One week after Michael Brown, 18, was shot and killed by Ferguson, Mo. police, these are the latest developments in the case.
Everything We Know About the Mike Brown Case So Far
Thursday, August 21: Last night protestors gathered in New York City in support of the community in Ferguson, Mo. A video from the event that was posted to Facebook shows NYPD officers attacking one of the protestors.
According to the New York Daily News, NYPD claimed the protestor was demonstrating "tumultuous behavior," was arrested for disorderly conduct and has been released. Also today, Gov. Jay Nixon ordered the withdraw of the National Guard from Ferguson.
Wednesday, August 20: Attorney General Eric Holder arrived in Ferguson today and also penned an op-ed published by the St. Louis Tribune. In "A message to the people of Ferguson," Holder calls for peace and the right for citizens to protest.
The Justice Department will defend the right of protesters to peacefully demonstrate and for the media to cover a story that must be told. But violence cannot be condoned. I urge the citizens of Ferguson who have been peacefully exercising their First Amendment rights to join with law enforcement in condemning the actions of looters, vandals and others seeking to inflame tensions and sow discord.
ABC News reports that if Darren Wilson is to be arrested, it will not happen for some time as the Grand Jury presiding over the Michael Brown case isn't likely to reach a decision on the matter until October.
Tuesday, August 19: Another casualty happened in Missouri today after police fired on a 23-year-old African-American man who is suspected of charging at them with a knife. According to St. Louis police chief Sam Dotson, the unidentified suspect was standing 3 - 4 feet from the officers when he was shot and he had screamed "shoot me now, kill me now." MSNBC's Chris Hayes said neighborhood residents claim the suspect was mentally challenged. An investigation is ongoing.
Neighborhood people saying he was mentally challenged. Saying "Hands up! don't shoot!" Tense bad scene here.— Christopher Hayes (@chrislhayes) August 19, 2014
Last night, 31 people were arrested in Ferguson, including two journalists. According to the Press Freedom Foundation, 12 journalists have been arrested so far. Treatment of the press in Ferguson has been widely criticized. Complex News reporter Brandon Jenkins, who has been on the ground since Thursday, said he has also encountered instances of racial profiling.
The Brown case continues to gain international attention. China, Iran, and Egypt have all made statements on the conflict. Today, the Egyptian government has stepped into the ring to urge authorities to show restraint toward the protestors. Previously, Iran used the opportunity to call the conflict in Missouri an example of "the phenomenon of racism" in America.
Monday, August 18: The president held another press conference today about the conflict in Iraq as well as the ongoing, independent federal investigation happening in Ferguson. He confirmed that Attorney General Eric Holder will arrive in Ferguson on Wednesday to meet with community leaders and members of the Department of Justice. Twitter was quick to criticize the president after he delivered his remarks, calling for him to speak more candidly about the situation.
Earlier in the day, Brown family attorney Benjamin Crump held a press conference with medical examiner Michael M. Baden at the Greater St. Mark Missionary Baptist Church in St. Louis. Dr. Baden, former chief medical examiner of New York City, performed an independent autopsy on Brown's body and found that he had been struck by six bullets, twice in the head and four times in the arm. Baden confirmed that Brown was shot from the front and that one of the bullets in his head was the cause of death.
During the press conference he emphasized that additional evidence (chiefly Brown's clothing and bullet casings) was needed to make more accurate conclusions about the circumstances of his death. A separate Federal autopsy will also be completed at the Department of Justice's request. The local autopsy report, done by Dr. Mary Case, concluded that Brown also had marijuana in his system.
Meanwhile, in response to Governor Nixon's decision to call the National Guard into Ferguson, international non-profit organization Amnesty International has organized a group of representatives to monitor their activities on the ground. Surprisingly though, Governor Nixon has also announced that there will be no curfew on Monday night, after having one in place on Saturday and Sunday night:
Additional arrests were also made on Monday afternoon.
Sunday, August 17: On Sunday evening a protest in support of police officer Darren Wilson began. According to Guardian reporter Jon Swaine, who was live-tweeting on-the-scene, there were 125 people at the protest, all white, with the exception of Martin Baker, a GOP congress hopeful.
T-shirts showing support for Wilson were being sold at the protest until they sold out. The shirts featured a police badge illustration that read “Officer Darren Wilson-I stand by you.”
