Thursday, April 30, 2015

Brown ran from the police vehicle before the second gunshot

Police Officer Darren Wilson was mistaken, in my opinion, about two of the incident's elements. I attribute both mistakes to the punches he received to his head. 

1) Wilson said that he sent his radio message to the dispatcher immediately before he backed up his vehicle to block the paths of Michael Brown and Dorian Johnson. In fact, he sent the radio message after he fired his second gunshot and before he got out of his police vehicle.

2) Wilson said that he fired the second gunshot from inside his police vehicle while Brown still was standing at the vehicle's window. In fact, Wilson fired that gunshot after Brown had run away from the vehicle. 


Wilson says he made two radio calls to the dispatcher.

1) Right before he drove backward to block Johnson and Brown, he radioed "21, put me on Canfield with two and send me another car". This call was recorded in the dispatcher's radio traffic. (Track 369)

2) After he fired his second gunshot, he radioed "Shots fired. Send me more cars". This call was not recorded.

I will argue here that he made only the "put me on Canfield" call and that he did so after he fired his second gunshot. 


I decided that Wilson was mistaken about the second gunshot's timing after I read the grand-jury testimonies of two witnesses:

1) Witness 7 was a Saint Louis County Police Department detective who interviewed Wilson on the day of the incident, August 9, from about 2:30 to 3:00 p.m. in Christian Northwest Hospital's trauma ward, where Wilson was examined for his injuries. 

2) Witness 8 was an FBI agent, assigned to a Saint Louis office, who interviewed Wilson on August 28 in the FBI's Saint Louis office. 

(The designations "Witness 7" and "Witness 8" were assigned by the grand jury. They are not designated in the US Justice Department's report.) 

Both witnesses testified to the grand jury on September 16, 2014, shortly before Wilson himself testified. Here I will quote Wilson's testimony first, before I quote the other two witnesses' testimony. 


Wilson testified to the grand jury that after he fired his first gunshot, Brown backed away from the police vehicle for a few seconds. Then Brown advanced toward the window again, and so Wilson fired the second shot. 

You will read in the following passage that Wilson mentioned a "cloud of dust" when he fired the second gunshot. As we will see from the FBI agent's statement, this cloud of dust was the second bullet hitting the ground in the distance. 

The following passage begins before the first gunshot.

Wilson  I was just so focused on getting the gun ... He [Brown]  is still holding onto it. 
I pulled the trigger, and nothing happens. It just clicked. I pull it again. It just clicked again.  
At this point I'm like: "Why isn't this working? This guy is going to kill me if he gets ahold of this gun." 
I pulled it [the trigger] a third time. It [the gun] goes off. When it went off, it shot through my door panel, and my window was down and glass flew out of my door panel. I think that kind of startled him and me at the same time. .... Then I notice I have blood on the back of my hand. 
After seeing the blood on my hand, I looked at him, and he .... stepped back ..... 
He comes back towards me again with his hands up. At that point ... I tried to pull the trigger again. Click. Nothing happened. .... Without even looking, I just grab the top of my gun, the slide, and I racked it. .... I  pulled the trigger again. It goes off. ....  
Prosecutor  So how many times does it go off in the car? 
Wilson  It went off twice in the car.  
* Pull, click, click, went off.  
* Click, went off.  
So twice in the car.  
When I look up after that, I see him start [running], cloud of dust behind him
I then get out of my car. ..... We start running, kind of the same direction that Johnson had pointed. -- across the street, like a diagonal towards where the parking lot came in for Copper Creek Court and Canfield, right at that intersection. And there is a light pole right there, I remember him [Brown] running towards the light pole. 
[Pages 224 - 226]
Later in his testimony, Wilson confirmed that he fired the second time while Brown still was at his vehicle's window.
Prosecutor  At that point [after Michael Brown had been shot in the hand and so had backed away from the vehicle], Michael Brown is not right up on the vehicle, is that fair to say? 
Wilson  No, this is when he is coming back at the vehicle. He is only about a foot away. After the first shot hit him, he went down and kind of held his hip for a second, and then he came back up and started to come back in the vehicle. 
And that's when I ... pulled the trigger. ...  
Prosecutor Did you give him any kind of warning before that second shot?  
Wilson  I don't recall 
[Pages 260 - 261]
It is not plausible that Wilson's second shot did not hit Brown if Brown indeed were standing a mere foot away and starting "to come back in the vehicle". In fact, however, Brown was long gone when Wilson fired the second gunshot. 


