The Corner

Ferguson Police Chief: Robbery Footage Not Related To Shooting

In a press conference that can most charitably be described as bizarre, the chief of police in Ferguson, Missouri has apparently walked back the release this morning of bombshell security camera footage apparently showing Michael Brown robbing a store shortly before he was shot and killed by a local police officer.

Ferguson Police Chief Thomas Jackson said the officer who shot Brown, Darren Wilson, did not approach him in response to the robbery call — a conclusion that was strongly implied by the footage released this morning and reports that the store owner who was subjected to a “strong-arm” robbery had just called 911. Jackson said the stop was only related to Brown’s walking in the center of a street and obstructing traffic and that Wilson did not know Brown was a suspect in the robbery.

Jackson said the department released the footage in response to many media requests.

“Too many people had requested it and I had to release it to you,” Jackson said. He also said the department had made all its evidence available.

“We’ve given you every bit of information we have now,” Jackson said. “I don’t think there’s anything else we have to give out.”

But Jackson made clear that Wilson’s fatal encounter with Brown was unrelated to the footage, telling reporters, “His initial contact was not related to the robbery.”

Jackson struggled to clarify why the footage had been released, repeatedly saying the department had been inundated by requests for it.

This does not appear to make much sense, however. The connection between the footage and the shooting of Brown initially seemed to be clear: Among other things, courts have ruled that lethal force can be justified against fleeing felony suspects. This justification goes away, however, if Wilson, as Jackson appeared to say, was not responding to the robbery call and did not know Brown was a suspect. The video — which shows Brown in a belligerent and lawless mood shortly before his shooting — may still cast some doubt on claims that Brown was prone with his hands raised in a surrender posture at the time of the shooting, though it is not clear whether the police department is claiming that the shooting occurred during an ongoing fight.

The video may also prove useful in Wilson’s defense by establishing that the primary witness claiming Brown had his hands raised at the time of the shooting was in fact his accomplice in the robbery — a point that would do much to discredit that testimony. However, other witnesses have also claimed Wilson was not in physical danger when he shot Brown.

As an exercise in crisis communication, Jackson’s press conference was clearly unsuccessful. Media and normal people were left with more questions than answers, and Jackson’s claim that the department had released all relevant information seems to be contradicted by his simultaneous admission that the video was not related to the police contact that resulted in Brown’s shooting. Brown supporters and critics of the Ferguson police have spent much of the day claiming the release of the footage was designed to discredit Brown and perhaps take some of the edge off the release of Wilson’s name — a suspicion that only seems to have been underscored by Jackson’s statements.


Most Popular

Law & the Courts

Obstruction Confusions

In his Lawfare critique of one of my several columns about the purported obstruction case against President Trump, Gabriel Schoenfeld loses me — as I suspect he will lose others — when he says of himself, “I do not think I am Trump-deranged.” Gabe graciously expresses fondness for me, and the feeling is ... Read More
Politics & Policy

Students’ Anti-Gun Views

Are children innocents or are they leaders? Are teenagers fully autonomous decision-makers, or are they lumps of mental clay, still being molded by unfolding brain development? The Left seems to have a particularly hard time deciding these days. Take, for example, the high-school students from Parkland, ... Read More
PC Culture

Kill Chic

We live in a society in which gratuitous violence is the trademark of video games, movies, and popular music. Kill this, shoot that in repugnant detail becomes a race to the visual and spoken bottom. We have gone from Sam Peckinpah’s realistic portrayal of violent death to a gory ritual of metal ripping ... Read More

Romney Is a Misfit for America

Mitt’s back. The former governor of Massachusetts and occasional native son of Michigan has a new persona: Mr. Utah. He’s going to bring Utah conservatism to the whole Republican party and to the country at large. Wholesome, efficient, industrious, faithful. “Utah has a lot to teach the politicians in ... Read More
Law & the Courts

What the Second Amendment Means Today

The horrifying school massacre in Parkland, Fla., has prompted another national debate about guns. Unfortunately, it seems that these conversations are never terribly constructive — they are too often dominated by screeching extremists on both sides of the aisle and armchair pundits who offer sweeping opinions ... Read More

Fire the FBI Chief

American government is supposed to look and sound like George Washington. What it actually looks and sounds like is Henry Hill from Goodfellas: bad suit, hand out, intoning the eternal mantra: “F*** you, pay me.” American government mostly works by interposition, standing between us, the free people at ... Read More
Film & TV

Black Panther’s Circle of Hype

The Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) first infantilizes its audience, then banalizes it, and, finally, controls it through marketing. This commercial strategy, geared toward adolescents of all ages, resembles the Democratic party’s political manipulation of black Americans, targeting that audience through its ... Read More