Analyzing the Michael Brown Shooting


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.

Maps

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.

BrownMap

NOTES

  • 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.

Wilson Interview

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.

August 9

 

Witness Interviews

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.

September

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”.

November

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.

Other Documents

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.

Discussion

Here are my thoughts on this, organized into different headings:

Witnesses

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

    Story

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.

Additional bits

Here are some additional bits I have found.

Wilson’s Testimony

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.

Conclusion?

It is hard to drive a firm conclusion, as the testimony is all over the place. Here are things that are clear.

  1. Brown and Johnson were walking down the center of Canfield
  2. Wilson stopped and confronted them
  3. They walked off and Wilson backed up
  4. 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
  5. Brown struck Wilson at least once on the left cheek
  6. A shot was fired in the car that struck Brown
  7. Brown got clear and ran off
  8. Wilson pursued
  9. 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.

How to be an Amateur IT Recruiter


I have received more than 350 emails over the past 2 days with job opportunities. While this sounds great (I am in demand?), most simply show the hallmarks of a amateur recruiter.

As a service to those desiring to be amateur recruiters, as opposed to professional recruiters, I offer the following guide to help you in your quest. Please include each of the following in your daily habits.

Email Basics

The first thing you have to master is email basics.

1. Mark Every Job Opportunity Email as Urgent

Contemporary wisdom says people pay attention to urgent emails more than non-urgent ones, so make sure you mark your email as urgent. True, nothing in your email is really urgent to the recipient (me? other IT professionals?), but who cares. This is not about me, it is about you. The only possible kink in this plan is other people might also be marking their job opportunities as urgent. Let’s look at a picture of my inbox job folder:

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Wow, 100% of the job folder is marked Urgent. My suggestion is to unlock the secret “super urgent” button in your mail client and use it so I really know your email is urgent … to you.

You should also bear in mind that adding words like “Immediate need” add more punch.

2. Search By Buzzwords

There is no better way to reach masses of IT professionals and simply scream “I don’t know what the hell I am doing” like firing off job emails based on buzzwords. When I get a $10 an hour support tech email, I am thrilled at the opportunity to increase my stress level at a thankless job that pays a piddly fraction of what I am making now.

And while you are at it do the same blind search on multiple job boards using their massive Spam email generator to generate thousands of emails in a single keystroke. Efficiency at its best.

3. Send Multiple Emails To the Same Person

Nothing wastes more time than making sure you are not sending out multiple responses. Why take more than a few minutes to complete your entire day’s worth of work. Peruse multiple job boards and send out emails using the same buzzword. Sure, about 95% of your list just got multiple emails and knows you are a lazy moron, but perhaps you reach a handful that are only on one board.

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The blessing here is you not only show me you have no attention to detail, but you show me I am just a piece of meat to you, completely invalidating my existence. Yes, I want you to be my recruiter, as I like feeling like I am nothing.

4. Bold and Highlight Lots of Sh*t in the Email

Sometimes when I am reading an email, I miss the important stuff, so make sure you not only bold it, but you highlight it as well. Otherwise, I might send in a resume for this VB6 position that pays nothing, in a state far away from my home. Thank God Abhilasha bolded and highlighted Perforce, or I might have done something dumb like send my resume in for the job. Whew! Dodged that bullet.

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Even better, bold and highlight the entire email.

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Or if you really want to annoy people highlight and use red bolding.

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Bonus points to Calvin since I have never worked on a criminal justice application and that is a required skill.

7. Copy and Paste the Entire Email from the Client or Account Manager

Why take time to edit stuff out of the email before sending it out. That takes time and time is money. Let the candidate see how truly lazy you are by including stuff that makes absolutely no sense to the recipient.

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Yes, that one is at the top of a job email.

8. Send Out Emails to People Who Fail an Absolute MUST qualification

For example, let’s say you have a job for a person that must be local to Florida. Send it out to everyone. There are bound to be a few people that are ACTUALLY FROM FLORIDA (CAPPED in response to the email).

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This particular email really took the cake as it was a complete forward (see #7).

Make The Candidate Do the Work for You

Why actually interview people when you can have them send you all the interview details to

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This is a simpler one. Some have dozens of questions that have to be filled out.

