Ferguson: what they saw, and what they didn’t see

The Washington Post assembles detailed, eye-witness accounts of the shooting of Michael Brown.  In the end, they’re a reminder of how fallible and contradictory memory can be:

A family in a minivan — mother and father up front, two adult daughters and a granddaughter in the back — had just pulled into the Canfield Green apartment complex, on the way to visit a friend. Everyone in the van had the same vantage point through the front windshield, yet the accounts they gave the grand jury suggested different realities, starting with what Brown was wearing: “blue jeans, white T-shirt, tennis shoes,” the father said. No, the mother said: shorts, “socks with flip-flops and a big shirt.”

The father saw Brown face the officer and point something toward him. “I thought I saw a glint,” he testified. “I believe it was a gun.” One daughter at first told investigators that she thought Brown had been shot in the leg or hip before he ran from Wilson. But she told the grand jury that it was just Brown’s body movements that suggested he’d been shot.

The four family members who testified each had different impressions of Brown’s final movements. The mother said she wasn’t sure whether Brown “was trying to charge the officer or run past him,” but she wondered whether he was “crazy” because he kept moving toward Wilson.

The daughter sitting behind the mother said Brown “took a couple steps and he might have been stumbling or I’m not sure exactly what he was doing.”  The other daughter, sitting in the same middle row of the van, was adamant that Brown charged. “He was charging this officer and that’s how I feel it was, like he was running towards him,” she said. “If he had got close enough, I feel like he would have tackled him up against the car.”

The father described Brown taking three to four steps toward the officer. But “it wasn’t fast enough to be a charge,” he said.

The prosecutor asked one daughter whether the family had discussed what they saw from the minivan.

“Yes, we did,” answered the daughter who sat behind her mother in the van.

“And in doing that, did you realize that you all kind of saw different things?” the prosecutor asked.

“Yes, we did,” the daughter answered.


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