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August 15, 2014

Ferguson Police Chief: The Initial Stop of Michael Brown Was Not About the Robbery, But About Brown and Johnson Walking In the Middle of the Street

More facts.

"The initial contact between the officer and Mr. Brown was not related to the robbery," Thomas Jackson, the police chief, said during a news conference Friday afternoon.

Rather, it stemmed from the fact that Brown and his friend were "walking down the street blocking traffic," Jackson said.

This explains why Brown's friend said the stop was over the fact that the cops rolled up on them for just walking in the street -- apparently, that's pretty much what happened. They were walking in the middle of the street, and the cops stopped beside them to say "Get the f*** on to the sidewalk."

Or so Darion Johnson says.

Then again, Darion Johnson also says the cops had absolutely no reason to take an interest in himself and Michael Brown.

The Washington Post article goes on to overread the statement:

While this corresponds with what Brown’s friend, Dorian Johnson, had been telling media outlets, it does appear to contradict the conclusion that many had drawn from a news conference Jackson had held earlier in the day. Jackson had said that Brown was the suspect in a robbery that occurred not far from where he was killed, releasing a police report and video footage connected to the robbery.

It doesn't contradict it. The police chief said the initial contact was not about the robbery -- he does not say that the robbery never became an issue during the stop.

For example -- and I'm just making this up, but this is a possible scenario the Washington Post seems to rule out without actually knowing one way or the other -- it could have been that Brown and Johnson were stopped due to their walking in the middle of the street, and then an identity check over the radio disclosed to the officers that someone matching Brown's description was a suspect in a robbery.

The police officer says the initial contact was not about the robbery -- but not that the contact never involved the robbery at any point.

We don't know.

There's also this to consider:


The robbery does not mean that the officer is telling the truth about the facts of the shooting.

However, prior to the robbery, it seemed implausible that an "unarmed teenager" would just grab for a gun and then flee the cops over, supposedly, nothing at all.

The new information suggests that this is not implausible at all -- in fact, it's plenty plausible. A guy who just committed a felony robbery does indeed have good reason to wish to terminate a contact with the police at the earliest opportunity.

Does it prove the shooting was justified? Does it prove, as the left parodizes it, that "Michael Brown deserved to be executed"?

No to both claims -- but whereas the cop's story seemed implausible earlier, the background facts about the robbery, and Brown's apparent casual familiarity with violence, makes his story plausible.

Not proven, but plausible.

Update: We can stop the doubt about whether Brown and Johnson were the duo at the convenience store -- Johnson has now admitted it was them.

From MSNBC:

The friend who was with Michael Brown when he was shot and killed by a police officer near St. Louis over the weekend is reportedly confirming that he and Brown had taken part in the theft of cigars from a convenience store that day.

That word comes from the attorney for Dorian Johnson, speaking to MSNBC.

That should put the kibosh on the claims (recounted at that link) that the video was "photoshopped" and all the rest of the conspiracy gibberish you hear from people who decide upon the facts before they know any of the facts, but, people being people, I kind of doubt it will completely end the QuikTrip Trutherism.

Anti-Cop Possibilities: While I'm spinning possible scenarios that absolve the cops and put the blame on Brown, I should also note some scenarios that put the blame on the cops.

It is possible that the cops never knew about Brown's robbery, and gave him grief over a minor jaywalking infraction. Perhaps, still not knowing about the robbery, they harassed him until the point he decided to run.

It's also possible that the cops got angry at Brown for being mouthy or otherwise angering them personally while not actually breaking any law, and then, for some reason, began shooting him.

I note this possibilities, but I have trouble seeing them as likely. I just wrote "and then, for some reason, began shooting him."

I do not understand the motive for that. I can understand why Brown would grab for a gun, or assault a cop -- he had just committed a robbery. He would have a reason to do that. (Not a good reason, but a reason.)

On the other hand, I have trouble understanding why a cop would just gun Brown down. The entire theory seems to hang on the motive: Because he hated black teenagers and wished to murder them on general principles.

That is possible, of course -- we know there are deranged individuals with such animus.

But it doesn't seem terribly likely here, and we ordinarily would not suspect someone of actually being a Crazy Racist Opportunity-Murderer without some other facts consistent with such a speculation.

Corrected: I initially said that the cop "wasn't aware" of the robbery at the time of the initial stop.

I got that from some media person's tweet.

However, that also overreads the statement. The statement is that the stop was not related to the robbery.

It is conceivable that the cop stopped Brown and Johnson due to walking in the street, and then realized "This large man just might match the description of that robbery that went out over the radio."

I don't know that's what happened -- and no one has said it happened that way.

However, the statement from the police didn't say the contrary, either, but the entire media (including Fox) is claiming that they did.

Correction: I have repeatedly wrote "the cops" to refer to the arresting officer(s).

In fact, I am now corrected that there was only one cop in this encounter, alone in his cruiser.

Sorry, I kept assuming -- seeing it in my head this way-- that there were two cops in the car.

I shouldn't assume, obviously.


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posted by Ace at 03:47 PM

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