On Monday, The Smoking Gun published a lengthy report exposing “Witness 40,” a woman who testified before the St. Louis County grand jury who corroborated all of the main details of former Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson’s story regarding his encounter with unarmed teenager Michael Brown in August. TSG was able to identify “Witness 40” as Sandra McElroy, a 45-year-old St. Louis resident who has a history of making false statements and previously interjected herself in a high-profile case in the St. Louis area. McElroy’s testimony has been used by a number of conservative pundits, most visibly Sean Hannity, to bolster their support of Wilson’s account.
Earlier this month, MSNBC’s Chris Hayes showed how often Hannity has pointed to “Witness 40’s” testimony as the absolute truth.
After St. Louis County Prosecutor Bob McCulloch announced Wilson would not be indicted in the shooting death of Brown, he publicly released all of the evidence and testimony from the grand jury proceeding. News outlets started sifting through all of the pages. Outside of Wilson’s own testimony, it was noticed that there was really only one other witness who fully supported his story: “Witness 40.” However, right off the bat, it was apparent that there was something awful fishy about her testimony, especially how she ended up on the street at the exact time Wilson shot Brown, despite not living anywhere near the neighborhood.
What makes TSG’s report so damning isn’t that it shows how ludicrous McElroy’s testimony is, as others have already ripped it apart, but that it identifies her and questions why someone with her mental issues and criminal past would even be brought forth by the prosecution to speak to the grand jury. What good would her testimony be other than to help the accused’s case? After being initially questioned, wouldn’t a prosecutor know that she was a complete fraud and not even bother putting her out there to give her testimony? It would seem McCulloch only wanted her up on the stand to lend even a slight bit of credence to Wilson’s account.
In their report, TSG pointed out that Fox News and others have clung to McElroy’s testimony to refute that of Dorian Johnson’s. Johnson was Brown’s friend who was with him when Wilson stopped them for jaywalking on Canfield Drive in Ferguson. The sleuthing site also provided details on how they were able to accurately identify McElroy.
While the “hands-up” account of Dorian Johnson is often cited by those who demanded Wilson’s indictment, “Witness 40″‘s testimony about seeing Brown batter Wilson and then rush the cop like a defensive end has repeatedly been pointed to by Wilson supporters as directly corroborative of the officer’s version of the August 9 confrontation. The “Witness 40” testimony, as Fox News sees it, is proof that the 18-year-old Brown’s killing was justified, and that the Ferguson grand jury got it right.
However, unlike Johnson, “Witness 40”–a 45-year-old St. Louis resident named Sandra McElroy–was nowhere near Canfield Drive on the Saturday afternoon Brown was shot to death.
Though prosecutors have sought to cloak the identity of grand jury witnesses, a TSG investigation has identified McElroy as “Witness 40.” A careful analysis of information contained in the unredacted portions of “Witness 40″‘s grand jury testimony helped reporters identify McElroy and then conclusively match up details of her life with those of “Witness 40.”
TSG examined criminal, civil, matrimonial, and bankruptcy court records, as well as online postings and comments to unmask McElroy as “Witness 40,” the fabulist whose grand jury testimony and law enforcement interviews are deserving of multi-count perjury indictments.
Throughout the body of the report, TSG gives details of McElroy’s life, through public records and social media activity, to prove without a doubt McElroy is indeed “Witness 40.” They also show how McElroy involved herself in the high-profile case of Shawn Hornbeck, a St. Louis boy who was kidnapped and held hostage for more than four years by Michael Devlin before being rescued in 2007. After Hornbeck’s rescue and Devlin’s arrest, McElroy spoke to local news station KMOV and claimed that she had known Devlin for 20 years and had gone to the police after Hornbeck went missing to tell him she had seen the boy with Devlin. She also claimed that she knew that another missing boy from the early ’90s was taken by Devlin. Police regarded her claims as completely fraudulent.
It appears that McElroy did the same thing with the Ferguson case. With it being a very big case, and her sympathies lying with Wilson, McElroy decided to put together false testimony and claim she was a witness based solely on public accountings of Wilson’s story. She fabricated a diary in which she documented her travels to Ferguson to get to know black people so she wouldn’t be so racist anymore. (McElroy has a long history of making racist statements.) She then gave an incredulous account of how she ended up on Canfield Drive the very moment Wilson shot Brown, claiming she saw Brown rushing at Wilson like a football player, just as Wilson had claimed.
Once again, one has to wonder how a crazy racist with a criminal past and a penchant for lying to get attention somehow finds herself testifying before a grand jury in one of the most explosive cases in recent American history. How in the heck does a prosecutor, who is supposed to be trying to get an indictment against the accused, allow somebody to spin obvious fairy tales to bolster a defendant’s story? Of course, we all know why — McCulloch planned from the get go to throw this case and make sure Wilson never saw a trial.
One would like to see this bombshell about “Witness 40” lead to something, like perhaps another grand jury proceeding with another prosecutor. But, it seems like the political machine in St. Louis and Missouri won’t let that happen.
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).