In an interview with MSNBC that was published Tuesday morning, Dorian Johnson, a friend of Mike Brown, provided details of the shooting that killed the unarmed Brown on Saturday afternoon in Ferguson, MO. Johnson, 22, was with Brown that day when the two were stopped by a Ferguson police officer while walking to Brown’s grandmother’s home. Johnson claims that the police officer told the two to get on the sidewalk as they were walking down the middle of the street. After the two had told the officer that they were nearly at their destination, the officer pulled away in his car but then slammed on the brakes and backed his vehicle back up to them.
At that time, per Johnson, the officer’s vehicle was right beside Brown. The officer attempted to open his car door, but it hit against Brown and slammed shut. Johnson states that the officer, while still in the vehicle, grabbed Brown by the neck. As Brown tried to get away, the officer clenched Brown’s shirt and attempted to pull him into the vehicle. At this time, per Johnson’s account, the officer told Brown he was going to shoot him. He reached for his gun and then claimed that he’ll shoot again.
Johnson claims that he saw the officer shoot Brown in the right side at that time. He says Brown was being held by the officer the whole time during the struggle and when the first shot went off. After the first shot, both Johnson and Brown ran. Johnson was able to duck behind a car. He states that he told Brown to keep running. The officer then shot Brown a second time in the back. After the second shot, Brown turned around and raised his hands, telling the officer he was unarmed and to please stop shooting. The officer then fired several more shots as he and Brown were face-to-face. As Brown went to the ground, Johnson ran away as fast as he could until he got to his apartment.
Johnson’s account to MSNBC is very much in line with the accounts I had heard on Sunday when I first reported on the Ferguson situation. Amazingly, per Johnson’s attorney, Johnson has not been brought in by police for an interview. Former St. Louis mayor Freeman Bosley, who is representing Johnson, claims that he and his client have offered to give a statement, but the investigating police department declined.
“They didn’t even want to talk to him. They don’t want the facts. What they want is to justify what happened … what they are trying to do now is justify what happened instead of trying to point out the wrong. Something is wrong here and that’s what it is.”
The accounts given by witnesses are a far cry from what the St. Louis County Police Department provided on Sunday afternoon when first discussing the incident. Per Chief Jon Belmar’s statement to the press, Brown was physically assaulting the police officer and trying to reach for his gun. It was during the struggle that the weapon went off. Belmar did confirm that the officer shot Brown multiple times and that Brown was unarmed.
The shooting of an 18-year-old black teenager by a police officer has driven the community of Ferguson into grief and outrage. On Sunday night, the anger finally exploded as the heavy police presence in the neighborhood became a target for the residents’ rage. After hundreds of police officers from surrounding jurisdictions were called in to deal with protesters, rioting and looting took place in surrounding areas. On Monday evening, a very large police force descended on the area and dispersed demonstrators using tear gas and rubber bullets, making Ferguson feel like a war zone. The militarized state of the police presence Monday night may have forced calm in the community, but it will likely cause further resentment towards law enforcement within the black community in the St. Louis area.
Justin Baragona is the Managing Editor at Politicus Sports as well as Senior Editor at PoliticusUSA. He was a political writer for 411Mania.com before joining PoliticusUSA. Politically, Justin considers himself a liberal but also a realist and pragmatist. Currently, Justin lives in St. Louis, MO and is married. Besides writing, he also runs his own business after spending a number of years in the corporate world. You can follow Justin on Twitter either with his personal handle (@justinbaragona) or the Sports site’s (@PoliticusSports).