Halpern does not challenge the US Justice Department's report about the Ferguson incident. He writes that Wilson has been exonerated.
Wilson has twice been exonerated of criminal wrongdoing. In November, after a grand jury chose not to indict him, the prosecutor, Robert P. McCulloch, was widely accused of having been soft on him, in part because McCulloch’s father was a police officer who had been killed in a shootout with a black suspect. In March, the U.S. Department of Justice issued two official reports on Ferguson. One was a painstaking analysis of the shooting that weighed physical, ballistic, forensic, and crime-scene evidence, and statements from purported eyewitnesses.
The report cleared Wilson of willfully violating Brown’s civil rights, and concluded that his use of force was defensible. It also contradicted many details that the media had reported about the incident, including that Brown had raised his hands in surrender and had been shot in the back. The evidence supported Wilson’s contention that Brown had been advancing toward him.Halpern summarized the incident as follows.
According to Wilson and several witnesses deemed credible by the Justice Department, Brown reached into the Tahoe’s open window, grabbed Wilson, and punched him. This narrative, the report says, is supported by bruising on Wilson’s jaw and samples of Brown’s DNA found on Wilson’s collar, shirt, and pants. It’s not known why Brown did this, and many have speculated that Wilson provoked Brown somehow.
At this point, Wilson told investigators, his training kicked in and he reviewed his options. He did not carry a Taser, so the weapons at his disposal were mace, a retractable baton, and his gun. The only one readily accessible, Wilson said, was the gun. When he unholstered it, he told investigators, Brown reached for it. He told the grand jury that Brown said to him, “You are too much of a pussy to shoot me.” In the ensuing struggle, Wilson shot Brown in the hand. This sequence of events has factual support. Brown’s DNA was detected on the inside of the driver’s-side door, and soot from the gun’s muzzle was found in Brown’s wound, indicating that his hand was within inches of the weapon when it fired. It was the first time that Wilson had used his gun in the line of duty.
Wilson told the grand jury that Brown, upon being shot, had “the most intense, aggressive face,” and looked “like a demon.” Brown retreated, running east. Wilson chased him. Brown ran at least a hundred and eighty feet down Canfield Drive—his blood was found in the roadway—and then headed back toward Wilson. According to the Justice Department, eyewitnesses claiming that Brown raised his hands in surrender proved unreliable. (One of these witnesses, Dorian Johnson, continues to insist that Brown’s hands were raised.) Witnesses deemed credible offered varying accounts of Brown’s movement—“charging,” “slow motion,” “running”—but concurred that he was approaching Wilson. According to Wilson, he repeatedly ordered Brown to stop and get on the ground. Brown, who was unarmed, kept moving. At one point, Wilson told investigators, Brown put his right hand into his waistband, as if reaching for a weapon.
Sometime after the chase began, Wilson shot ten bullets at Brown. A few missed him, but he was hit in the chest, the forehead, and the arm. Autopsy reports indicate that, contrary to initial media reports, no bullets hit Brown in the back. It is possible that Wilson fired some of the errant bullets before Brown turned around, and the Justice Department report says that “the autopsy results alone do not indicate the direction Brown was facing when he received two wounds to his right arm.” Yet the report repeatedly underscores that eyewitness accounts describing Brown being shot from behind were unreliable.I recommend reading the entire article.