Various witnesses said that Johnson ran away before the gunshot. Various other witnesses said that Brown was the only person standing by the vehicle when the gunshot was fired. A few witnesses said that Johnson was standing a short distance from the vehicle, but not one witness -- not even Piaget Crenshaw or Tiffany Mitchell -- said that Johnson was standing next to Brown when the gunshot was fired.
However, Johnson told the public, investigators and the grand jury a false story in which he was standing right next to Brown and saw Wilson point his pistol out the window and shoot Brown.
The US Justice Department's report about the shooting summarized the evidence contradicting Johnson's false story about the first gunshot as follows:
According to Witness 101 [Johnson], at no point did Brown ever strike, punch, or grab any part of Wilson. He could offer no explanation as to how Wilson sustained injury, other than to speculate that it was the result of their "tug of war." .....In addition to the evidence summarized in that particular passage, other parts of the report said that Brown's blood splatters were found inside the police vehicle and that the bullet passed through the driver's door, from inside to outside.
Wilson ... then took out his gun and said, "I'm going to shoot." Witness 101 saw Wilson holding the gun and aiming it out the window when Wilson again started to say, "I'm going to shoot."
Witness 101 explained that Wilson fired, hitting Brown in the torso. Witness 101 described blood on the right side of Brown's torso. ....
Contrary to the autopsy results, particularly with regard to the [Brown's] thumb wound and the round recovered from the inside of the driver's door, Witness 101 was adamant that Wilson neither fired a shot within the SUV, nor did Brown have his hand(s) near the gun when the first shot was fired.
Witness 101 explained that Wilson fired the shot and "the bullet traveled outside the car and struck (Brown) in the chest." Witness 101 was equally adamant that Brown's hands and arms never entered the SUV, telling investigators that the only hand that would have been "free" would have been Brown's left and, and that hand neither entered the vehicle nor "reached for" Wilson's gun. ....
In sum, Johnson's story about what happened at the police vehicle's window was contradicted thoroughly by the physical evidence. As many eyewitnesses reported, Johnson was not standing near Brown at the vehicle's window when Wilson fired the first gunshot at Brown. Johnson did not see the gunshot that Wilson fired from inside his vehicle, just as he did not see the final, fatal gunshots.