There are Two Sides to Every Story in Ferguson
We've listened to the media tell us, ad nauseum, the side of Michael Brown, a person who is dead and can't speak for himself, and his friend, Dorian Johnson, who survived the incident.
We have heard how Brown was shot down in cold blood, hands up, saying "Please don't shoot," according to his friend.
We have heard how Brown was "grabbed by the neck by the officer with one hand and shot with the other hand." While the officer was taken to the hospital to address "swelling to the face" from the incident, the autopsy noted that it was not readily clear there was a physical altercation between the two.
We've heard a lot of details and the media has worked hard to embed these facts in the American psyche even as there is a lack of information from the other side of the story. The media has unfortunately fed the red meat to the masses while failing to even recognize that there is an entirely different side to this.
Ferguson police did a poor job of information management and released a video showing these two men involved in a strong arm robbery at the same time they released the name of the officer. The immediate reaction to this video was that it was "irrelevant", was mutually exclusive from the shooting itself.
We've heard about the "violence" of the police in response to peaceful protesters, but the media has failed to give similar attention to the 3 shootings that did not involve officers, several businesses burned to the ground and a plethora of other violence by the community, from destruction of property to throwing Molotov cocktails at police and others.
There has silently been floating out there a rendition of the officer's side of the story. The media has refused to report on it, justifiably in some respects, because it was a second, perhaps third hand account of the officers point of view. Today that version of the officers story was verified by someone inside the investigation as matching what the officer has told investigators in his interviews.
There has also been a video that has surfaced mostly currently on right wing sites that has the account of an eyewitness of the incident that appears to corroborate the officer's side of the story.
The autopsy indicates that while the officer shows signs of a physical altercation between the two men, there is no indication on Brown's body that shows he was in physical contact with the officer -- that there is no bruising or marking of any sort that indicates that Brown was grabbed and held by the neck during this first part of the incident.
While witnesses from a distance say Brown's hands were up, and the autopsy show that at least one of Brown's hands was up due to one of the locations of a wound, it is not clear that Brown's hands were ever raised up in a "surrender" manner and that they just could have easily been raised, about shoulder height, reaching for the officer as Brown rushed towards him.
That the video of the strong arm robbery was inappropriate or not relevant simply isn't true either. That the officer didn't know about the robbery at the initial stop and stopped the men for jaywalking is meaningless. Brown and Johnson were well aware of what they just did. When the officer started to leave and got the robbery call and backed up, they knew what they had just done. They knew that they were looking at an arrest for a possibly felony crime. When you watch the video of the strong arm robbery, Brown has no hestitation or qualms in using his size to push around and intimidate the store owner -- given his state of mind, the very likely possibility he was about to be arrested, the possibility that Brown was the initiator of the physical altercation against an officer seems increasingly likely now.
Brown wouldn't be the first, nor will he be the last person to have committed a crime only to be stopped for something ridiculous after the crime and fight the cops. Ted Bundy comes to mind... Eric Rudolph getting caught rifling through the trash comes to mind.
One has to wonder how far our media has sunk -- rather than trying to maintain a semblence of fair facts and balanced information. Rather than telling the public to remember that there are still many unknown facts to come to light and that we shouldn't jump to conclusions, they have driven this case right off the cliff based on half a story.
Whatever the outcome of this case, what is clear is that this community has to continue to live and work together. They have a relationship with their police force that has completely alienated all sides. None of them have made moving forward with solutions in this much easier.
If they want to move forward several things need to happen now -- wait for the facts, all the facts. The investigation is not done. We still don't know what happened, we still don't have information on many aspects of this case.
They need to start listening to each other. Whatever the outcome of this case, this is a community that doesn't have a healthy relationship with their police. They're not going to get it by demeaning every last officer and throwing Molotov cocktails any more than the police are going to gain the communities respect by gearing up and arresting everyone for every petty thing they can come up with.
You folks are stuck with each other. CNN will leave. All the famous faces and reporters will be walking away. Sooner that you think. You will be yet another footnote to those of us around the country. It's just the way it is. Now is the time to start thinking about what the solutions are, how is everyone going to behave and try to resolve the problems when the world is no longer looking?