Swaine also reported that 11 police officers, some on bicycles, were patrolling the protest. Here are his other tweets from the scene:
A couple of protesters later appeared on site to counter the Darren Wilson supporters.
Photos emerged early on Saturday of 28-year-old Darren Wilson one day after he was revealed to be the six-year police veteran who shot and killed Michael Brown. The pictures came from Wilson's parents' facebook page where they congratulate him for receiving a commendation.
A document of the meeting minutes when the ceremony took place shows Wilson's name amongst the list of honorees.
Saturday also saw seven arrested and one shot. In a press brief early this morning, Missouri State Highway Patrol Capt. Ron Johnson, said seven protestors were arrested early this morning after police failed to disperse the crowd with tear gas.
The arrests happened after a report was made of people breaking into a restaurant. The people were said to have been on the roof and posed a safety hazard for officers trying to clear areas of protestors. Johnson said police were addressing the safety hazard and not addressing the fact that protestors were violating curfew.
Amidst the chaos was a man with a handgun in the street as police neared the restaurant area. Additionally, Johnson said a man was shot in the same area, but not by police. He also mentioned a police car was shot at.
Tear gas was used Saturday night after Johnson had promised not to use tear gas earlier in the day.
Here is a video of protestors being gassed:
Just before 9 p.m. local time, another shooting victim was reported by St. Louis County PD. The victim, who was reportedly a woman, was taken to the hospital with minor injuries:
Reports that there is one shooting victim near the Quick Trip. We are told the victims injuries are minor. PD & EMS on way.— St. Louis County PD (@stlcountypd) August 18, 2014
Saturday, August 16: There will be a curfew in effect from 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. in Ferguson tonight. Missouri governor Jay Nixon and Highway Patrol Captain Ron Johnson held a press conference this afternoon announcing the latest step. Onlookers at the conference were heated and demanded action despite the curfew.
Friday, August 15: After a week of refusing to release the name of the policeman who shot and killed Michael Brown, Ferguson Police Chief Thomas Jackson identified the man to be Darren Wilson, a six-year veteran of the force.
Along with revealing Wilson's name, Chief Jackson also stated that Brown was a suspect in a strong-arm convenience store robbery on the day he was killed, insinuating that this was the reason for the confrontation with police. The Ferguson PD handed out details on that alleged robbery only, withholding any reports filed on the actual shooting:
Page from police report pic.twitter.com/xcz6nUKqY2— Ryan J. Reilly (@ryanjreilly) August 15, 2014
More from report pic.twitter.com/7OyD2fgrI2— Ryan J. Reilly (@ryanjreilly) August 15, 2014
Governor Jay Nixon released another short statement on the mostly peaceful protests the night before:
STATEMENT from Gov. Jay Nixon pic.twitter.com/GRgxHZB8AP— Wesley Lowery (@WesleyLowery) August 15, 2014
The Brown family lawyer, Ben Crump, released a statement on behalf of the family, saying they were outraged by the way the Ferguson police tried to overshadow the release of Darren Wilson's name by implicating Brown in a strong-arm robbery:
The surveillance video alleging to show Michael Brown rob a convenience store was released shortly after:
During an afternoon press conference, Ferguson Police Chief Thomas Jackson confirmed that Officer Wilson did not know Michael Brown was a robbery suspect when he stopped him. The two incidents were unrelated. When asked why, then, Brown was stopped, Jackson answered, "Because they were walking down the street blocking traffic."
As for the choice to release the surveillance footage of Brown in the convenience store, Jackson said he "had to."
Amazingly, the St. Louis County Police Association released a statement late Friday afternoon saying that Gov. Nixon's decision to remove the St. Louis County Police Department and give control to the Missouri Highway Patrol put officers' lives in danger:
Thursday, August 14: Anonymous took to Twitter again, announcing the alleged name of the police officer who fatally shot brown. This has yet to be confirmed, but the St. Louis PD were quick to note that Anonymous was mistaken.
“People really need to harshly judge the accuracy of this group, given that they’ve now given false information about several important things,” said Sgt. Colby Dolly.
At about noon central time, Gov. Jay Nixon began addressing the people of Ferguson. He opened by apologizing for his slow response, citing his phone call with President Obama keeping him busy. On the police force, he stated, "You will see a different tone." He also said, "We just can't have lawlessness. We've got use this energy as an excuse to push forward... We must make sure that justice prevails."
