According to the leaked testimony to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch on October 22 the incident began as Wilson was driving down Canfield Drive, having just handled a call about a sick baby, when he saw Brown and Johnson walking down the middle of the street. Wilson told them to move to the sidewalk and was met with verbal abuse from the pair in response. Wilson saw that they were carrying cigarillos and he noticed that Johnson matched the description of a suspect in a strong-arm robbery where cigarillos had been stolen. Wilson parked his vehicle and called for assistance, then tried to get out of the vehicle, but was punched in the face by Brown through the open window. Wilson thought he had no choice but to draw his weapon, because Brown was “incredibly strong”. He was unable to use pepper spray due to the close quarters, and his baton was out of reach. Brown grabbed Wilson’s pistol while punching him repeatedly in the face. Wilson could feel Brown pushing the weapon back toward his body, and it was at one point pointed back at his hip. Wilson pulled back inside the vehicle and attempted to shoot Brown, but he failed the first time because Brown’s finger was jammed in the hammer of the gun. The gun fired on the second attempt, resulting in a wound to Brown’s hand, as well as scattering fragments of glass inside the vehicle. A second gunshot failed to hit Brown before Brown fled. Wilson’s shoulder radio had been knocked off-setting during the struggle, and he decided to give chase. After he got out of the vehicle, Brown turned back toward him, then charged at him despite his commands to stop. Wilson fired at Brown, hitting him four times, including a final, fatal shot to the forehead, which brought Brown down.
Wilson told investigators that he did not recall yelling or saying anything when he was chasing Brown, but when Brown stopped, turned and began running toward him, he yelled stop. According to a source reported in The Washington Post, Wilson testified to the grand jury that he ordered Brown to stop and lower himself to the ground, but Brown instead turned and moved toward the officer. Wilson said that Brown’s hands were not raised at the time of the shooting.
Dead men can’t tell their side of the story, but eyewitnesses can tell what they saw that day.
Dorian Johnson, a friend of Brown, was walking with him in the street. Johnson said that Wilson pulled up beside them and said, “Get the fuck on the sidewalk.”
The young men replied that they were “not but a minute away from their destination, and would shortly be out of the street”. Wilson drove forward without saying anything further, only to abruptly back up, positioning his vehicle crosswise in their path, almost hitting the two men. “We were so close, almost inches away, that when he tried to open his door aggressively, the door ricocheted both off me and Big Mike’s body and closed back on the officer.”
Wilson, still in his vehicle, grabbed Brown around his neck through the open window. Brown tried to pull away, but Wilson continued to pull Brown toward him “like tug of war”. Brown “did not reach for the officer’s weapon at all”, and was attempting to get free of Wilson rather than attack him or take his weapon from him.
Wilson drew his weapon and said, “I’ll shoot you” or “I’m going to shoot”, and almost instantaneously fired his weapon, hitting Brown.
Following the initial gunshot, Brown was able to free himself, at which point the two fled. Wilson exited the vehicle, after which he fired several rounds at the fleeing Brown, hitting him once in the back.
Brown turned around with his hands raised and said, “I don’t have a gun. Stop shooting!” Wilson then shot Brown several more times, killing him.
Johnson’s attorney stated that Wilson did not attempt to resuscitate Brown, did not call for medical help, and “he didn’t call it in that someone had been shot.”
Johnson told local TV stations shortly after the shooting that Brown had been surrendering, when Wilson opened fire without cause or warning.
Johnson’s attorney, Freeman Bosley, stated that Johnson had confirmed with law enforcement his and Brown’s roles in taking the cigars prior to the shooting incident
Piaget Crenshaw said that, from her vantage point, it appeared that Wilson and Brown were arm wrestling before the former shot Brown from inside his vehicle. Wilson then chased Brown for about 20 feet before shooting him again. “I saw the police chase him … down the street and shoot him down.” When Brown then raised his arms, the officer shot him two more times, killing him.
By the time Michael Brady got outside, Brown had turned around and was facing Wilson. Brown was “balled up” with his arms under his stomach and he was “halfway down” to the ground. As he was falling, Brown took one or two steps toward Wilson because he was presumably hit and was stumbling forward; Wilson then shot him three or four times. Brady said that the pictures he took of Brown with his arms tucked in under his body is the position he was in as he was shot three or four more times by Wilson before hitting the ground
Tiffany Mitchell arrived in the area to pick up coworker Piaget Crenshaw. In an August 13 televised interview with a local CBS affiliate, Mitchell said she saw Brown and Wilson struggling through the window of Wilson’s vehicle. “The kid was pulling off and the cop was pulling in.” She started to take out her phone to record video, but then she heard a gunshot, “so I just started getting out of the way.” After the first shot was fired, Brown started to run away. “After the shot, the kid just breaks away. The cop follows him, kept shooting, the kid’s body jerked as if he was hit. After his body jerked he turns around, puts his hands up, and the cop continues to walk up on him and continues to shoot until he goes all the way down.”
Mitchell also appeared on CNN that evening, describing what she witnessed as follows: “As I pull onto the side, the kid, he finally gets away, he starts running. As he runs the police get out of his vehicle and he follows behind him, shooting. And the kid’s body jerked as if he was hit from behind, and he turns around and puts his hands up like this, and the cop continued to fire until he just dropped down to the ground and his face just smacks the concrete.
Grand jury witnesses
On October 16, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch published an interview with a black Canfield resident who testified before the grand jury. The man, who did not want his name released, said he saw the entire event. Wilson drove past Johnson and Brown and then backed up again. A scuffle ensued in the police vehicle and Wilson’s hat flew off. There was a gunshot at the vehicle, and then Brown ran down the street followed by Wilson. Wilson aimed his gun at Brown and repeatedly yelled “Stop”, but did not fire until Brown turned around and stepped toward Wilson. At that point Wilson fired three shots. Brown staggered toward Wilson from 20 feet away with his hands out to his sides, when Wilson fired again. The witness said that Brown was already falling as the last shots were fired and that, in his opinion, the final shots were murder.
Tonight helicopters are hovering over the Farragut Projects on the other side of Fort Greene Park. I hear the whoop of sirens. The pigs.