Sunday, April 5, 2015

Instead of going into McDonald's, B&J continued walking

Michael Brown exited the Ferguson Market and Liquor store at 11:52:15, joining Dorian Johnson on the sidewalk.  The Investigative Report describes the store's video of that sidewalk area -- a video that never has been seen by the public:
Johnson briefly stops and faces an unknown male before continuing away from the business ... 
Brown and Johnson walking east into the parking lot out of view. 
... a male employee of the business could be seen exiting the business at approximately 11:54:14 [11:52:29] am. ....
The white Monte Carlo leaves the parking lot at approximately 11:54:28 [11:52:43] am.
Since the store video's clock was running 1:45 ahead of the police dispatch clock, I have subtracted that difference from the two times in the above passage, to match the dispatch clock. 

The male clerk came out and (according to Johnson's testimony) yelled at Brown and Johnson, informing them that the police were being called. I think that the clerk hoped that they would come back to the store to pay for or to give back the cigarillos. At that moment, Brown and Johnson still had not crossed the street -- because the clerk would not have yelled at them if they had crossed it. 

The Monte Carlo driver stayed parked right in front of the store, in the camera's view, long enough to hear the clerk yelling about the police, and then the driver drove out of the parking lot. 

The male clerk stayed outside long enough to see Brown and Johnson cross the street and head north. Then the male clerk went back inside the store and told the female clerk that Brown and Johnson were headed toward the QuikTrip store that was located farther north on the street's far side.   


Johnson testified that he and Brown walked straight east across the parking lot and then across the street. However, I think that Johnson and Brown first headed toward the next-door McDonald's restaurant but then crossed the street because the clerk yelled about the police being called. Brown and Johnson figured that if the clerk saw them enter the McDonald's, then the clerk would send the arriving policeman there for an easy arrest.


Dorian Johnson was living with his girlfriend and their four-month-old daughter in Canfield Green Apartment Complex's Building 12, which was about a block south of Canfield Drive. Although he was unemployed and not paying his rent, he left his apartment every morning to buy breakfast and smoke marijuana 

Johnson told the grand jury about his morning routine:

August 9 began like any other day. 
I start my morning. I wake up. I take a shower. 
I ask my girl: does she like breakfast?, what would she like for breakfast?
I head out to go get it.  
Upon getting breakfast I get me some cigarillos. I smoke marijuana in my mornings when I start my day off. 
So I was going, headed to the store. 
[Page 24]
Elsewhere, he mentioned that he walked his dog every morning, and so I assume that he normally combined the dog-walk with the breakfast-purchase. A walk to buy breakfast at McDonald's and bring it back to his apartment would last about a half-hour -- 11 minutes walking each way, plus a few minutes buying the breakfast. 

A walk to the McDonald's lasts about 11 minutes. 
I assume that Johnson did not buy cigarillos every morning. Rather, he bought only the breakfast and carried it warm directly back to his apartment. I speculate that he ate breakfast with his girlfriend, left his dog in the apartment, and then walked north across Canfield Drive to visit a drug-trafficking partner whom I call Cigarillos Supplier, who lived near the point indicated by the label Pipe Foreman in the above image. In Cigarillo Supplier's apartment, Johnson got the cigarillos and smoked the marijuana. 

I speculate that on the occasional mornings when Cigarillo Supplier lacked cigarillos, Johnson would buy some cigarillos in Ferguson Market and Liquor. He would buy the cigarillos first, buy the breakfast second, take the warm breakfast back to his own apartment, and then take the cigarillos to Cigarillo Supplier's apartment. 

I will explain my speculation in later articles, but for now I will simply assert the following sequence of events on that fateful morning. 

1) Johnson left his apartment, walking his dog, and walked north across Canfield Drive to Cigarillo Supplier's apartment. There Johnson asked whether cigarillos were needed. Cigarillo Supplier responded that Johnson would have to buy some cigarillos during his morning walk. 

2) As Johnson began walking to the Market and McDonald's, he saw Brown conversing with Pipe Foreman in the nearby parking lot. Brown was an apprentice in the drug-trafficking business that Johnson and Cigarillo Supplier conducted. Johnson joined the conversation and soon realized that Brown might be able to develop Pipe Foreman as a purchaser or supplier of illegal drugs.  