Phone Basics

It is not enough to reach the coveted complete amateur title without having amateur phone skills. Here are a few things that can help you in this regard.

1. Show You are Using a Very Old Resume

I, like many people I know, no longer include a home phone on my resume. In fact, I have not included the home phone for about 6 years. When you call me on my home phone, it pretty much says “I don’t have your latest information” and “you are just a slab of meat to me”.

2. Ignore The Candidate’s Requirements

Your job is to convince the candidate to take the job no matter what. Don’t let things like “I currently make twice the max you are offering for this position” deter you from suggesting how much of a “great place to work” it is. If you can keep the candidate talking, maybe he will work for minimum wage.

It should also be of no importance that the candidate states “I do not want to move to Siberia”. If the position is in Siberia, then your job is to keep hounding them until they decide to take up. As long as they are still listening to you, you have a chance, right?

3. Insult Their Spouse

Since your culture devalues women, there is no reason to be polite to an IT candidates wife.

4. Be Demanding

Just because the candidate stated they are busy is of no consequence. Demand they take your call NOW and treat them like the meat slab they are.

5. Call Numerous Times

This is a two parter. In the first part, hang up and call back when you get their answering machine. Many candidates will screen the call until you irritate the crap out of them. In the second, if a candidate states “send me the job requirement and I will look at it later”, call them back every half hour until they convince you they really aren’t interested. Do this even if you get an email stating they are not interested and repeat #2 above.

6. Illustrate You Have Not Read the Resume

Nothing states you are working towards a complete dufus award than asking me a question about an item that appears prominently on my resume. Bonus points if it is both prominent and sits at the top of my resume.

Summary

While much of this is tongue in cheek it still amazes me how many think recruiting is simply a matter of finding slabs of meat and sending them to a processing plant. Considering recruiting companies, even subcontracting recruiting companies, can make a good amount with candidates, you would think we would have more professionals out there.

The reason there is a problem is very simple. IT, especially on the development side, has been a seller’s market for over 10 years. This has led to the worst developer on the team making more than 90K (or $50+/hour consulting), but it has also made it somewhat profitable to be lazy as hell and do bare minimum when it comes to recruiting.

There are plenty of professionals out there, and I know quite a few locally. But my inbox is routinely filled up with the amateur yo-yos.

In the next few days, I will show you my method of combatting the yo you farm.

Peace and Grace,
Greg

Twitter: @gbworld

Sleep Number Delivery Nightmare


We went out to buy a new bed on August 24th. Went to the Amish mattress store, then to Mattress King and finally to Sleep Number. When we first tried the sleep number in their little gimicky bed where they dial you up and down, I was ready to leave, as the base beds are really not that comfortable. But when I tried the bed with memory foam on top, I was sold with the idea. So we bought the bed.

We were told it would take up to 2 weeks for delivery, so we were thrilled when we got an email a few days later to schedule delivery of the bed. Here is where the nightmare starts.

The delivery company that handles sleep number is apparently overloaded with work to the point they can only offer Mondays and Wednesdays for delivery … at least until you let them know these days don’t work. Initially it appeared Monday would work, but that dream faded when the window was set for 4 hours in the afternoon. Then the jostling began with Monday, then Wednesday, then Monday, then Wednesday. Neither day is good, especially for a 2-6 PM window, which is all they can offer.

When it pushed well into the land of ridiculousness, they came up with a Tuesday, on September 24th. A month for delivery seems a bit long to me. Yes, I realize the delivery company only has so much time, but a company selling products at this price should have some clue when something is going to take well over the time they have their sales personnel mentioning.

I am sure I will be happy with the bed, if it ever gets installed in my house. I also take this as a learning lesson not to buy something this costly unless you can get some type of guarantee on the delivery date.

