By Elaine Magliaro
Simon Hemingway has an interesting article at Salon today about the death of Michael Brown titled Ferguson police’s other sin: Why grand jury must probe Brown shooting’s aftermath. Hemingway says that while people wait to hear the grand jury’s decision in the case, “one part of the horrific episode is getting way too little attention.”
A fog of war has descended on the events that led to the Mike Brown’s untimely death in Ferguson, Missouri, on Aug. 9, 2014, a fog that local, state and federal authorities have made little effort to dispel. The goalposts for what appeared initially to be a clear-cut case of either manslaughter or second degree murder are increasingly obscured while the prospect of justice for Mike Brown seems correspondingly remote.
Supporters of the police and Officer Wilson quickly sought to equate Mike Brown’s very existence with the same racially tainted doctrine of deterministic criminality that was used to undercut the prosecution of George Zimmerman. The release of a convenience store surveillance video by the Ferguson Police Department was central to a strategy of “retroactively trying to justify Brown’s death” while, at the same time, tainting potential jurors with a narrative that is likely to be inadmissible in court. Ferguson police chief Thomas Jackson initially said that the “initial contact with Mike Brown was not related to the robbery,” and then backtracked later the same day.
Here’s an excerpt from a New York Times article, which was written by Julie Bosman, John Schwartz, and Serge F. Kovaleski and dated August 15, 2014. It speaks to what Ferguson police did in the “aftermath” of Michael Brown’s shooting:
Mr. Stone ran outside and saw two police officers, both white men, standing near Mr. Brown, who was lying on his stomach, his arms at his sides, blood seeping from his head. Another neighbor, a woman who identified herself as a nurse, was begging the officers to let her perform CPR.
They refused, Mr. Stone said, adding, “They didn’t even check to see if he was breathing.”
Hemingway said that if a fog did descend “on the events leading up to Mike Brown’s shooting, our view of the events immediately following is, so far, unimpeded.” He continued, “No one disputes the following: After the shooting, Mike Brown lay face down on the sidewalk. Officer Wilson did not check to see if Mike Brown was breathing or if he had a pulse; nor did he render aid in any way, shape or form.” He noted that what was reported in the New York Times article back in August made it clear that “Officer Wilson not only did not render aid himself; he actively prevented alleged medical professionals from rendering aid as well.”
Hemingway went on to say that the New York Times “charitably” opined that “Mr. Brown probably could not have been revived…” He said that was a “retroactive rationalization and speculation” He added. ‘Even if the time of Brown’s death could be established to the minute with certainty, which it cannot, the fact that he might have or probably would have died anyway does not excuse Officer Wilson’s omission of his duty to rescue. Adding insult to lethal injury, the police left Mike Brown’s body on the street for four hours. The medical examiner did not arrive for more than two hours. An ambulance was apparently never called.”
Another point that Hemingway puts for in his Salon article is that while Officer Wilson’s “motivations and state of mind in this instance are of great interest, they are of little moment. Here, it doesn’t matter if Wilson felt fear. Nor does it matter if six dozen Swisher Sweets lay scattered beside Mike Brown’s lifeless body, or even if a pistol was hidden under Mike Brown’s shirt.” Hemingway added that “Mike Brown was dying as a result of actions — right or wrong — taken by Officer Wilson; Wilson failed in his duty as a peace officer and as a human being.”
Read Hemingway’s article and let me know what you think. Do you think Officer Wilson “failed in his duty as a peace officer and as a human being?”
Ferguson police’s other sin: Why grand jury must probe Brown shooting’s aftermath
As we wait to hear the grand jury’s decision, one part of the horrific episode is getting way too little attention (Salon)
A Youth, an Officer and 2 Paths to a Fatal Encounter (New York Times)