HANDS UP, DON’T REPORT: Eyewitnesses fearful of telling the truth!


Part 4—A deeply embarrassing story:
Last Friday, the Washington Post’s Gene Robinson made a lofty pronouncement.

In the process, he separated himself from his colleague, Jonathan Capehart.

In his column, Robinson said he doesn’t plan to “relitigate” the shooting of Michael Brown. Because he’s discussing important topics, we’ll provide a chunk of what he said:
ROBINSON (3/13/15): Feelings are running high after the tumult in Ferguson, Mo., which still hasn't ended. Early Thursday morning, after it was announced that the Ferguson police chief had resigned, two police officers were shot and wounded outside the police station.

I won't relitigate the Michael Brown killing in Ferguson, or the Eric Garner killing in Staten Island, or any of the other deaths that have come to be lumped together under the banner "Black Lives Matter."

But here's the thing: The protest movement that arose last summer grew out of the sense that many in this society see African American lives as disposable. Not really worth caring about. The main focus was on police departments, court systems and the ways in which their interactions with African Americans differed from their interactions with whites.
Should Robinson “relitigate” the shooting of Michael Brown? If we might pick a nit or two, journalists shouldn’t “litigate” such matters in the first place.

That said, feelings are still running high about the killing of Brown. For that reason, we decided to go back and review what Robinson wrote about Brown’s death.

Our view? Robinson shouldn’t relitigate anything. But given his own past accounts of the shooting, he probably should correct or amplify the record, based upon the findings of the recent Justice Department report.

The Justice Department isn’t infallible, of course. But the story it told in its recent report is massively different from the story which has routinely been told by a range of American journalists.

On a purely journalistic basis, the American public ought to be told about the contents of that report. But Robinson isn’t planning to do so, and Lawrence O’Donnell is staging classic eruptions in which he flatly misstates the contents of that report.

Meanwhile, at the new Salon, Professor Cooper is savaging Capehart for having corrected his own misstatements. “I get Capehart’s play,” the irate professor knowingly said before salonsplaining his motives.

We have no idea about Capehart’s motives, or if he even had any. Meanwhile, the professor shouldn’t worry her head about the work of the Washington Post:

Capehart’s column wasn’t published in the hard-copy Post. Meanwhile, Sari Horwitz’s news report about the Justice Department report barely mentioned the multitude of remarkable facts included in that document. Simply put, Post readers haven’t been told what the Justice Department has said.

On a purely journalistic basis, the American public should be told about the contents of that report. That said, an embarrassing fact emerges from that detailed report—an embarrassing fact which we the liberals are working quite hard to conceal.

Uh-oh! Robinson’s right on a basic point—feelings are still running high about the shooting of Brown. But Attorney General Holder’s report outlines this major embarrassment:

The original picture which fuels that outrage was built on a series of bogus claims—inaccurate claims by a trio of witnesses who have themselves been rejected as bogus by the Justice Department.

Anderson Cooper fawned and emoted toward these discredited witnesses. Lawrence O’Donnell and his lynch mob analysts swore they were telling the truth. We liberals should be deeply embarrassed by the obvious shape of what occurred. But we’ve made it clear, in recent years, that we love fake story-lines too!

We love to take our invented facts and parade them before the public! Rush and Sean always played it this way. We pseudo-liberals have now made it clear that we like to play this way too.

Yesterday, we showed you what the Justice Department has said about the trio of alleged eyewitnesses who largely created the standard “journalistic” narrative about the shooting of Brown. Today, let’s consider the testimony of certain other witnesses—witnesses whose accounts were found to be credible by the Justice Department.

Alas! The public narrative was almost totally formed by Witnessed 118, 127 and 101. According to their frequently shifting accounts, Michael Brown had his hands up, was attempting to surrender, when he was shot by Officer Wilson.

Other witnesses described the events quite differently. But in many cases, these witnesses said were afraid to come forward to challenge the bogus narrative being formed on our TV screens.

On the basis of physical evidence, the Justice Department judged the accounts of these other witnesses to be credible. But they didn’t appear on TV, in part due to fear of reprisals from the community.

For the record, we’re reporting the judgments reached by Holder’s Justice Department. Assuming their judgments aren’t totally crazy, a remarkable story is contained in their recent report.

If we accept the Justice Department’s assessments, the public narrative was largely created by three people whose accounts were judged to be bogus. According to the Justice Department, the credible witnesses were essentially never heard.

One such person was Witness 102, a 27-year-old biracial male.

In real time, he thought a false narrative was taking shape at the scene of the shooting. But he quickly left the scene. According to the Justice Department, this is why:
JUSTICE DEPARTMENT REPORT (page 27): Witness 102 did not stay on Canfield Drive long after the shooting, but rather started to leave the area after about five minutes because he felt uncomfortable. According to Witness 102, crowds of people had begun to gather, wrongly claiming the police shot Brown for no reason and that he had his hands up in surrender. Two black women approached Witness 102, mobile phones set to record, asking him to recount what he had witnessed. Witness 102 responded that they would not like what he had to say. The women responded with racial slurs, calling him names like “white motherfucker.”
The Justice Department describes this person as a credible witness.