Witness 7, the detective, told the grand jury that Wilson, on the afternoon of August 9 did not remember the second gunshot at all. Wilson did remember that he got out of his vehicle and then "radioed to his dispatcher that shots had been fired". No such radio message was recorded in the dispatcher's radio traffic report, however. 

The following passage of the detective's summary to the grand jury begins with the first gunshot. 

Detective  Officer Wilson continues and states that he then pulled the trigger again, at which time one round of ammunition was fired. Immediately following that, he sees a large explosion of glass and then looks down and sees what he believed was blood on his hands. He said at that point he didn't know if he was injured or the subject was injured --just knew that he saw blood. 
Officer Wilson continued that the subject's [Brown's] hands were still on the gun, and he [Wilson] pulled the trigger two more times, and it misfired both times.
The subject [Brown] then re-entered the vehicle and assaulted Officer Darren Wilson by punching him several more times in the face and then stopped the assault and ran eastbound on Canfield Road away from the vehicle. 
Prosecutor  So one shot ... was fired inside, while he was sitting inside the vehicle? 
Detective  Yes. ....   
Prosecutor  So now the suspect is running east?  
Detective  Yes. He [Wilson] says that the subject [Brown] is then running east on Canfield, and Officer Darren Wilson then exits his vehicle and upon doing so, he says he radioed to his dispatcher that shots were fired, and he continued to exit the vehicle.
He says he observed the subject running east on Canfield at which time he pursued on foot.
[Pages 107 - 109]

Later in his testimony, the detective confirmed that Wilson told his story to him without any mention of the second gunshot. 

Detective  He [Wilson] says that as he's exiting the vehicle he announces shot-fires [to the dispatcher] and requested assistance at that point. That would be once he is getting out of the car.
Prosecutor  Did he fire once he got out of his car or did he call and then fire?
Detective  .... Essentially what happens is, he tells us, after the first shot that went off, while he was in the vehicle, the subject [Brown] comes back in and assaults him and then takes off running east on Canfield away from the car.
Officer Wilson then tells us that he opens his door, and as he is exiting the vehicle, he gets on his radio and announces, or notifies his dispatcher, of shots fired and requests an assist car. .... 
[Pages 122 - 123]
This narrative omits the second gunshot that was fired inside the police vehicle.  


Nineteen days later, Wilson belatedly incorporated the second gunshot into his August 28 interview with the FBI special agent. Now Wilson remembered that, trying to un-jam his gun, he fired the second gunshot through his car's open window and saw the bullet hit the ground in the distance. 

Brown did punch Wilson again after the first gunshot but then ran away when he saw Wilson trying to un-jam his pistol. By the time Wilson fired the second gunshot, Brown had run around the police vehicle and was running past the Monte Carlo. 

The FBI agent's testimony to the grand jury about the August 28 interview includes the following passage, which begins with the first gunshot. 

FBI Agent Officer Wilson pulled the trigger a third time, and the gun fired through the driver-door panel. The window being down, glass flew everywhere. 
Officer Wilson ... noticed that there was blood on his right hand, and he assumed that he had gotten cut when the glass flew everywhere.
After the gun goes off, Brown stepped back from the car ... somewhat in shock. Brown puts his hands together at his right hip, and Officer Wilson thought maybe he [Brown] was hit there [in his hip], which is why he [Brown] put his hand there.
He said Brown then became enraged. Officer Wilson describes his [Brown's] face looking like a demon. Officer Wilson was confused that Brown wasn't then running away ... because he had just been shot, but Brown re-engaged. ...
Prosecutor  So are you saying that he [Wilson] says when he fired the weapon into the door, he believed or thought that the bullet pierced the outer skin of the car and got Michael Brown?
FBI Agent  Yes..... He didn't know where the bullet went, but he was aiming through the door when Michael Brown is engaged in the car. He [Brown] pulled both of his [Brown's] hands down towards his right hip and [Wilson] thought maybe that's where he [Brown] was hit -- just based off that action, not because he [Wilson] saw a wound .... .
Both of Brown's hands came back through the window. Officer Wilson just showed us his [Wilson's] left arm up defensively trying to block Brown from punching him.
Wilson put his gun up and pulled the trigger again. The gun didn't fire. He [Wilson] described blind-racking the gun -- pulling the slide back without looking. He thought something had happened to the gun. He didn't know if the gun [was] stove-piping -- which could be two bullets trying to go in and then neither will fire. He didn't know if he ejected a full cartridge, which would be the projectile along with the casing or just the spent casing was stuck in there. He didn't look. ....
Prosecutor  So what does he say happens after he blind-racks the gun?
FBI Agent  He fired the gun again. He pulled the trigger again, the gun fired, and he -- he wasn't looking where he was shooting -- he saw a cloud of dust in the dirt across the street. [He] assumed Michael Brown had not been hit, because that [the cloud of dust] is where he [Wilson] assumed the projectile landed.
Prosecutor  So did he tell you -- the second shot -- was he aiming in a particular place or was Michael Brown still beside the vehicle? 
FBI Agent  Yes, he [Brown] was [still beside the vehicle]. He [Wilson] describes him [Brown] and again shows him [Wilson] blocking Michael Brown's blows with his [Wilson's] left hand.
After he fired that shot, that's when Michael Brown again ran away. 
Upon which time Officer Wilson called over the radio: "Shots fired. Send me more cars."
[Pages 159 - 163]
So, on August 28 Wilson belatedly included the second gunshot into his story. Now he remembered the bullet raising a cloud of dust across the street. However, Wilson still indicated that Brown was standing "beside the vehicle" but didn't explain why this second bullet did not hit Brown. The real explanation was that Brown already had run away.   


