are some witnesses I find problems with. Some are major (I would think they are outright lying) and some are suspect, colored to belief system or similar (of some value, but should be taken with a grain of salt. I have stated why I think the witnesses should be discredited, for discussion.
Discredited witnesses – Either outright liar’s, as in the case of witness 46 and most likely witness 35, or someone who has pieced together so much it is difficult to accept any of the testimony at face value.
- Witness 35 was too far to have heard anything Brown through a closed window (other witnesses closer to the scene did not hear anything said from either party. He also describes the shooting taking place next to the cruiser (within 5 feet) and the shooting at point blank range. Since the resting place of Brown was much farther and a point blank shooting would have left powder on more than just Brown’s hands, this does not fit the facts. He also would have missed the past 4 shots as he was heading downstairs and had no angle, so could not have seen the “don’t shoot” hands up when it happened. More than likely his grief over losing a friend caused him to make up most of his testimony. He is warned numerous times not to lie under oath.
- Witness 44 describes being so blind he could not find his friends in his high school café without his glasses. Admits not wearing contact lenses or glasses on the day of the shooting. He is located about 150 feet from the police cruiser and farther from where Brown hit the ground. More than likely he saw a blur and filled in the story with what he heard talking to other people.
- Witness 45 describes seeing two officers, so it is more likely he/she came up after the investigation started, which was shortly after the shooting took place (within minutes). The witness also describes blood on the shirt, after Wilson shot Brown from in the car.
- There is no credibility whatsoever to witness 46’s statement. He has Brown and Johnson heading the wrong direction. He has the number of shots completely wrong. Has Wilson sticking his hand out the window to shoot Brown and then sets himself up as an attempted hero, where he is foiled by a cop telling him to “get the f*ck on”.
Suspect witnesses – may be something of value, but the story has evidence of coloring to fit a certain viewpoint.
- Witness 16 admits she did not see anything beyond the altercation in the police cruiser, as she was retrieving her phone and purse and did not see the shooting. Her testimony on the screech is useful, as it corroborates the car backing up before the fight, as is the information about the volleys of shots (matches other witnesses). The description of anything beyond the altercation is recollection, filled in by other people’s stories.
- Witness 37 describes an execution that could not have taken place based on physical evidence. About the only thing that can be taken at face value is there was a tussle in the car. He is also warned numerous times not to lie under oath.
- Witness 40 is not suspect in his shading of whether Brown had “attitude”. For this reason, I cannot accept the “charging like a football player”, especially since there is only one other witness that has Brown running at Wilson (there are many saying he was advancing). The events, overall, match other witnesses, but the racial beginning of the journal entry suggests a bit of bias in how the scene was reported. It is also a personal journal and not witness testimony.
- Witness 41 could not have seen much of the altercation from the second floor landing (examining angles on Google maps) and would not have seen Brown on the street on his knees once on the lot level, as there were cars in the way. The physical evidence refutes a close shooting and had the witness seen Brown from back only, would have never seen him on his knees, as he would have been. About the only thing I find interesting is the description of the bruises on Wilson’s face, but these would have had to have been witnessed later than at the time of the shooting, as it takes times for bruising to come up.
- Witness 42 describes an execution style shooting at very close range, which is refuted by physical evidence. He also mentions Wilson finishing Brown off while he was lying face down in the street, which would not match any of the wounds. It is also clear, from the interview, that he knows about the media stories being told.
- Witness 43 has embellished the story to include a taser, which Officer Wilson did not carry. This makes the rest of the testimony suspect. Since she did not witness the actual shooting, her testimony, beyond stating Wilson and Brown were struggling in the car, is rather useless.
- Witness 48 was over 200 feet from the scene and in the middle row of a passenger van, making it hard to see everything that was going on. Also describes Brown charging Wilson, as did witness 40
Here is what happened, as best as I can piece together from witness testimony, with some weight towards those that I cannot find issues with on my first reading.
