The St. Louis Post Dispatch is reporting that two new witnesses to the Michael Brown shooting in Ferguson, Missouri, have given statements to the FBI. According to the paper, these witnesses differ from all the other eyewitnesses in that they have no personal connection to Michael Brown, his family or the Ferguson community.
The new witnesses are workers who were working at the Canfield Green apartment complex, where the shooting occurred. Both work for a Jefferson County, Missouri company, and neither live in Ferguson. According to the Post Dispatch, both men have given statements to the FBI and the St. Louis County police. One agreed to speak with the Post Dispatch on condition of anonymity.
The worker said that he did not see what happened at officer Darren Wilson’s police car, but his description of what took place after Wilson’s initial contact with Brown matches the description of events offered by other witnesses. However, his description offers little additional insight into whether Brown was moving towards Wilson in a threatening manner at the moment Wilson shot him multiple times. That may be the most important piece of the puzzle for a grand jury trying to determine whether Wilson was justified in using deadly force.
According to the worker’s account, he first saw Brown at about 11 AM, as Brown walked down Canfield Avenue. His co-worker cursed as he struck a tree root while digging. Brown heard him and stopped to talk. The worker described what followed as a “rambling half hour conversation.” He said he paid little attention to most of it, but he did hear Brown tell the other worker that he was “feeling some bad vibes,” and that “the Lord Jesus Christ would help me through that as long as I didn’t get all angry at what I was doing.”
The co-worker told his story of the conversation and the shooting to St. Louis’s Fox affiliate KTVI last month:
Worker describes Michael Brown’s last minutes.
About half an hour after the co-worker’s conversation with Brown, the two heard a gunshot. When he looked, he saw Michael Brown running away from the police car. Officer Wilson was behind him, and when he fired another shot, the worker says that Brown stumbled, put his hands up and turned around. Wilson stopped, about ten feet in front of Brown. According to the worker, Brown began walking towards Wilson, hands in the air.
Wilson began backing up, and fired several more shots. After the third shot Brown began to lower his hands. The worker, who says he was watching from about 50 feet away, could not tell whether Brown’s movement towards Wilson after Wilson fired was “a stumble to the ground” or “OK, I’m gonna get you, you’re already shooting me.”
The co-worker told KTVI that Wilson:
Didn’t say, ‘Get on the ground.’ He didn’t say anything. At first his gun was down and then he … got about 8 to 10 feet away from him … I heard six, seven shots … it seemed like seven. Then he put his gun down. That’s when Michael stumbled forward. I’d say about 25 feet or so and then fell right on his face.
Wilson’s supporters have claimed that Brown was charging at Wilson, but this witness says that was not the case. He told the Post Dispatch, “I don’t know if he was going after him or if he was falling down to die. It wasn’t a bull rush.”