When Johnson and Brown were walking in the center of the street, Johnson was walking directly in front of Brown. Darren Wilson drove his vehicle backward and turned askew the middle of the street to block Johnson's and Brown's path. Johnson and Brown bumped the vehicle and veered off to their right and then stopped near the vehicle's back end, on the driver's side. Brown and Johnson turned to face the driver's door. At that point in time, Brown was closer to the driver's door, and Johnson was closely behind Brown.
Since Johnson and Brown were standing near the vehicle's back end, they could have run around the vehicle's back end and away.
As Wilson began to open the vehicle door, however, Brown rushed from the vehicle's back end to the door and shoved the door shut against Wilson. Because Brown was holding cigarillos in each hand, he put his right hand onto the vehicle roof and placed that hand's cigarillos onto the roof. Johnson then moved next to Brown and took those cigarillos from the roof.
Meanwhile, Brown ducked down to the window's level and used his empty right hand to smack at Wilson through the open window, but hitting Wilson only slightly. Brown felt constrained by the cigarillos in his left hand, so he handed those cigarillos to Johnson so that he could punch Wilson effectively. Before Brown delivered his subsequent, much more effective punches, Johnson ran away with all the cigarillos.
In his testimony to the grand jury, Johnson indicated that he moved next to Brown and got all the cigarillos:
At this time I'm not behind him [Brown] any more; we're side to side, so I can see everything that is going on. I'm still in the windowed [area]. I'm still right here standing in the same spot. I never moved.
At that time Big Mike still has the cigarillos in both of his hands, divided evenly. He never put them down in his pocket or anything like that.
Now, from the beginning of the grab-war, Big Mike places his hands openly -- one hand on top of the cruiser and the other hand more right up under the window's side mirror. He's trying to pull off the officer's grip.
He placed the cigarillos on the car, and his hands are on the car. He never dropped a single pack. He still has them in his hand, not dropping them. ....
At a point he turned -- now we [Brown and Johnson] are face-to-face, and he put his hands, like, "grab these, Bro."
In shock ... my hands open to where he could put the cigarillos in my hand, but I'm still standing in the same spot. .... The cigarillos were placed in my hand.
Wilson told the grand jury that he briefly saw Brown holding some cigarillos in his right hand before Brown ducked his head down to the window's level. Brown initially kept both hands up on the vehicle's roof, but then he lowered both hands. Now Brown's right hand was empty, and he punched and grabbed at Wilson, but ineffectively. Then Wilson saw Brown give the cigarillos in his left hand to Johnson:
Wilson He [Brown] then grabs my door again and shuts my door. ... I saw him coming into my vehicle. His head was higher than the top of my car. And I see him ducking. As he is ducking, his hands are up, and he is coming in my vehicle. ....
I was hit in the side of the face with a fist. I don't think it was a full-on swing ... not a full shot. I think my arm deflected some of it, but there was still a significant amount of contact that was made to my face. ....--------
Prosecutor Where did you see the cigarillos at?
Wilson They were in his [Brown's] right hand. ....
After, he [Brown] hit me, then it [the hitting] stopped for a second. I remember getting hit, and he grabbed and pulled, and then it stopped. ....
He turns like this, and now the cigarillos I see in his left hand. .... And he reaches back, and he says, "hey, man, hold these."
I'm assuming [Brown gave the cigarillos] to Johnson, but I couldn't see Johnson from my line of sight.
Prosecutor You could tell he was giving Johnson cigarillos?
Wilson Yes, I saw them in his hand go around. And he said, "hey, man, hold these."
(Pages 209 - 212)
As soon as Johnson had grabbed the cigarillos off the police vehicle's roof and then from Brown's hand, he ran away.
Near-Sighted testified to the grand jury that Johnson ran away just a moment after Brown began attacking Wilson.
Prosecutor Did you notice him [Johnson]?As soon as Brown freed himself from both handfuls of cigarillos, he was able to begin punching Wilson effectively. By the time Wilson fired his first gunshot, Johnson already had run far away with all the cigarillos.
Near-Sighted He was standing there for a while, but once they started fighting, he just ran.
When thinking about Johnson's actions, keep in mind that he did not foresee that Brown would attack Wilson persistently through the window or that Wilson subsequently would shoot Brown. Not foreseeing those actions, Johnson did not feel compelled to stay by the vehicle so that he could witness what would happen during the next minute or two. Rather, Johnson felt compelled to run away with the cigarillos.
Johnson considered the stealing of the cigarillos from the store to be a "prank". Now this situation that was developing by the police vehicle was just another prank. Brown merely was holding the policeman's door closed while Johnson was escaping with the cigarillos. Later they would just laugh about it as they told their friends.
Only after Johnson had run away for about 15 seconds did he hear a gunshot and realize that the incident unexpectedly had become deathly serious.