Over in Martha's Vineyard, President Obama began delivered his address on the situation, after first discussing ISIS. On Ferguson, the President addressed the actions of the St. Louis PD, stating, "There is never an excuse for police to use excessive force." He continued by commenting on the arrests of the journalists: "In the United States of America, police should not be bullying or arresting journalists." After reassuring the American people that he's "tasked the Department of Justice and the FBI to investigate the death of Michael Brown," the President closed with the following: "Now is the time for healing. Now is the time for peace."
U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder has also released a statement, in which he also calls to protect the media.
In an afternoon press conference, Governor Nixon announced that the Missouri Highway Patrol would be handed control over security in Ferguson:
Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon: Missouri highway patrol to be handed control of security in ferguson— Jon Swaine (@jonswaine) August 14, 2014
The new police were also announced to be marching alongside protestors.
Police are going to March with protestors! Asking for a peaceful march.— Cory Stark (@CoryStarkKMOV) August 14, 2014
But Gov. Nixon stepping in was also met with cynicism—at a high level. After Nixon tweeted following his speech, Missouri State Senator Maria Chappelle-Nadal, who had been in Ferguson when things boiled over the night before, went off on him. Her tweet has since been deleted, but many were able to get screenshots before it went down:
Earlier in the day, a new witness, 27-year-old Tiffany Mitchell, stepped forward with her own eyewitness account of Brown's shooting. She told local St. Louis TV news station KMOV that she saw Brown and a police officer wrestling through the window of a patrol car when a shot rang out.
“The first gun shot came from the window, so I just started getting out of the way ... 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 said.
You can hear Mitchell tell the story to reporters in her own voice in an interview with a KMOV reporter, below:
While things remained relatively calm back in Ferguson tonight, a large group of protestors have gathered in New York City. It doesn't look to be as crazy as last night's extracurricular activities, but we still have seen signs of the cops being overzealous—e.g. this vine
You can also see an archive of a live stream that ended at 8:33 p.m. ET:
We also have an aerial view of how packed Times Square became:
Times Square, NYC shut down. pic.twitter.com/yYm2bJYcMg— Sandra E. Garcia (@S_Evangelina) August 15, 2014
Wednesday, August 13: Early on Wednesday at about 1 a.m. a second police-involved shooting occurred in Ferguson. Police responded to shots being fired and four or five armed suspects in ski masks running near Chambers Road and Sheffingdel Court. As police approached one of the suspects, the man allegedly pointed a handgun at an officer, which led the officer to open fire in response, police spokesman Officer Brian Schellman said. The suspect was critically wounded and taken to a nearby hospital. The officer was not injured. St. Louis police have said that this second shooting is separate from the "Ferguson detail," according to KMOV journalist Mike Colombo.
Since then, the Ferguson Police Department has released its first official statement regarding Mike Brown. In it they ask that people assemble in prayer and protest only during daylight hours.
We ask that any groups wishing to assemble in prayer or in protest do so only during daylight hours in an organized and respectful manner. We further ask all those wishing to demonstrate or assemble to disperse well before the evening hours to ensure the safety of the participants and the safety of our community.
The Ferguson Police Department held a press conference later in the afternoon with Chief of Police Tom Jackson stating that race relations are a top priority for Ferguson at this time. He also denied that an official curfew has been instated.
After unrelenting protests later that evening, Ferguson police began taking extreme measures towards crowd control, including the excessive and unnecessary use of tear gas and the firing of rubber bullets. Additionally, law enforcement began arresting journalists, namely The Washington Post's Wesley Lowery and The Huffington Post's Ryan Reilly, who were reporting the events from a local McDonald's, and Antonio French, Alderman of the 21st Ward in St. Louis,
Fox 2 uploaded shocking video accounts of the protests, and the police's extreme response to them:
Raw video footage of the Al Jazeera film crew being hit with tear gas has also surfaced, which is available to view on KDSK.
Tuesday, August 12: Protestors met outside of the office of prosecuting attorney Bob McCulloch on Tuesday morning. Local authorities did not anticipate more violence, but prepared for the worst after a night of intensified conflict. The group of protestors continued to stress the racial implications behind the incident, taunting police officers with age-old chants like "No justice, No Peace," as well as more direct demands like, "Hands Up, Don't Shoot." Meanwhile, Anonymous threatened to release information about police chief Jon Belmar's daughter if the offending officer's name was not released. (The organization eventually reneged on the threat.)
