Nearly three years after Officer Darren Wilson fatally shot 18-year-old Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, a filmmaker has released previously unseen surveillance video that doesn't just challenge the official narrative about the African-American teen’s death at the hands of a white officer, but also reaffirms what the black community has claimed since the tragic incident.
After the case gained international attention and created a new generation of black activists, aka the Black Lives Matter movement, the Ferguson police released CCTV footage from a nearby store showing the victim pushing an employee and taking cigarillos from him. The authorities dubbed it a strong-armed robbery, which reportedly took place hours before Wilson shot Brown.
However, the new footage obtained by filmmaker Jason Pollock and included in his documentary “Strange Fruit” suggests the teenager was actually engaging in an exchange of goods — it was not a robbery.
The new video, though unverified, showed Brown entering a convenience store after midnight on the day he died and handing a small bag, believed to contain marijuana, to employees behind the counter. The employees passed the bag around, smelling its content, after one of them handed Brown cigarillos. The teen walked away before coming back and handing the items back to the employee.
Pollock believes it was for safekeeping.
Brown returned to the store close to noon the next morning and waited at the counter.
“[Brown] left his items at the store and he went back the next day to pick them up,” narrated Pollock in the documentary, which premiered at the South by Southwest festival. “Mike did not rob the store.”
He also asserted the police purposely withheld this particular video to characterize Brown as a “thug” — which is exactly what happened.
“They destroyed Michael’s character with the tape, and they didn’t show us what actually happened,” Pollock told the Times. “So this shows their intention to make him look bad and shows suppression of evidence.”
Lesley McSpadden, Brown's mother, also said there was “some type of exchange, for one thing, for another.” She claimed the police department didn’t show that “there was an understanding.”
Meanwhile, a lawyer for Ferguson Market and Liquor employees disputed the claims and said the newly surfaced video had nothing to do with Brown’s second visit to the store.
“There was no transaction,” attorney Jay Kanzler told The New York Times. “There was no understanding. No agreement. Those folks didn’t sell him cigarillos for pot. The reason he gave it back is he was walking out the door with unpaid merchandise and they wanted it back.”
He further called Pollock’s video “neither new nor news,” suggesting the video was not publicly released because it was “irrelevant.”
The Twitterverse, on the other hand, definitely had a lot to say about the new evidence:
What they did to Mike Brown was absolutely reprehensible. Murdered a kid then assassinated his character as justification.— Marcus H. Johnson (@marcushjohnson) March 12, 2017
Replace "new" in #mikebrown footage with "suppressed" or "hidden"— Khaled Beydoun (@KhaledBeydoun) March 12, 2017
The new footage of Mike Brown is a reminder of how those in power use the demonization of BP to justify reprehensible acts.— MaryAnn A. (@callmeminxiemay) March 12, 2017
Remember in the initial report, Darren Wilson claimed he told Mike Brown to move out of the street.That whole robbery suspect lie came later— Tariq Nasheed (@tariqnasheed) March 12, 2017
There were so many lies told about Mike Brown it's insane. His case was not about justice, it was about white supremacists getting on code— Tariq Nasheed (@tariqnasheed) March 12, 2017
So now new footage that was buried by police show that Mike Brown did NOT rob that store in Ferguson. We've been saying that for years— Tariq Nasheed (@tariqnasheed) March 12, 2017
So Mike Brown didnt rob that store and it took almost 3 years to figure this out wow. This is the country that we are living in.— John ???? (@SleepyFlacko) March 12, 2017
We should keep in mind the store owner did say mike brown didnt rob the store. #MIKEBROWN— Robshaun (@RobTakeOver) March 12, 2017
Whites: "Omg the cops lied about Mike Brown robbing that convenient store after all"— Eobard Thawne (@FrankenFert) March 12, 2017
Black people nationwide: pic.twitter.com/sdzVVWT47C
Banner and thumbnail credit: Reuters, Joshua Lott