Peace and Grace,
Greg

Twitter: @gbworld

“Innocent Until Proven Guilty” And Other Outdated Concepts in the Internet Age


I just got a call about 30 minutes from my wife about a retraction I made on a website. I will not go into details, as my intent here is not to drudge up sympathy or support for “my side” or to have my “high five” crowd seek out the “other side”. This is due to a few factors:

  • I strongly believe any disagreement between two individuals is best handled in private.
  • I highly respect the work done by the person who started the firestorm, which was evident in my retraction
  • There is a lesson to learn from this incident, even without the particulars
  • I am more proactive than reactive in nature
  • The only reason to dredge up particulars would be my own vanity, and not an intent to better this world
  • Reducing to an attack only lowers the level of the discussion

History

For a bit of history, I recently read an article on the Internet that had some incorrect facts. As there was no way to directly contact the media to get things corrected, I posted a retraction comment. My reasoning was two-fold:

  1. I have a strong belief that truth should prevail. This comes partially from my training in journalism (mass communications, with a specialty in film and video (broadcast journalism)) and partially from my belief in a God of truth and justice. We can return to this later.
  2. A strong sense of pride in the actions a certain person has taken, which I felt were lessened by the nature of the article.

My retraction note was read tonight by someone who saw it as an attack. And that person posted it on a social media site where I was skewered without one of the individuals writing me personally and asking my intent. Worse, many of the individuals have personally attacked the person I have pride in, which has hurt me intensely. Personally, I would rather use this outlet to skewer them back, but I would rather this be a productive post. Clarification: Most of the truly negative comments have been received via email.

Intent

Intent is an extremely important concept in a court of law. If a person kills someone accidentally, without intent, the sentence, if any, will be lesser. If there was intent to kill, it is more likely there will be a conviction. The charged starts out innocent until proven guilty. And, if proven guilty, a sentence will be passed. If there was intent to kill, the sentence will be harsher than if there was no intent.

While intent can be inferred by actions, it requires a large amount of evidence to prove intent by inference. More likely, it is proven through the actions of the individual on trial.

In the court of public opinion, the best way to determine intent is to ask. Unfortunately, we are often so caught up with loyalties to a specific group (“our side” versus “their side”), we simply don’t ask. And, since it is not a court of law, we have no culpability in the matter. We simply do.

My Side versus Your Side

I see this as one of the most damaging trends in America. Rather than examine reporting at face value, we are more likely to believe or disbelieve based on the news source. Thus, to some, Fox News == Faux News and to others CNN == The Clinton News Network. In reality, each leans, but not nearly as far as the “other side” would have one believe.

What is sad about this is most of us are human beings, not Liberals or Conservatives, Democrats or Republicans. In fact, most of us would think someone who defined themselves solely by labels to be sick, even if we agreed with the viewpoints of the label in question. Think about it. How would you view a person who refused to speak to his own teenage son or daughter because the son or daughter debunked a story on his favorite news channel?

Innocent Until Proven Guilty

The my side versus your side often leads to a “guilty until proven innocent” type of viewpoint. Many years ago, I had an individual state I should be arrested and dropped off in Iraq in an insurgent area for voting for Bush. He could not fathom that my vote was focused on factors other than the war and that Kerry had not shown me anything that gave me confidence in his ability to lead this country. He also could not accept I voted the lesser of two evils, based on what I knew at the time. Four years later, I “threw my vote away”, as I could not vote D or R in good conscience.

Please note that my statements above are not derisive to anyone who voted for Kerry in 2004, as I don’t see things through “my side/your side” glasses. It is sad I have to add these types of disclaimers, however, as I think I have stated my point very clearly. I have found, when I don’t, someone assumes that anything not clearly stated must be an attack.

And that is the crux here. So many people read into what is stated rather than actually read what is stated. I am not sure why this is. Perhaps it is that our society is becoming less educated due to political correctness or trying to make sure we don’t damage someone else’s self esteem.

Back to the Issue at Hand

In my retraction, I stated facts. I did not attack the individual who was incorrectly accredited. In fact, I was quite complementary on their accomplishments over the past few years. I hope the individual reads this blog entry, as the individual has ensured I cannot post anything in defense on the social media site. This is probably an oversight, as well, and I do not hold the individual personally culpable, as I doubt the individual personally stopped me from posting.

What was uncharitable in the whole mess was the comments fired back from friends of the individual. Not one took the time to ask me intent prior to stating their comments. If someone had asked me, I would have stated my intent and those now projecting me as the next Hitler would have discovered I meant no ill will on anyone.