No such radio message -- "Shots fired. Send me more cars" -- was recorded in the radio traffic. 

Wilson radioed only one message -- "21, put me on Canfield with two and send me another car" -- and he did so right before he got out of his police vehicle.  He did not radio any message around the time that he drove his police vehicle backward. 

The US Justice Department's report about the shooting provided the following explanation for the absence of the "Shots fired" call from the radio traffic.

Wilson stated that he also radioed for backup after the initial shots when Brown ran from the SUV .... According to Wilson, as he left the shooting scene, he realized that his radio must have switched from channel 1, which he had been using, to channel 3 during the initial struggle. Channel 3 is a dedicated channel for the North County Fire Department. It only receives transmissions, and therefore, officers cannot use that channel to transmit messages to dispatch. 
While this is not definitive evidence that Wilson attempted to call for assistance ... after the initial shots in the SUV ... it offers a plausible explanation for the lack of radio transmissions. 
Moreover ... there are several witnesses who state that Wilson paused in the SUV after Brown took off running,  arguably giving him enough time to attempt to radio dispatch. 
[Page 22] 
I reject that explanation and insist that there never was a "Shots fired" radio call.

Wilson had been punched in his head repeatedly during the seconds immediately before he did his single radio call to dispatch. His memory was confused about the radio call, and he even forgot firing his second gunshot. 

Wilson made only the single "Put me on Canfield with two" radio call, and he made it after he fired his second gunshot and before he got out of his police vehicle. 

If Wilson really had sent the "Put me on Canfield with two" call right before he drove his police car backward, then only 32 seconds would have passed from that moment and the moment when Policeman McDonald arrived at the scene. Such a short time span cannot contain all the actions that happened. (See my previous article about the time-line.) 


Several witnesses said they heard a gunshot as they watched Brown running away. They therefore thought mistakenly that Wilson shot at Brown's back while Brown was running away. These witnesses were correct that a gunshot was fired while Brown was running away, but Wilson fired that bullet from inside his police vehicle and into the dirt beyond the street.  


Stairwell Man told two FBI special agents that Brown ran away from the police vehicle before Wilson fired the second gunshot.

Stairwell Man  He [Wilson] backed up, and they just had a confrontation. I seen them get into a scuffle at the truck. Then I heard a shot go off, and so the scuffle continued after the shot. Then the boy, Mike Brown, ran. .... 
Then Mike Brown ran past the car and kept going down the street. ....
The police then shot again and then ran down the street and shot. 
[Page 2]
FBI SA  How many shots did you hear?  .... 
Stairwell Man  The first shot, and then after Mike ran, it was like either one or two. .... 
[Page 5]
Stairwell Man told the grand jury that, after the first gunshot, Brown remained by the police vehicle about four seconds and then ran away.
Prosecutor  Did the scuffle continue after you heard the [first] shot? 
Stairwell Man  Momentarily, yes.  Maybe three to four, five seconds..
Prosecutor  So when the shot first rang out, Michael Brown did not immediately run from the car? 
Stairwell Man  I don't think so, no. 
[Page 255] 
Stairwell Man did not think that Brown ran away immediately. Rather, Brown ran away three to five seconds after the first gunshot. Brown ran away and the police then shot again

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