3) Johnson returned to Cigarillo Supplier's apartment and consulted with him about this prospect. They agreed that they should focus immediately on this prospect. Cigarillo Supplier made a quick breakfast, and Johnson took the breakfast and his dog back to his apartment. Having fed his girlfriend, Johnson returned to the parking lot without his dog and rejoined the conversation between Brown and Pipe Foreman. 

4) This conversation lasted intermittently for about an hour. During the pauses, Johnson went back to Cigarillo Supplier's apartment to consult about the situation. Cigarillo Supplier gave Johnson some marijuana to give to Brown to offer to Pipe Foreman. Brown was given also $10.

5) Pipe Foreman indicated to Brown and Johnson that he would finish his work at about noon. Then he would send his work colleague home and would be free to smoke and discuss drugs with Brown and Johnson. 

6) Since nobody had cigarillos, Brown and Johnson set off walking with the main goal of getting some cigarillos at Ferguson Market and Liquor. They had a secondary goal of then buying some food for themselves and for Pipe Foreman at McDonald's. 

7) On the way to the Market, they stopped at a home on the 300 block of Canfield Drive and informed an African-American man there about their situation. This man said he would ask permission to borrow a Monte Carlo automobile and would meet them at the Market. Perhaps there was an agreement that Johnson would give this Monte Carlo man some or all of the cigarillos that Johnson would purchase. 

8) At the Ferguson Market, the man parked a white Monte Carlo in front and walked inside, followed seconds later by Johnson and Brown. As Brown was grabbing a handful of cigarillos from a clerk, the Monte Carlo driver walked out and held the store's door open for Johnson and Brown to exit behind him. The Monte Carlo driver then got into the car and drove away from the store.

9) Brown and Johnson began walking toward the McDonald's, but when a Market clerk yelled at them that the police were being called, Brown and Johnson immediately decided to forego their stop at McDonald's. Instead, they crossed the street and continued walking north.

My speculation about the paths 
of departure from the Ferguson Market
The above image illustrates how 1) Brown and Johnson and 2) the Monte Carlo departed from the Market. 

The red line differs from Johnson's description of the path. Johnson indicated that he and Brown walked from the Market straight across the street -- without heading toward the McDonald's.The clerk yelled at them while they were on the street's far side, walking past the McDonald's. Testifying to investigators, Johnson described their walk from the Market:

The man [the store clerk] stumbled over, and we [Johnson and Brown] continued to walk -- not run or speed-walk. It was a slow walk. He [Brown] opened the door, and I walked right behind him.  We get out the store. We're back on West Florissant [Avenue] now. We're walking back to Canfield [Drive]. .....  
As we're walking down West Florissant, leaving the store, I heard the man [store clerk] say that he would call the police, and it kind of threatened me. It got me nervous. 
We still are not running [or] fast-pace walking. We still [are walking at the] same pace [as when we had been walking] to the store. We walk in front of the store just as normal and calm in plain day. 
We [have] not even fully passed McDonald's. We're not on the same side of the store [we're not on the Market side of West Florissant] any more. We crossed [West Florissant Avenue] right in front of the store. .... 
Upon the time walking on West Florissant, I saw police cars. It made me a little nervous, because I thought he [the store clerk] just called the police. 
The strangest thing happened, though. None of the police cars we saw driving down West Florissant even stopped at the store. One [police car] stopped at McDonald's. One [police car] kept going. I didn't really pay attention to where the other one [police car was] going. 
I know for sure they [the police cars] didn't stop at the store. So that's when I figured that he [the store clerk] probably try to scare us. I don't think he made the call at all.   
We make it to Canfield now. We're walking down Canfield. 
[Pages 8 - 9; emphasis added]

Located directly behind the Market was the Family of Faith Missionary Baptist Church, which had an exterior closed-circuit television (CCTV) camera that captured part of the Market's parking lot.  Detectives who examined the video identified Brown and Johnson walking away from the Market, through its parking lot.

Red line = View from church's CCTV exterior camera
Blue line = Actual path of Brown and Johnson, toward McDonald's
Black line = False path, straight across the street
The above image should prove that Brown and Johnson walked toward the McDonald's -- and did not walk straight across the street.


The Investigative Report (page 77) indicates that the McDonald's restaurant "was equipped with several exterior video surveillance cameras, one of which was focused on the drive-thru located on the south side of the building." A detective obtained the exterior cameras' video and turned it over to the Saint Louis County Property Control Unit on August 13. However, I have not found a summary of that video in the documents released to the public.

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