I am deeply hurt by this event, as I did what I felt was ethically right. Given the same circumstances, I might have taken a bit more time to craft a note to ensure all disclaimers where in place, but I would have still sent the note. I still have this crazy belief truth matters.

At this time, there are some who are brandishing torches. Unfortunately, they are not just aiming at me, but also at the ones that truthfully should have credit for their accomplishments. Rather than focus solely at me and my actions, even in their wrong assessment of my intent, they are lashing out at others who were not involved.

Final Note

Here is a note I tried to post on the social media page. Unfortunately, I was no longer given permission to post, so I have to do it here (with names and groups in {} to avoid dredging this up to the public awareness:

I wish I had received the same charity and benefit of the doubt that I gave {person} in this matter. I never accused her of anything, as I assumed it was a media mistake.  I just reached out, as I have with many news stories over the past few years, and tried to make sure the truth was told. This comes from my high sense of ethics and my classwork in journalism.

I am deeply hurt at the judge, jury and executioner attitude of so many in this thread. Perhaps determining my intent would have been better before pulling the switch. All it would have taken was a message sent to my account.

If someone would like to send me a personal message telling me your feelings, we can discuss this. If you would rather attack me publically, I want no part in it.

I sat in the living room when the idea bake. I watched as {person1} posted on {site}. I saw the {group} consume time for many, many months. This is not deriding anyone else’s efforts, nor did {person1}ever ask for any fame in this, but my sense of justice won’t allow me to be silent as you bash her and try to take this away from her.

If you want to attack me, that is fine. I would prefer you do it in private, but you are allowed to choose your forum, as we live in a free country. But don’t destroy {person1} for my actions, as that is an unjust action. And, please, take the time to actually read through the entire retraction and see there was no ill intent. I wish I felt the same for some of the comments here. I am deeply hurt.

I am most hurt that not one of you asked me before firing the bullet. I would have at least given that benefit of the doubt to someone posting something about me.

The Point

The point is we have become an uncivil society. Years ago we would have told our neighbor his {something in his yard} was ugly; today we sue him. Years ago we would have asked someone what they meant by a comment; today we fire it off in the social media sites and watch our [friends/followers] high five and execute the other person.

The interesting thing is we don’t feel any remorse because we don’t see the damage done in the wake. If you think about it, it is much like warfare. In the days you had to run someone through with a sword, war was very hard. And, compared to today’s battles, fewer people died. But as the weapons allowed you to kill without seeing the carnage, war became easier. In like manner, telling off your neighbor, face to face, is hard. Sending him a letter is easier. Getting a lawyer to send the letter is even easier. And skewering him on Facebook is even easier.

This is sad, however, as many neighbors might be easier to approach if you asked them why. And, if you heard the reason, you might actually have sympathy and agree. If not, you might get the neighbor to see your side. Instead, today, we choose to be enemies. Very tragic.

I am not sure if anyone in the thread will read this, but I hope they will. I bear no ill will, nor have I ever. And if someone had actually asked my intent prior to firing off nasty comments, perhaps they would have seen my sole focus was truth. Perhaps I could have stated it in the disclaimer language so popular, and sometimes necessary, today? If so, that is my sole crime, not the one I have been convicted of without a trial.

Peace and Grace,
Greg

Twitter: @gbworld

Suncoast Energy (Orlando Airport) gas rip off


We just got back from a trip to Orlando where we witnessed the most extreme form of gas gouging I have ever seen. This is not a short term thing, like most cases, but an ongoing rip off. As there are general technical conferences at Disney every year, this is for my IT buddies.
 
As you come back to the Orlando airport, there are only gas stations on the north side of the airport. The first one you come to is Suncoast Energy. It has no placard announcing gas pricing, which is a danger signal. The price, last friday, was $3.99 per gallon. You see no other gas stations close by, so you pay. But, just 1/2 mile up the road is a 7-11 selling gas for $1.83.
 
My wife went in to question this practice and the guy said "we are the closest to the rental agencies". This is true. It would also make sense if they were charging 25 cents more for convenience, but $2.16 more? 218% more than other gas stations, which are making a profit?
 
Hey, it is America. He is free to rip people off. But I am also free to tell everyone about his practices.
 
Peace and Grace,
Greg

Election Nonsense


I have been reading a lot about the election this year, largely from blogs and forum posts, where the ignorant masses sound off about their beliefs and feelings about the electoral process. Here are some thoughts on elections. Please note that none of this is aimed at a particular candidate or party, just at some ignorant, selfish and/or stupid statements I have heard about the process of electing a candidate.

Every Vote Should Count?

I have recently heard a lot of claptrap about the founding fathers’ intention that every person have a vote and that vote would count. I have yet to find that intention in any documents written by any of the founding fathers. In fact, the reality is quite the opposite.

In the colonies, there were requirements that you had to be a landowner to vote. The negative side of this requirement, of course, is that women were ineligible to vote (a right not acquired until 1920 – 19th amendment), as were free men of color (right acquired in 1870 – 15th amendment). The positive side of this requirement, at least in theory, is the voters would have a stake in the game.

It is unrealistic to go back to a system like this, as it would remove rights from a large segment of society. At the time these laws stood in place, it was much easier to get land, often through lottery type systems that still existed well into the 1800s. Today, a large part of the populace do not own any land.

The founding fathers also felt that one should be educated about his choice. The current trend in this country is to attempt to get everyone to vote, regardless of whether they actually understand the issues or the candidates’ stance on the issues. Many of these people are voting based on small amounts of information and perception, often false. And some very intelligent people are supporting the idea of people voting on false perception, as their candidate is elected. In the push to get everyone voting, we are allowing an ignorant electorate to decide the fate of the nation. This goes counter to intent.

I am not stating that we should disenfranchise anyone. I do believe all people have the right to vote and should exercise it. The danger, however, is summed up in this quote from Benjamin Franklin.

"When the people find that they can vote themselves money, that will herald the end of the republic."

Just recently, I saw a forum post where one person felt Stephanopolis’ comments on Good Morning America were racist or at least supporting a racist idea. His quote was "1% of black voters voted for McCain, and it is surprising that he got that many". In answer, another poster stated:

Why is voting for a person that you feel will do the most for you
automatically racist? Given the assumption that a black person will
automatically strive to improve the lot of other black people, then why
not call the decision to vote for that person "altruistic" rather than
"racist"?

I am not concerned right now with the racism angle, but the inherent allusion in the diea that we elect a government that will "do something for us". Do we really want a government that is a mom, babysitter, nursemaid or our big brother. Let that sink in a bit, as you do not get someone who ensures your every "need" without oversight. So much for the ideas JFK expressed in his inaugural address:

And so, my fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country.

We know some choose a particular candidate based on perception rather than reality. This concept is encouraged by the politicos on both sides of the aisles, albeit in different ways. It should not, however, be encouraged by logical, thinking adults, just because of the outcome ("My" candidate wins). Benjamin Franklin’s idea was best summed by the Scottish lawyer Alexander Fraser Tytler:

"A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the voters discover that they can vote themselves largesse from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates promising the most benefits from the public treasury with the result that a democracy always collapses over loose fiscal policy, always followed by a dictatorship. The average age of the world’s greatest civilizations has been about 200 years. These nations have progressed through this sequence: ‘From bondage to spiritual faith; From spiritual faith to great courage; From courage to liberty; From liberty to abundance; From abundance to selfishness; From selfishness to apathy; From apathy to dependence; From dependence back into bondage."

Electoral College and other topics

This brings us to another topic, the electoral college and the set up of the Congress. In 2000, there was a lot of talk of banning the electoral college. The push was driven by those whose candidate lost the election, despite getting the majority of the popular vote. Why would the founding fathers set up a system like this? Here is another quote from Benjamin Franklin:

"Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch. Liberty is a well-armed lamb contesting the vote!"

Or perhaps Thomas Jefferson:

A democracy is nothing more than mob rule, where fifty-one percent of the people may take away the rights of the other forty-nine.

The founding fathers formed a Republic, not a Democracy. The intent was that sovereignty would lie in the states. The electoral college was designed with this in mind, as each state decides a winner. Their winner is added to the winners from the others states and a President is elected. The fear of mob rule was a great reason for the electoral college.

