On August 9, 2014, Michael Brown, an unarmed 18 year old, 6’4”, 290 male, was shot and killed by Ferguson Missouri Police Officer Darren Wilson. Immediately prior to the shooting, Brown committed a strong-arm robbery at a local convenience store. These facts are not in dispute.
Soon after the incident, there were accusations that Michael Brown had attempted to surrender to Officer Wilson and had his hands up, pleading, “don’t shoot.” Riots ensued; and through the lenses of aggressive media outlets, all eyes were on Ferguson, Missouri. The president called Michael Brown’s parents to offer his condolences and assure the nation that the Department of Justice would conduct an investigation.
On November 25, 2014, a St. Louis grand jury, after hearing all the evidence, chose not to indict Officer Wilson. All of the above listed facts are not in dispute.
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On March 4, 2015, the Department of Justice released their report on the shooting. What happens next should make anyone who carries a firearm, from police officers to concealed carriers, extremely nervous. Rather than follow the facts within the report, then-Attorney General Eric Holder chose “Social Justice” over “True Justice”. A.G. Holder stated the following at the press conference:
This morning, the Justice Department announced the conclusion of our investigation and released a comprehensive, 87-page report documenting our findings and conclusions that the facts do not support the filing of criminal charges against Officer Darren Wilson in this case. Michael Brown’s death, though a tragedy, did not involve prosecutable conduct on the part of Officer Wilson.
Now to many, that may not sound so bad. But anyone who took the time to read the report quickly learned that the shooting of Michael Brown was justified and completely exonerated Officer Darren Wilson. Numerous African American witnesses supported Officer Wilson’s actions that day. One witness stated:
Wilson did not fire his gun as Brown ran from him. Brown then turned around and “for a second” began to raise his hands as though he may have considered surrendering, but then quickly “balled up in fists” in a running position and “charged” at Wilson. Witness 104 described it as a “tackle run,” explaining that Brown “wasn’t going to stop.” Wilson fired his gun only as Brown charged at him, backing up as Brown came toward him. Witness 104 explained that there were three separate volleys of shots. Each time, Brown ran toward Wilson, Wilson fired, Brown paused, Wilson stopped firing, and then Brown charged again. The pattern continued until Brown fell to the ground, “smashing” his face upon impact. Wilson did not fire while Brown momentarily had his hands up. Witness 104 explained that it took some time for Wilson to fire, adding that she “would have fired sooner.”
Witness after witness supported the shooting as reasonable and justified. The witnesses’ accounts detailed exactly what happened that day and matched up with the details provided by Officer Wilson and the forensic evidence. All the witnesses agreed that Michael Brown never had his hands up to surrender and, after attacking Officer Wilson in the patrol car, getting shot in the hand and running away, turned back around and charged Officer Wilson in a rage. Another witness stated:
According to Witness 102, he saw Brown standing on the driver’s side of the SUV, bent over with his body through the driver’s window from the waist up. Witness 102 explained that Brown was “wrestling” through the window, but he was unable to see what Wilson was doing. After a few seconds, Witness 102 heard a gunshot. Immediately, Brown took off running in the opposite direction from where Witness 102 was standing. Witness 102 heard something metallic hit the ground. Witness 102 thought that he had just witnessed the murder of a police officer because a few seconds passed before Wilson emerged from the SUV. Wilson then chased Brown with his gun drawn, but not pointed at Brown, until Brown abruptly turned around at a nearby driveway. Witness 102 explained that it made no sense to him why Brown turned around. Brown did not get on the ground or put his hands up in surrender. In fact, Witness 102 told investigators that he knew “for sure that [Brown’s] hands were not above his head.” Rather, Brown made some type of movement similar to pulling his pants up or a shoulder shrug, and then “charged” at Wilson. It was only then that Wilson fired five or six shots at Brown. Brown paused and appeared to flinch, and Wilson stopped firing. However, Brown charged at Wilson again, and again Wilson fired about three or four rounds until Brown finally collapsed on the ground. Witness 102 was in disbelief that Wilson seemingly kept missing because Brown kept advancing forward. Witness 102 described Brown as a “threat,” moving at a “full charge.” Witness 102 stated that Wilson only fired shots when Brown was coming toward Wilson. It appeared to Witness 102 that Wilson’s life was in jeopardy.
What A.G. Holder should have done that day is admit the facts:
- Michael Brown committed a strong-arm robbery.
- Michael Brown attacked a police officer when contacted on the streets.
- Michael Brown, while beating the officer in his patrol car, was shot in the hand.
- Michael Brown never had his hands up and never said “don’t shoot.”
- The shooting of Michael Brown was completely justified, and Officer Darren Wilson is exonerated.
But that didn’t happen. The facts from DOJ’s own report support everything I just listed, but somehow that didn’t get relayed to the nation. Instead, A.G. Holder then went into a new DOJ report detailing the ticketing practices of the Ferguson Police department and how it significantly impacted the black community. I don’t have a problem with anyone presenting evidence of poor enforcement practices by the Ferguson Police Department if changes need to be made, but what got skipped over here was the fact that the shooting of Michael Brown was justified.
This should matter to every citizen who carries a gun because it means it doesn’t matter if the shooting was lawful or justified. The important thing is “social justice”; and if you get run over on the road to “social justice,” so be it. A.G. Holder had an obligation to every person sworn to uphold the laws of this fine nation. As the Chief Law Enforcement Officer of the United States Government, A.G. Holder had an obligation to present the facts to the American people. He failed every person across the country that wears a badge; and did an injustice to us all by not clearing Officer Wilson’s good name.
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John Risenhoover is a Marine Corp veteran who served 26 years with ATF as a Senior Special Agent, Branch Chief and National Coordinator. While at ATF, he developed the DOJ and ATF National Strategy to combat actual gun violence without infringing on Americans’ 2nd Amendment Rights. He carries a Glock 27 in an Alien Gear 3.0 Cloak Tuck holster. He is currently employed as Director at CCW Safe.
The views expressed in this opinion article are solely those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by the owners of this website.