Witness 103 is a 58-year-old black male. He testified that he saw Brown punch Wilson in the face three times through the open window of his police vehicle; this contradicted the statements made by TV’s three star witnesses. He said that Brown was “moving fast” toward Wilson when the fatal shots were fired.

Witness 103 didn’t go on TV to report these observations. According to the Justice Department, he had seen menacing signs in the neighborhood:
JUSTICE DEPARTMENT REPORT (page 29): Witness 103 is a 58-year-old black male who gave two statements. First, Witness 103 was reluctant to meet with SLCPD detectives, FBI agents, and federal prosecutors because he has no particular allegiance to law enforcement…Witness 103 expressed concerns because there were signs in the neighborhood of Canfield Drive stating, “snitches get stitches.” Therefore, he agreed to be interviewed only on the condition of confidentiality...

Witness 103 had a passenger in his truck. Although Witness 103 tried to facilitate contact between federal and state authorities and the passenger, the passenger refused to identify himself or provide any information.
Is that true? We have no way of knowing. The Justice Department of Eric Holder included that in its report.

Witness 108 is a 74-year-old black male. According to the Justice Department, he said Brown “charged” at Officer Wilson before the fatal shots were fired. He said he thought the shooting was justified. He may have stated a colorful judgment about what Wilson did.

You didn’t see this man on TV. He too voiced a fear of reprisals:
JUSTICE DEPARTMENT REPORT (page 32): Witness 108 is a 74-year-old black male who claimed to have witnessed the shooting, stated that it was justified, but repeatedly refused to give formal statements to law enforcement for fear of reprisal should the Canfield Drive neighborhood find out that his account corroborated Wilson. He was served with a county grand jury subpoena and refused to appear.

During the initial canvass of the crime scene on August 9, 2014, in the hours after the shooting, SLCPD detectives approached Witness 108, who was sitting in his car on Canfield Drive. They asked if he witnessed what happened. Witness 108 refused to identify himself or give details, but told detectives that the police officer was “in the right” and “did what he had to do,” and the statements made by people in the apartment complex were inaccurate. Both state and federal investigators later attempted to locate and interview Witness 108, who repeatedly expressed fear in coming forward. During the investigators’ attempts to find Witness 108, another individual reported that two days after the shooting, Witness 108 confided in her that he “would have fucking shot that boy, too.” In saying so, Witness 108 mimicked an aggressive stance with his hands out in front of him, as though he was about to charge.

SLCPD detectives finally tracked down Witness 108 at a local repair shop, where he reluctantly explained that Wilson told Brown to “stop” or “get down” at least ten times, but instead Brown “charged” at Wilson. Witness 108 told detectives that there were other witnesses on Canfield Drive who witnessed the same thing. An SLCPD detective and federal prosecutor again tracked down Witness 108 in hopes of obtaining a more formal statement. However, Witness 108 refused to provide additional details to either county or federal authorities, citing community sentiment to support a “hands up” surrender narrative as his reason to remain silent. He explained that he would rather go to jail than testify before the county grand jury.
Witness 109 is a 53-year-old black male. Like Witness 108, he said the shooting was justified. He too voiced a fear of reprisals:
JUSTICE DEPARTMENT REPORT (page 32): Like Witness 108, Witness 109 claimed to have witnessed the shooting, stated that it was justified, and repeatedly refused to give formal statements to law enforcement for fear of reprisal should the Canfield Drive neighborhood find out that his account corroborated Wilson. He was served with a county grand jury subpoena and refused to appear. Likewise, Witness 109 repeatedly refused to formally meet with SLCPD detectives, FBI agents, or federal and county prosecutors.

Law enforcement identified Witness 109 through a phone call that he made to the SLCPD information line at 5:19 p.m. on the day of the shooting. During that six-minute recorded call, the operator transferred Witness 109 to an SLCPD detective, and Witness 109 provided the following information, repeatedly refusing to meet with detectives in person. Witness 109 stated that he did not want his phone number traced, and would deny everything if it was traced. Witness 109 stated that he did not know Brown or his friend, Witness 101. However, he was calling because Witness 101, whom he described as the “guy with the dreads,” lied on national television…Witness 109 said that Wilson fired in self-defense, explaining that Wilson did not shoot to kill at first, but “he unloaded on him when [Brown] wouldn’t stop.” Witness 109 said that “a lot of people saw that it was justified,” ending the call by stating, “I know police get a bad rap, but they’re here to protect us.”

Federal and county prosecutors and investigators tried to no avail to interview Witness 109. True to his word on that initial phone call, he would not discuss what he saw. He did, however, acknowledge that he placed a call to the SLCPD information line.
Witness 113 is a 31-year-old black female. According to the Justice Department report, she initially lied to the FBI “in an effort to avoid neighborhood backlash.” According to the Justice Department, she said “it appeared to her that Wilson’s life was in danger” at the time of the shooting:
JUSTICE DEPARTMENT REPORT (page 33): [Witness 113] was interviewed one time by FBI agents during their canvass on August 16, 2014, and gave an account that generally corroborated Wilson, but only after she was confronted with untruthful statements she initially made in an effort to avoid neighborhood backlash. When local authorities tried to serve Witness 113 with a subpoena to testify before the county grand jury, she blockaded her door with a couch to avoid service...

