How Did The Ferguson Shooting Really Go Down?

Activists March In Ferguson On Nat'l Day Of Action Against Police Brutality

The WaP0 reports on the autopsy of Michael Brown. It “suggests that the 18-year-old may not have had his hands raised when he was fatally shot”:

Experts told the newspaper that Brown was first shot at close range and may have been reaching for Wilson’s weapon while the officer was still in his vehicle and Brown was standing at the driver’s side window. The autopsy found material “consistent with products that are discharged from the barrel of a firearm” in a wound on Brown’s thumb, the autopsy says.

Another key piece of evidence:

Seven or eight African American eyewitnesses have provided testimony consistent with Wilson’s account, but none have spoken publicly out of fear for their safety, The Post’s sources said.

But Trymaine Lee relays some pushback on the WaPo’s reporting. He writes that “one of the experts whose analysis was central to those claims told msnbc that her analysis of the findings had been taken out of context”:

“You cannot interpret autopsy reports in a vacuum. You need to do it in the context of the scene, the investigation and the witness statements,” Dr. Judy Melinek said. “Sometimes when you take things out of context they can be more inflammatory.”

Danny Vinik analyzes the news:

How much stock you put in these results depends, in part, on how much you trust the county medical examiner’s office and the sources who spoke to the Post. The Brown family didn’t trust local authorities at allthat’s why they asked for a private autopsy in the first place. “The family has not believed anything the police or this medical examiner has said,” a lawyer for the family told The Washington Post. “They have their witnesses. We have seven witnesses that we know about that say the opposite.”

In addition, we don’t know much of the evidence that has been presented to the grand jury. These leaks are only part of the story. The Department of Justice, for its part, also condemned the leaks Wednesday, saying, “There seems to be an inappropriate effort to influence public opinion about this case.”

John Cole argues that the “leaks are about one thing, and one thing only- prepping the field for no indictment”:

I think my favorite part was the reefer madness bullshit, in which it was stated he had enough THC in his system to cause hallucinations. Reminded me of the DARE days when cops with straight faces told kids that if they smoked pot they would jump out of windows thinking they could fly.

Jonathan Cohn adds that a “decision to charge Wilson was never that likely, given the broad leeway that Missouri law gives to police who say they are acting in self-defense”:

If these new reports are correct, an indictment is even more improbable. That’s unlikely to sit well with Ferguson residents, whose grievances reflect long-simmering resentment over the treatment of a largely black population by a largely white police force. Brown’s killing instigated protests and, eventually, confrontations with police. But the problems existed long beforehand.

Allahpundit wonders what happens next:

[Benjamin L. Crump, a lawyer for the Brown family] says he has seven witnesses who’ll say that Wilson gunned Brown down unjustifiably. Great, says the defense, we have seven witnesses who say the opposite plus a pile of forensic evidence that shows Brown, who’d just committed a robbery at the local convenience store, not only assaulted a police officer but attempted to seize his firearm. There’s little doubt, barring some bombshell evidence that the public doesn’t know about, that Wilson’s not going to be convicted. The question now is whether he’ll be charged. One theory for all the leaks lately is that law enforcement is trying to prepare the public for the fact that grand jury is unlikely to return an indictment, but I don’t know: Given what Crump said in the excerpt above plus protesters vowing that “it’s going to be a war” if Wilson isn’t charged, sounds like releasing the evidence early isn’t going to calm anyone down. On the contrary, it may be that this is being leaked because Wilson supporters fear that he’ll be unfairly indicted anyway for political reasons, even though there’s no probable cause to think he murdered Brown. That’s probably the outcome city leaders would prefer — indictment followed by acquittal so that they can say the system took the incident seriously enough to force Wilson to defend his actions in open court. Think that result would calm people down? Me neither.

(Photo: Josh Williams walks beside a memorial built on the spot in Ferguson, Missouri where 18-year-old Michael Brown was shot to death by police officer Darren Wilson. The photo was taken on October 22, 2014. By Scott Olson/Getty Images)