Michael Brown and Darian Johnson are walking down the middle of Canfield Court, heading east to Darian Johnson’s apartment on the third floor of 2909 Canfield Drive. We know Brown and Johnson were recently at the Ferguson Market and Liquor, located at 9101 W Florissant Avenue, where Brown shoplifted some cigars and pushed the owner when confronted. It is approximately 11:40 AM. on August 9, 2014.
Officer Darren Wilson is driving a Ferguson Police SUV west on Canfield, having left a domestic disturbance in the Northwinds apartments. He comes on the teens and tells them to get out of the middle of the road. Some witnesses (not included in the testimony) have stated he said “get the f*ck out of the road” or “get the f*ck on the sidewalk”. Wilson drives by the two and then one of them says something back to Wilson (this is assumed by some witnesses). Wilson backs up the truck quickly (creating a “screech” or “skirr” described by witness 16), pulling up next to Brown and Johnson and attempts to open the door. The door bumps Brown (Johnson’s testimony). Brown then starts fighting the officer. Wilson is leaning away from Brown, but holding onto his shirt. Brown hits Wilson at least 2 times (witness testimony as well as medical reports and testimony). Two shots then ring out (one that hits Brown on the thumb at minimum (autopsy), and one that hits a window or window frame across the street – 2964 Canfield Court).
Brown and Johnson then run. Johnson ducks behind a car driving west on Canfield after trying to get in to the car (witness 34) , while Brown continues down the middle of the street. Wilson gets out of the car shaken from being hit and heads after Brown, albeit a bit slower than Brown. He shoots at Brown at this time, more than likely causing the forearm wound.
Brown then turns and faces Wilson. Wilson tells him to stop but Brown advances. The speed of the advance is unclear. It is also unclear whether Brown advances and is shot and then advances and is shot again (two volleys) or Brown advances once and is shot. He has his hands up at chest or shoulder level, but it is unclear whether the hands are in a surrender position or balled up.
After the altercation, there is an onsite investigation, after which Wilson is taken to Northwest Healthcare with evidence of bruising on his face.
Here are some additional bits I have found.
Here are some images that corroborate Wilson’s testimony.
NOTE: There is evidence of the fight in pictures (taken at NW Healthcare):
There is also evidence of a shot fired inside the car
here is another from the scene that shows the same piece sticking out
There is also forensic evidence of blood in the vehicle, as well as blood splatters
From one side of the body, he appears to have his hand in his waistband, as stated by Officer Wilson
From the other, his hand is out, so perhaps it was up, or up at chest level
Video of Scene
I find this one interesting, as it supports Wilson’s claim Brown rushed him (fast forward to 6:30 and start listening as one witness talks about Brown coming back at Wilson (after someone asks “why his body come this way though”)
Next thing I know he coming back towards unintelligible(?). The police had his gun drawn.
More repeated about 7:12 bout Brown coming at Wilson.
It is hard to drive a firm conclusion, as the testimony is all over the place. Here are things that are clear.
- Brown and Johnson were walking down the center of Canfield
- Wilson stopped and confronted them
- They walked off and Wilson backed up
- There was an altercation in the vehicle and Brown was in the vehicle at some point, not just with a hand around his throat outside the police car
- Brown struck Wilson at least once on the left cheek
- A shot was fired in the car that struck Brown
- Brown got clear and ran off
- Wilson pursued
- Brown turned to face Wilson before being fatally shot
Some witnesses state Brown rushed Wilson, per Wilson’s testimony, including one overheard on a video shot just after the event. Others state he had his hands up. It is obvious some witnesses have changed their stories over time, while others outright lied about events they saw.
Brown’s hand wound appears to be at close range as the official autopsy states there is particulate matter in the hand, indicating a shot at close range to the hand. Brown’s private autopsy does not have this finding, but states there is no stipple.
It is also highly likely at least one shot hit Brown as he ran away (forearm), although those stating he had his hands up offer another potential story.