Witness 113 stated that Wilson fired shots into Brown’s back as he lay flat on his stomach on the ground. When the FBI told Witness 113 that the autopsy results and other evidence were inconsistent with her account, she admitted that she lied. She explained to the FBI that, “You’ve gotta live the life to know it,” and stated that she feared offering an account contrary to the narrative reported by the media that Brown held his hands up in surrender.

Witness 113 then admitted that she saw Brown running toward Wilson, prompting Wilson to yell, “Freeze.” Brown failed to stop and Wilson began shooting Brown. Witness 113 told the FBI that it appeared to her that Wilson’s life was in danger. She explained there was a pause in the shots before the firing resumed, but Witness 113 had ducked down for cover and did not see anything after the first volley of shots.

Witness 113 was with her brother and boyfriend when the shooting occurred. Witness 113 refused to provide their contact information, and they both repeatedly evaded law enforcement’s attempts to meet with them.
Witness 110 is a 51-year-old black male. His wife, Witness 111, is a 48-year-old black female:
JUSTICE DEPARTMENT REPORT (page 38): Witness 110 and Witness 111 first came into contact with SLCPD detectives because they were attending a social function the evening of August 9, 2014. The couple told a friend, an attorney, what they had witnessed, and the friend called the SLCPD on their behalf. SLCPD detectives responded to the venue of the social function to interview Witness 110 and Witness 111, but they were reluctant to speak to law enforcement, fearing retaliation from people in the community. They agreed to speak only on the condition of confidentiality...

Witness 110 stated that Wilson shot Brown only when Brown was moving toward him, and did not shoot at Brown as he ran away.
Witness 110 initially told SLCPD detectives that Brown moved “quickly,” although he testified in the county grand jury that he could not describe how Brown was moving toward Wilson, though he was not “charging” or “running.” At no time were Brown’s hands up in surrender or otherwise.
Witness 111 agreed that Brown never had his hands up.

What actually happened that day? We aren’t in a position to tell you. We weren’t at the scene that day. No videotape has emerged.

That said, a remarkable story emerges from the Justice Department report. In a slightly less dishonest world, that story would help us understand one of the ways we can form deeply bogus impressions of very important facts.

This is the story lodged inside the Justice Department report:

The public’s understanding of these events was largely formed through the accounts of three alleged eyewitnesses—Witness 101, Witness 118 and Witness 127. In its recent report, the Justice Department rejected the accounts of all three people as lacking credibility.

Meanwhile, an array of other eyewitnesses disputed the basic building blocks of the emerging standard narrative. According to the Justice Department, these people held back from public statements and even from testifying, fearing reprisals if they contradicted the preferred narrative.

TV stars like Cooper and O’Donnell put the three discredited witnesses on the air. (So did network news shows.) They kept forgetting to warn their viewers that eyewitness statements are often wrong.

O’Donnell and his hang-him-high panel swore that these three witnesses were plainly telling the truth. On this basis, they said Wilson should be charged with first-degree murder.

If O’Donnell and Cooper were journalists, they’d want to “relitigate” this remarkable set of events. But Cooper and Lawrence are actually TV stars. There’s no sign that they plan to tell their viewers the embarrassing story which is lodged in the Justice Department report.

As for Capehart, he actually wrote a column correcting his own misstatements. Major journalists never do that!

But over at the new Salon, one of our fiery liberal professors is very angry at Capehart for that. In such ways, the public keeps getting accounts of important events which are grotesquely wrong.

Feelings are still running high, one award-winning journalist has said. Really? Feelings are still running high?

We wonder why that is!

Tomorrow: Sadly, this isn’t the first time


  1. Don't know what edition of the Post you get, but you're only technically accurate, much below your standards. While Capehart's whole piece wasn't published in the paper edition, a short excerpt giving the gist (i.e. his apology based on the DOJ report) was at the bottom of the op-ed page in the paper I received.

  2. "Six of the most credible witnesses to the shooting of Michael Brown were afraid to give testimony in support of Ferguson, MO, police officer Darren Wilson, because they knew it would undercut the “Hands up, don’t shoot” narrative being advanced by their neighbors and, eventually, by the media"

    "Witness 102 did not stay on Canfield Drive long after the shooting, but rather started to leave the area after about five minutes because he felt uncomfortable. According to Witness 102, crowds of people had begun to gather, wrongly claiming the police shot Brown for no reason and that he had his hands up in surrender. Two black women approached Witness 102, mobile phones set to record, asking him to recount what he had witnessed. Witness 102 responded that they would not like what he had to say. The women responded with racial slurs, calling him names like “white motherfucker


  3. Is the media trying to start a race war? We know how the Martin and Brown shootings look from the media/black POV. Here's how they might look from an opposite POV:

    Brown and Martin made unprovoked attacks on a white and a Hispanic person. It was their bad luck that the person they attacked happened to be armed and shot them to death. But, there was nothing unusual about the attacks. Blacks attack people of other ethnicities all the time.

