In the case of Michael Brown’s fatal shooting, what we have is a collage of criminality, defiance, exceedingly poor judgment, biased reporting from both the left and the right, and prosecutorial misconduct. Let’s sort through what is known and see if we can arrive at a clearer picture of what happened and who gets their share of the guilt.
It is well-established that on the fateful day of his death, Michael Brown was caught on a security video cam not only shop-lifting, but physically warding off the store’s proprietor who was trying to recover the goods that were being stolen. Once he had made a successful getaway, Brown and a companion took to walking down the center of a nearby street; hardly exemplary behavior.
Responding to a call regarding a possible theft, Officer Darren Wilson rolls up in his official car. Seeing Brown and his pal in the middle of the road, he tells then to move off towards the curb. Nothing wrong with that. But Brown, already up to his eyeballs in trouble, decides to get confrontational with the cop. He positions himself so that he can reach into the car and physically accosts Wilson. So far, guilt belongs exclusively to Brown.
Still in his car, Wilson draws his pistol, and in the tussle with Brown that ensues, it discharges, slightly wounding the teen which explains how his blood and DNA were found in the cop’s vehicle. Brown walks away, now guiltier than ever having disobeyed the officer and then physically confronted him. But how quickly the situation changed.
At this point, what does the officer do? He claims to have radioed in for back-up, but a fact-check by Newsweek (1) showed that no such message was received at the station house. Does Wilson wait for the back-up to arrive? No, he promptly exists his car and proceeds after Brown on foot. Brown turns and we now have the makings of a second confrontation between the two. As the man-child advances towards Wilson, does the latter fire a disabling shot? No, he goes directly to what every policeman and woman is told is the last resort; i.e. lethal force. Simply put, Wilson has failed in at least three instances to follow well-known police training and procedure; you wait for back-up, do not seek a confrontation, and look for ways to avoid shooting to kill. Now Wilson has become, arguably perhaps, guilty.
Enter the media. In their rush to judgment, Brown is cast by the left as a gentle, unarmed, innocent giant. In sharp contrast, the right characterizes him as a “thug” who Wilson had every right to kill. So, “good” kid/”bad cop” or “bad” kid/”good cop”. To no one’s surprise, these polemics served to inflame passions, and polarize people across the country. Never mind that neither of these accounts comport with the truth. Thanks, media!!!
Finally, there is County Prosecutor Robert McCulloch. With a grand jury empaneled to determine whether or not Wilson should be bound over for trial, he does exactly the opposite of what an honest prosecutor is supposed to do; i.e. he finds a variety of ways to make it harder for the arbiters to send the officer to court. (2) As a result, Wilson gets “no-billed”, and walks free which only serves to exacerbate the belief, especially among African-Americans, that they cannot get justice from a system run by Whites for the benefit of Whites, facts and evidence be damned.
Finally, there is no excusing Brown multiple acts of criminal, physical and confrontational behavior. But none of that should serve to void his Constitutionally guaranteed civil rights. Arguments from Wilson’s supporters that the “kid got what he deserved” or that when he confronted Wilson “that changed everything” are taking the easy and certainly unprincipled way out. My God, even a cold-blooded killer gets “Mirandized”. Brown deserved nothing less.
2. One of several critiques of Prosecutor McCulloch’s bias can be found at: