– STAFF OPINION-PHOTO: Protesters still gathered in Ferguson two weeks after the police shooting of Michael Brown. Photo by Hannah Sorkin for The Current 2014 (c)
By Michael Holmes, Staff Writer for The Current
On August 9, 2014, 18-year-old Michael Brown was shot to death by Darren Wilson of the Ferguson Police Department. After the discovery of crime scene photos taken of Brown surfaced onto several social media platforms, the city of Ferguson went into an uproar. Many citizens believe that Officer Wilson racially profiled Brown and his friends after allegedly continuing to shoot unarmed Brown after he fell to his knees, raised his arms, and yelled, “Don’t shoot!”. Despite eye-witnesses reporting that Brown did not engage in a physical altercation with Officer Wilson, St. Louis County police Chief Joe Belmar reported that not only had Brown assaulted Officer Wilson, but that the two struggled for control of the officer’s gun. While the exact number of shots is still widely unknown to the public, after performing an autopsy on Brown’s body, private pathologist, Michael Baden determined that the results were inconclusive because they could support the claims of both eyewitnesses and Wilson alike. However Baden also reported that the body showed no signs of struggle and that further tests would need to be performed in order to accurately re-create the crime scene.
On August 15, 2014, Officer Wilson’s name was released to the public only to be followed by footage gathered from a convenience store surveillance camera that shows Brown engaging in a strong-arm robbery. Many believe this to be a ploy orchestrated by the police department in order to deflect responsibility from Wilson and portray Brown as a reckless teenager that could turn violent if challenged. This image is an interesting counterpoint to the “gentle giant” archetype previously used to describe the victim’s demeanor. Local news later reported that Wilson was unaware that the robbery had taken place at the time he stopped Brown and others on the street.
In Missouri a person is guilty of 2nd degree murder if he/she; “knowingly causes the death of another person or, with the purpose of causing serious physical injury to another person, causes the death of another person “. In order to successfully charge and convict Wilson in the death of Michael Brown, the state would need to collect a significant amount of evidence to prove that Wilson’s excessive force to restrain Brown resulted in his death.
As with many cases that receive national media coverage, often times the media can skew the facts in order to support the popular opinion regarding the suspect’s believed innocence or guilt. At this current time I am unable to definitively make a decision about whether or not the police officer should be charged with murder due to the fact that we simply do not have enough evidence that conclusively proves that not only did Wilson’s excessive force break protocol, but that his prejudiced actions influenced him to kill Brown in cold blood.
© The Current 2014