    Furthermore, black people didn't tell the truth about the attacks. Black witnesses to the Brown shooting lied about what happened. Blacks repeated stories about the Martin shooting that were contradicted by the evidence. So, one might decide that these two cases illustrate that blacks attack people of other races and that blacks aren't truthful.

    I'm not arguing that this is a fair way to understand what happened. I am saying that lots of people will see it this way. IMHO truth would be a better basis for building trust and harmony among ethnic groups.

    1. Martin did not make an "unprovoked attack" despite the prosecutor's failure to produce the evidence to the contrary. That evidence was given by Zimmerman himself when he (thinking he might have been videoed) tried to explain away that he had grabbed for his gun when Martin accosted him that second time (Martin again demanding to know why Z was chasing him). And when Z grabbed for an object in his pocket/waist area, Martin was fully entitled to attack or kill him in a clear act of self-defense.

    2. The Brown/Wilson interaction as told by witnesses does not at all suggest that Brown's actions were "unprovoked". Wilson first cursed them and pulled away but when he saw them not leaving the road he backed the side of the police car into Brown, slammed the door into him, then grabbed Brown and pulled his upper body into the car. That triggered the wrestling through the window.

    3. Provocation is no excuse for punching an officer in the face, grabbing his gun, or otherwise refusing to comply with orders (such as freeze or stop). If he couldn't control himself under the "provocation" of being cursed at and physically pushed onto the sidewalk (although there is no evidence that is what happened other than Dorion Johnson's discredited statement), he didn't have the maturity of a 4 year old and needed to be institutionalized.

    4. Right. The dead kid acted rashly and immaturely, not the trained police officer.

      Somerby, you shit in your own bed. Now lay in it. Enjoy your new fan club.

    5. Nothing you said is false. Thus, every word is racist.

    6. @1:27, trained police officers are trained not to get themselves killed by out of control, violent thugs. You oppose this training and the actions it requires, which reveals your low IQ and lack of credibility.

    7. 12:53, your comment might be the dumbest ever published at this blog.

    8. @12:42, if you have two persons entitled to attack each other due to a reasonably perceived provocation, it's a good idea to be the one with a gun. Z followed Martin to keep an eye on him as he reported to police dispatchers. Martin pursued Z even though he had 4 minutes to find something else to do, and he didn't do it while calling police to report Z as suspicious. He wanted to size him up and start a fight. Too bad his upbringing was negligent enough to bring about such unintelligent decisionmaking.

    9. 1:57, Gee, and all this time, I thought cops were trained NOT to let situations escalate to the point where they are "forced" to fire their weapons on a residential street.

      "Violent, out of control thugs" Which one you talking about? Michael Brown, or Trayvon Martin? And now we got Rodney King thrown into the mix, how about him, too?

      And how about Tamir Rice? Hey, he was an "out of control, violent thug" too. After all, he was black, and we know what super men and super violent all black kids are.

      Why, they are all so scary, any white man would pee his pants before shooting. Even a 6-4 cop. Make that, ex-cop.

    10. Cops have magic powers "not to let" situations escalate now. Are you 9 years old? If so, you can't be blamed for not knowing that real-life clusterfucks do not unfold like TV shows.

    11. Trayvon was 6'2" and weighed 175 lbs at the time of his death. Michael Brown was a "gentle giant" not the 14 year old whose picture has been all over the media. Only Tamir Rice was a child, playing with a realistic looking toy gun that he did not put down when the cops asked him to, as is clear in the video. Cops are not required to endanger their own lives. It doesn't take a superman to kill another human being, nor does it require a weapon. It happens in bar fights and school yard scuffles and domestic quarrels, even sports activities.

    12. Funny, but the autposy report of Travon Martin lists him as 5'11" and weighing 158 lbs. Why do white people lie like @ 6:10?

    13. Except it doesn't. Cite a source or shut up.

    14. Say who you are adressing or continue to look stupid.

    15. To asshole anonymous above, see pg 2 of autopsy report, and 71 inches is 5-11, and 158 lbs is "pounds" BTW. http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2012/images/05/17/trayvon.martin.autopsy.pdf

    16. You are right. I apologize. Here are the stats for Michal Brown: Mike Brown weighed 289-pounds and was 6-foot 5-inches tall. Darren Wilson stands 6-foot 4 –inches tall and weights 210-pounds.

    17. We should require every police officer keep an accurate scale in his vehicle, and conduct weigh-ins of himself and any "suspect" before proceeding.

    18. Better than "shoot first, cover-up later".

  4. Warning to casual readers of this blog: These comments are unmoderated. They are infested by one or more trolls who routinely attack the blog author in a variety of ways, rarely substantive. Such attacks are not an indicator of the level of interest of other readers, the validity of the content posted nor of the esteem in which the blog author is held by others.

  5. The blogger is right again. Manufactured narratives feel good to tribal members but do little to advance the cause of justice. Seems the choice is between self satisfaction and justice. VIVA BOB! VIVA Justice!

    1. Well since Bob has the Justice report to work with six months after the fact, Viva Bob indeed.

    2. And Somerby's point is that now it is time to correct the record so that the public will know what was in that report.