After supporters of Mike Brown and his family called upon President Obama to release a statement, the President shared his condolences for the family, and reiterating the words of his Attorney General Eric Holder.
The death of Michael Brown is heartbreaking, and Michelle and I send our deepest condolences to his family and his community at this very difficult time. As Attorney General Holder has indicated, the Department of Justice is investigating the situation along with local officials, and they will continue to direct resources to the case as needed. I know the events of the past few days have prompted strong passions, but as details unfold, I urge everyone in Ferguson, Missouri, and across the country, to remember this young man through reflection and understanding. We should comfort each other and talk with one another in a way that heals, not in a way that wounds. Along with our prayers, that’s what Michael and his family, and our broader American community, deserve.
Later Tuesday, the FAA banned all non-emergency flights over Ferguson, Mo., which some journalists have seen as an attempt at a media blackout.
FAA says flight restriction over Ferguson which hinder news coverage is "TO PROVIDE A SAFE ENVIRONMENT FOR LAW ENFORCEMENT ACTIVITIES."— Tom Winter (@Tom_Winter) August 12, 2014
While this is pure speculation, one thing is certain: people have been prohibited from entering Ferguson.
Monday, August 11: The FBI opened its own investigation surrounding Brown’s death, and U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder has called for a “fulsome review.” Brown’s family has retained Florida attorney Benjamin Crump to represent them throughout the proceedings. Crump most famously represented Trayvon Martin’s family. He has not been shy about comparing this case to that of Martin, Jordan Davis, and Eric Garner. St. Louis County police chief Jon Belmar confirmed that Ferguson officials had asked his task force to take over the investigation. During a press conference, he pleaded for patience.
"I understand that the public has a right to be skeptical, and I appreciate that and I would expect that the public be skeptical oftentimes of government or some forms of it. But I would also ask the public to be reasonable, because it takes a long time to make sure we do this investigation the right way.
Authorities used tear gas, riot gear and rubber bullets on Monday night to try and quell the continued violence and looting happening in Ferguson. Journalists were asked to leave the scene, and at least 60 members of police units from the surrounding area have been called in to help keep the situation under control. SWAT gear has been deployed. Today would have been Mike Brown's first day of class at Vetterott college.
Sunday, August 10: In the aftermath of the incident, community members gathered at the scene of Brown’s death for a vigil, lighting candles and saying prayers. Sunday also included peaceful protests with throngs of citizens. Things got out of control once the peaceful participants left the vigil and looters began to ransack and vandalize local businesses. The store at which Brown allegedly stole cigars was set ablaze. At least 30 people were arrested. In the wake of the controversy, Anonymous, the international hacker group, issued a formal threat against police in Ferguson.
Saturday, August 9: Michael Brown and a yet-to-be-identified police officer got into a confrontation near Brown’s grandmother’s home in Ferguson, a small, primarily black suburb near St. Louis (for an idea of its geography, view this map). Allegedly, Brown had stolen cigars from a local QuickTrip when the police were called. The confrontation began when the officers spotted Brown and a friend, 22-year-old Dorian Johnson, walking back to his grandmother’s house.
Reports suggest Brown pushed the officer into his vehicle in an effort to obtain the officer’s firearm. A struggle ensued, and one shot was fired from the squad car, but the shot that killed Brown was fired outside of the car. Later, police used K-9 units to prevent bystanders from approaching Brown’s dead body, which was left for hours on the street. Witnesses claim Brown had his hands in the air when he was gunned down.
One woman told ABC News that she had captured the shooting on her phone, and that she had surrendered the device to authorities. Johnson told MSNBC he overheard the cop yell, "Get the fuck onto the sidewalk," before the altercation began and claims his friend was being choked. He eventually fled the scene. "I seen the barrel of the gun pointed at my friend,” Johnson said. “He had it pointed at him and said ‘I’ll shoot,’ one more time.”
The officer's name has not been released, but we do know that he had about six-years experience on the force, that he was a white male, and that he has been placed on paid administrative leave.
The New York Times noted that Brown’s mother Lesley McSpadden told the local Ferguson television station KMOV, “You took my son away from me. Do you know how hard it was for me to get him to stay in school and graduate? You know how many black men graduate? Not many. Because you bring them down to this type of level, where they feel like they don’t got nothing to live for anyway. 'They’re going to try to take me out anyway.'”