The electoral college has its flaws, of course. As one only needs to get 270 votes to win, it is possible, although currently not probable, to win the Presidential election with only 11 states out of 50: California, Texas, New York, Florida, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Georgia, New Jersey and North Carolina. The map looks like this image:

usa

It is for this reason we see more campaigning in the larger states (by population) than smaller states. It is also why one candidate will stop campaigning in states where the polls have slanted heavily against him.

The idea of state sovereignty and push against mob rule do not end with the electoral college either. The Congress is divided into two governing bodies: The House and the Senate. The House is set up based on population, so states with greater populations have more representatives. The Senate, however, is set up to give each state an equal voice, so there are 2 Senators from each state, regardless of the population of the state.

Filibuster Proof

In many articles I have seen lately, there is an air of celebration over the idea that the Democrats might have enough of a majority in both the House and Senate to be filibuster proof. This absolutely appalls me that one feels we need a Congress that is so overwhelmingly to one side that they can act in a partisan manner and shove items down the throats of others who think differently than they do.

What the average American has to know here is the power is not the power to avoid a filibuster, but the power to shut down all debate. With a 60% majority, a party can enact cloture, or close the debate, on a bill. Once enacted, there can be no new amendments to the bill, the debate must end within 30 hours and a specific Senator is limited to 1 hour.

A government is designed to protect its people from outside forces who would do them harm. A government should also guarantee a level playing field by securing certain rights. It is not designed to ensure everyone has a chance to “win” the race just that they have the right to enter the race and, if they persevere, finish it. 

Mandate

Another word rearing its head is the word mandate. I have seen the Obama victory (53% of the popular vote), and the election of a Democratic Congress as a mandate to push all of his ideas through. It was actually stated in one post that Obama should “stick it” to the “wingnuts” and show them “who is boss”.

Normally crazy comments like this should be ignored, especially in light of the evidence, but it is a popular theme, even amongst those who are a bit less radical in their viewpoints. The words are not being stated as strongly, but there is a sense that Obama should use his “mandate” to push through controversial legislation unfettered by the minority. While these ideas may sound appealing, consider the following quotes:

"Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely."

–Lord Acton (often misquoted as Machiavelli)

Those who seek absolute power, even though they seek it to do what they regard as good, are simply demanding the right to enforce their own version of heaven on earth. And let me remind you, they are the very ones who always create the most hellish tyrannies. Absolute power does corrupt, and those who seek it must be suspect and must be opposed.

— Barry Goldwater

Remember this. While 53% of Americans voted for Obama, another 47% did not. If you currently feel there is a mandate to “stick it” to anyone, consider the following:

It is proof of a base and low mind for one to wish to think with the masses or majority, merely because the majority is the majority. Truth does not change because it is, or is not, believed by a majority of the people.

— Giordano Bruno

Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect.

— Mark Twain

 

Summary

While I am certainly not for stopping people from exercising their right to vote, I hope, as did the founding fathers, that the electorate will be educated enough to vote in the candidate who is best for the country rather than ignorantly voting based on scare tactic propaganda. I guess you can sum up my position that we should view the right to vote as a responsibility and duty and not a right.

And, while I am not thrilled about the electoral college, I, like the founding fathers, believe that mob rule is the greater of two evils. At least with the electoral college, sans two states, we have each state make a decision and keep some sovereignty at the state level.

I will leave you with a quote I feel adequately sums up the feelings of many in this election:

Democracy is being allowed to vote for the candidate you dislike least. 
~Robert Byrne

Peace and Grace,
Greg

Gas below $2.00 in Nashville


I posted on www.nashvillegasprices.com, a site owned by www.gasbuddy.com, that gas was $1.99 in Nashville. My post was deleted. I posted again. Deleted. I just posted a third time. Let’s see if they are dense enough to delete it again.
 
Tomorrow, I will post pictures of the madness going on at the Highway 100 Kroger (added to this post). Apparently, the other Bellevue Kroger has followed. Let’s see if the morons delete that post, as well.
 
Now, I know $1.99 is hard to believe, since the gas started at $2.49 this morning, but I filled up my tank for less than $30 today. I am happy.
 
Peace and Grace,
Greg