    3. Bob's absolute faith in the Justice Dept report may be misguided. When you read the report, you see obvious bias. For example, any comments adverse to Wilson by a witness are presented "tentatively", with obvious reservations...Then if they eked out from that witness any point that remotely favors Wilson, that comment is characterized as an "admission" with the suggestion it undermines the other points.

      What Bob may be overlooking is that the Justice Department has top level recent appointees, but the rank and file of the Civil Rights was stacked with graduates from right wing or fundamentalist law schools under Bush/Cheney.

    4. Those tentative comments with reservations may be tentative and the reservations may exist because of their incompatibility with the physical evidence and other witnesses, not because of any assumed bias. The admissions may be characterized as admissions because the intent of the witness was clearly to exonerate Brown and blame Wilson. You don't need to assume a conspiracy on the part of Bush appointees to interpret such language.

    5. @Unknown,

      Now all you need to do is name these prosecutors in A.G. Holder's DOJ who are graduates of "fundamentalist law schools" and their education background and provide evidence that their investigation was compromised by some imagined bias.

      If Holder figured he could charge Wilson with violating the Civil Rights of Brown he would have. Holder has control over the DOJ in the same way Hoover had control over the FBI. Underlings are not running Holder's department.

    6. cicero,
      That's what I say when nitwits talk about the "liberal media" I'm supposed to believe the guy that reads the news tells corporate ownership what gets broadcast and what doesn't.
      Try telling your bosses you'll do what you want, not what they want. Anyone who thinks that will work, is as mistaken as those who think the corporate-owned media is the least bit "liberal".

    7. Anyone who claims Holder controls the Justice Dept like Hoover controlled the FBI is a complete ignoramus.

    8. Cicero...If you care to re-visit the GWB scandal of stacking Justice with fundamentalist (and sub-par) law grads, just google Regent and Liberty Law graduates + Bush...And remember, those hired people stayed when the appointees left in 2009.

    9. You have that confused with FDR attempting to raise the number of SCOTUS from 9 to 15.

      In 1988, Holder was nominated by former President Ronald Reagan to become an associate judge of the Superior Court of the District of Columbia. How did Reagan not know Holder wasn't a fundamentalist?

      Here is a sample of Holder's power. Actually, his intrusion into American lives is far more comprehensive than Hoover's.

      "...National Counterterrorism Center to examine the government files of U.S. citizens for possible criminal behavior, even if there is no reason to suspect them. That is a departure from past practice, which barred the agency from storing information about ordinary Americans unless a person was a terror suspect or related to an investigation.

      Now, NCTC can copy entire government databases—flight records, casino-employee lists, the names of Americans hosting foreign-exchange students and many others. The agency has new authority to keep data about innocent U.S. citizens for up to five years, and to analyze it for suspicious patterns of behavior. Previously, both were prohibited. Data about Americans "reasonably believed to constitute terrorism information" may be permanently retained".


    10. Very poor dodge Cicero...No one said a word about Reagan but his appointment of Holder becomes your "reason" why GWB allies did not stack DOJ with Liberty and Regency Law grads...Really, you are beyond a "poor dodge", stupid is more like it.

    11. @ Unknown,

      It is your inane contention that Holder hand picked these graduates from "fundamentalist law schools" to got to Ferguson to investigate Brown's death. Do you believe all 6 moon landings were faked as well?

      Being called "stupid" from someone who proposes moonbat conspiracies about the DOJ Ferguson investigation being corrupted by Bush 43 era prosecutors is actually an inoculation against stupidity.

    12. This comment has been removed by the author.

    13. Well Cicero, your propensity to project your own "moonbat" stupidity to others is duly noted. No one stated that Bush 43 "prosecutors" or even staff investigators corrupted the investigation..Just that the staff of the DOJ can not be seen to be totally changed from the Bush years just by replacing top appointees. Read above, I stated only that "Absolute faith in the DOJ report may be misguided", and you created a straw man out of that because you have an idiotic position. Grow up, would you?

    14. @Unknown,

      Another weasel explanations only deepens your self dug hole. Absolute faith in the DOJ report would be warranted if only the top to bottom staff were assembled by POTUS Obama? Your fragile ideology just can't accept inconvenient truth. Your epic failure in providing evidence that the DOJ report regarding Officer Wilson and Michael Brown was affected by anything other than the facts is on record. Save your David Brock/ Markos Moulitsas propaganda for their blogs where dissent is not allowed. That way you might avoid wearing an omelet on your visage.

  6. "Witness 102’s vantage point was street level, about 450 feet from the SUV with a view of the driver’s side of the SUV."

    Bob left out that pertinent portion of the Justice Dept. memorandum.
    Perhaps it was too far away from Bob for him to see it when he read the report.

    1. How does it change anything? There were several witnesses with different vantages, in different places and at different distances, all saying things consistent with the physical evidence.

    2. There was a reason why DOJ put Witness102 forward as the first witness after Brown's companion (#101) He was the only person they found credible who claimed to see the event from the struggle at the SUV through to the shooting and its immediate aftermath.

      He started from a vantage point a football field and a half away. The shooting site put the distance at more than two football fields away. He was unable to see Brown throwing blows, only a struggle at the SUV. Yet he clearly saw how Wilson held his gun while Wilson was running away from his vantage point. He clearly saw Brown did not have his hands up, even though Wilson was in between he and Brown. The DOJ report evaluates all the witnesses based on their credibility as a result of past prior criminal activity. They never mention # 102's eyesight. I do remember the film "12 Angry Men."

  7. I was listening to Make it Plain on the XM/Sirium Urban talk channel. One caller was discussing the recent shooting of an "unarmed" black man on skid row in Los Angeles. There is video of that police shooting and both the show's host and the caller had seen it. The caller kept insisting that the man who was shot never went for the cop's gun despite the clear evidence in the video that he had done so. This is similar to the Rodney King video, in which people watching the repeated showings of the video (edited down to just the last part of the episode) reached a very different judgment about what happened than the jury did (watching the entire unedited encounter). Similarly, some people who watched the video of Garner being subdued saw a choke hold being applied, others saw the officer trying grab Garner from behind while he struggled, as the officer claimed in his statement.

    Even when there is video available, people who watch it with different expectations and in different contexts will reach different conclusions about what is going on. It is possible to superimpose a perspective onto even the most clear cut circumstances, as witnesses may have done at the scene of the Brown shooting in real time.

    I have repeatedly witnessed the community pressure toward a narrative that entails an entirely innocent black person minding their own business being ruthlessly attacked by a cop for no reason. It happens over and over in the interviews on nightly news. It is biased or outright false, always portrays police as wrong, and doesn't help any investigation into the facts of what happened, nor does it help calm racial tensions. Building this into a civil rights movement is a very shaky foundation for attracting allies.

    We can all empathize with the loss felt by family and friends of those who are shot. That doesn't make the incident a crime instead of a tragedy. There are many African Americans trying to address the problems that lead to such shootings, in constructive ways that don't attract a lot of public attention. I think their efforts are undercut by histrionic reactions that ignore facts in order to paint the ugliest picture of police, who are light years better now than they were in Rodney King's time. Progress toward betted policing and community relations needs to be recognized, not ignored, if it is to continue to improve. That means recognizing that sometimes victims of shootings do contribute to their own deaths in ways the cops cannot avoid, and ways that have nothing to do with racism. In Los Angeles, there are enough black and Hispanic cops to make that more obvious than it was in Ferguson.

    1. "I have repeatedly witnessed . . ."


    2. See, this is the problem. One person sees one thing and someone else sees something different. You cannot tell a person they didn't see what they believe they saw. That's why forensic evidence is so important and videos aren't any more helpful than immediate eye-witness testimony.

      I have seen this happen over and over. A black man is shot while committing a crime or attacking an officer and his family and neighbors all claim he wasn't doing anything wrong and was shot for no reason. I see this every time there is that kind of news report. I understand the "speak no ill of the dead" tradition when it comes to funerals. but it makes no sense for investigating what has happened.

      I know what I see. You have no basis for calling it bullshit. If what you really mean to say is that you disagree, please acquire a bigger vocabulary.

    3. Sorry, but when one person has to gloss their opinion with, "I have repeatedly witnessed . . ." then I call bullshit.

      It's like reading about all in Dave in Cal's family who among them possess all the expertise known to humankind.

      So now tell me which is it? You have personally seen cops shoot black men while committing crime, or you have seen news reports about cops shooting black men?

      And of course, either one makes you an expert. Right?

    4. No, as I said, I have seen family members of those shot as they were interviewed by TV reporters telling everyone that their loved one was shot for no reason, doing nothing wrong. My claim was that no one admits their loved one participated in causing their own death. I am an expert on what I've personally seen -- night after night on the news -- as I originally said. I also saw the video of the skid row shooting, just like everyone else in LA. My point was that video feels like evidence but it isn't, because many of the same problems of eyewitness testimony also exist with video.

      You have no basis for calling Bullshit on David in CA either. You don't know him or his family. You don't know who he knows or where he's been or anything about him. Disregard his statements if you want, but saying it is bullshit is wrong without evidence to the contrary that you cannot possibly have.

    5. I haven't seen any reports about cops shooting black teens who were obeying their instructions since the 80's. None.

    6. The reporters say that the police claim the suspects were dangerous while the family says they were obeying instructions (or mentally ill and thus should not have been shot). In the recent case in NYC where a black man was shot for no reason, murder charges have been brought.

    7. If it happened and we didn't hear about it, it is by design. Race hustlers like Al Sharpton and the white progressive left have a special fondness for non-starters as they can point to eventual acquittals as proof of racism. Surveys show blacks,the majority of whom are uneducated and more likely to depend on misinformation fed by the media, are more miserable and hopeless after Sharpton and progressives pimped these stories. A small price to pay for vanity projects of the progressive left, who invent the stories but don't have the same excuse for ignorance to the facts since most work in newsrooms and universities.

  8. Nice job, Bob. Now, let's unpack the shooter's testimony.
    I'm sure it's completely supported by the forensic evidence, or the media would be pounding on the inconsistencies.

  9. The community pressure to adhere to a narrative about hands up reminds me of the extreme community pressure that occurred in 2008 to keep African Americans who preferred Clinton over Obama from voicing their support. The black vote went from around 50-50 to overwhelmingly for Obama in the space of a week or two. There was quite a bit of discussion various places on the internet about reprisals against black voters who were for Hillary. The same pressures occurred in strongly liberal venues, such as academic departments, where one couldn't talk about supporting HIllary without reprisals from colleagues. Group think is antithetical to both justice and democracy.

  10. I get a good chuckle out of the headline for this series.

  11. To Cicero:

    The President went to Andrews Air Force Base at 2 pm and then to LAX at 7 pm, then flew to Phoenix the next morning. The first lady flew into Burbank Airport for her interview, then went back to Washington DC.

    You don't measure distance in LA by miles but by how long it takes to drive there. LAX and Burbank are not close, neither are McAnderews and Burbank or LAX. Should the First Lady go to Phoenix or the President cancel his morning events so that he could leave earlier to accommodate her interview? How would you reconcile the two schedules?

    1. @ 3:28

      You have obviously not see how a POTUS or FLOTUS motorcade works. They do not stop for red lights or sit in traffic. 28 miles is indeed 28 uncongested miles for them to travel.

      FLOTUS went to a spinning class on Ellen. Maybe she should have explained to Ellen that she would have to take a separate government aircraft to be in Burbank the same day her hubby was going to be in Burbank to appear on Kimmel.

    2. Her hubby visited McAndrews Air Force Base, a military installation, then went to Burbank for Kimmel. Are you suggesting that PR and visibility are not part of the job for both the President and First Lady? I doubt she only did spinning -- what was the message she was actually there to promote?

      You didn't answer my question -- should the President have set aside his other activities in the morning in order to arrive in LA with the First Lady or should the First Lady have set aside her later activities in Washington DC in order to go to Phoenix with the President, and what about the conflict between visiting McAndrews and appearing on Ellen? How would you have resolved their schedule conflicts? Driving faster wouldn't help.

    3. Appearing on Ellen to work up a sweat is not part of the job description for a FLOTUS.

      The problem with POTUS Obama is he has never stopped campaigning. That may have something to do with his exceptional skills as a campaigner, but rather feckless skills as a leader.

    4. Actually, that is exactly the job description. Her job is to be accessible to the public in positive ways. Promoting health through exercise seems positive to me.

    5. @ 9:08

      FLOTUS couldn't find any public to appear in front of in Washington D.C.? Flying on a separate government aircraft to be in the same city on the same day as her hubby is promoting waste. But FLOTUS' school lunch program is accomplishing the same thing.

  12. Yesterday's troll onslaught tried to characterize Somerby as a born-again conservative whose opinions attract racist commenters. That makes me suspect the trolling is coming from the left. That is exactly the campaign waged by Obama's people against Clinton to peel away her liberal supporters in 2008. First, portray her as a racist (via attacks on Bill and her proxies, such as Geraldine Ferraro) then as a centrist triangulator, as if Obama weren't to her right on all of the issues. Facts about past actions and policy statements didn't seem to matter.

    Here, Somerby always states his own opinions before offering his criticism of the day, and they are always as liberal as anyone might wish for. He is careful not to give aid and comfort to conservative views, but because he raises facts and arguments not common on the left, he can be portrayed as "not of our kind." The logic seems to be that if he isn't a true-blue liberal (because he raises criticisms), he must be conservative because that's all there is left for him to be.

    Enough persistent mislabeling could perhaps change people's perceptions of his political views if he were a political candidate and there were a readily manipulable electorate. In this case, everyone can read what he says for themselves, so I don't think this trolling is going to do anything except irritate people. As usual.

    1. Meanwhile, Hillary portrayed Obama as a wet-behind-the-ears newbie who couldn't be trusted with the famous "3 a.m. phone call."

      And yet somehow, both of them were able to put all that aside and work closely together, weren't they?

    2. The trolling also reaffirms what many already notice about the increasingly Stalinistic character of the left.

    3. @4:00 pm

      I think Clinton chose to use her own email server so that she would have control over what got turned over to any investigation should one arise later on. I think that indicates a lack of trust of Obama. Conservatives are suggesting that Obama's people leaked the story about her personal email to the NYTimes. There is a vicious fight going on right now between Clinton's former campaign staffers and Obama's campaign people who want to switch to her campaign but in positions of power within it. All is not forgotten about 2008. So, no, I don't agree that they were able to put all that aside to work closely. I think Obama had no choice and his staffers now see that Clinton is the only game in town and want in. Not exactly peace and harmony.

    4. Isn't that what happens all the time, the rival in the primary who loses then supports the winner, and may well become the running mate or join the administration?

    5. Some times, yes. All the time? No.

      But the narrative around here is that Obama didn't win the nomination fair and square. He won it by saying mean and false things about Hillary, aided by a willing press corps including all the usual suspects.

      The truth is, Obama and his campaign put together a stunning organization in the caucus states, and still managed to pick off enough primary states to win -- barely.

      It was a hard-fought campaign between two excellent candidates, but never as bitter as our host seems to say it was. Which was why it was so easy for Hillary -- and her supporters -- to move to Obama rather than sit the rest of it out.

      You do remember all the talk about women "PUMAs" don't you? "Party Unity My Ass." These were Hillary supporters that McCain tried to pander to by selecting Sarah Palin.

      It didn't work because neither Hillary nor her supporters were ever that bitter about the outcome of the 2008 primaries.

      But holding onto grudges for years on end when things don't go his way is certainly Somerby's game.

    6. And Riverdaughter's way -- over at The Confluence. And John Smart's way -- he became a Republican over 2008's treatment of Hillary. Obama didn't care about losing part of the women's vote because he had a solid African American voting block.

      Obama supporters would certainly like to minimize what they did, and I have no doubt it doesn't seem that bad to them. The rest of us don't have such convenient memories.

      Somerby isn't a Clinton fan. This isn't Somerby's game. However, if Al Gore enters the race then things might get interesting. I think he may be the only one with enough of a following to challenge Hillary.

    7. Hillary won more votes than Obama.

  13. In the Robert Durst "Jinx" docuseries, Durst's attorney is shown the two (matching) handwriting samples that everyone watching knows were as likely to have been written by someone other than Durst as they were to have been written by a giraffe. He declares, "I see similarities...and I see differences." The arguments against the Grand Jury and DOJ results are similarly dishonest and amusing.

  14. If I'm a black person in this country, I'm asking myself how it is that Ryan Giroux got tasered yesterday in Mesa, AZ, but Michael Brown got shot six times. Brown brandished no weapon because he didn't have one. On the other hand, police knew Giroux was armed because he'd already shot six people, killing one of them. They also knew, because it took quite awhile to find him in the neighborhood he terrorized, that he had an extensive, violent criminal history.

    If they could capture someone as dangerous and out of control as Ryan Giroux, why could they not do the same with Michael Brown? Wilson was not carrying a Taser because "it is not the most comfortable thing" (which is a little silly since a Taser's about the size of a service revolver, and, even if you don't want one clipped to your body all the time, can easily be carried in a patrol car), but he did have mace. Let's just say, to use a popular current cliche, the optics look bad.

    1. There was more time to prepare with Giroux. Brown attacked Wilson unexpectedly. Wilson didn't have his mace ready because he didn't expect Brown to punch him or reach for his gun.

    2. @4:34

      It appears the "bad optics" result from use of deadly force and Tasers.

      "The widow of a man who died after an encounter with Phoenix police was at Phoenix City Hall Thursday with a group of supporters demanding to know more about the man's death.

      Balantine Mbegbu, a 65-year-old Phoenix resident, died on October 6 after being tased by a Phoenix police officer.

      "I really want to know, why did they kill my husband?" asked Ngozi Mbegbu, Balantine's wife.


    3. AnonymousMarch 19, 2015 at 4:34 PM -- I'm not a black person, but I think the police treat blacks more harshly than whites or Asian, on average. There might be various causes: racism, justifiable fear (since blacks are more likely to be violent criminals), sadism, etc. This harsher treatment is unfair and should be fought.

      However, it's not a reason why blacks can't succeed. That was different in the past. Slaves were prevented from learning to read. During Jim Crow, authorities specifically sought to keep blacks down. That's pretty much not the case today. Furthermore, there are massive countervailing efforts to encourage blacks to rise -- in education, in hiring, etc.

      In short, life isn't perfectly fair, but there are plenty of opportunities.

    4. Blacks now have more opportunities to succeed than they have had in years.
      Unless, of course, you mean opportunity to successfully vote. That's been walked back by the SCOTUS and various right-wing state legislatures.


    5. According to libs, the notion of photo I.D.was supposed to impede minorities voting.

      "Black Voter Turnout Rate Passes Whites In 2012 Election"


    6. Probably because they are better citizens, cicero.

    7. Good to know photo I.D. is not an impediment to being a "better citizen."

  15. What is so dysfunctional about the black community that every witness who knows the truth is terrified to speak to the authorities? Is it governed by the mafia? This seems to be a serious problem that perhaps those who are constantly harping that "black lives matter" should perhaps think about addressing.

    1. "What is so dysfunctional about the black community that every witness who knows the truth is terrified to speak to the authorities?"


  16. I must admit, Somerby does provide a valuable service.

    I no longer have to watch Fox News to find out what the right-wing talking points are. I can read them all here, at my leisure.

    1. Indeed. A place for self-loathing liberals to fantasize that the most bigoted police department in the country would never, no never, fan out and come up with compliant witnesses to say just what they want to exonerate one of their own...That one of their own having come to them from a small MO town whose entire police force was fired for racism....Never! ...Well...hardly ever.

    2. It is inaccurate to call those of us with liberal bent "self-loathing" since is the progressive left that is opposed by liberals here. There is nothing liberal about the race and gender-obsessed progressive left who pimp stories like these and like to get their feels on by setting lying lynch mobs against innocent white-skinned people in an attempt to cause them to be convicted and imprisoned for rape or murder.

    3. The only self loathing liberal around here is the blogger. And he compensates for it by presenting himself as superior to the rest of the "we" crowd to which he proclaims to belong.

    4. "that the most bigoted police department in the country would never, no never, fan out and come up with compliant witnesses to say just what they want to exonerate one of their own"

      And then repeat the story to DOJ?

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