The New Witnesses To Old News

For a while, it seems as if the killing Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, had legs. It remains on our radar with images of residents and media corralled like vermin in their own country, a sight that seemed to finally resonate with people who were disinclined to sprain a synapse thinking unhappy thoughts.

But the legs finally gave out.  So what if the revelation of the purported theft of Swisher Sweets because of so many FOIA requests was a lie?  So what if the cop’s story came via unnamed (except for “Joise”), unknown witnesses, whose story was served up a call-in to a talk show, as opposed to named, scrutinized witnesses?  It was sufficient to blunt our vision and concern.  And really, that was all that was needed to take our focus off Michael Brown, the armed troops of police bringing order  back to Ferguson and the causes of misery in the suburbs of St. Louis.

Plus, there was a new iPhone coming out.

Two more witnesses have come forward.  Did you know about that? Now that you do, do you care?

Two men, shocked at what they saw, describe an unarmed teenager with his hands up in the air as he’s gunned down by a police officer.

They were contractors doing construction work in Ferguson, Missouri, on the day Michael Brown was killed.

And the men, who asked not to be identified after CNN contacted them, said they were about 50 feet away from Officer Darren Wilson when he opened fire.

An exclusive video captures their reactions during the moments just after the shooting.

The point of the video immediately after Michael Brown’s killing is to show their reaction while they were still under the influence of the shock.  It’s akin to an “excited utterance,” an exception to the evidentiary rule that precludes hearsay from being admitted at trial.  The reason it’s an exception is that it was made so soon after a startling event that the person uttering the words wouldn’t have the time to consider an improper reason to construct a false narrative.  In other words, the law deems it sufficiently reliable that it could be used as evidence.

“He had his f**n hands up,” one of the men says in the video.

The man told CNN he heard one gunshot, then another shot about 30 seconds later.

“The cop didn’t say get on the ground. He just kept shooting,” the man said.

That same witness described the gruesome scene, saying he saw Brown’s “brains come out of his head,” again stating, “his hands were up.”

CNN has the video,  and you can watch Anderson Cooper’s report about it. But most of you won’t, because there is little reason to spend your valuable time watching old news.  The killing of Michael Brown, the seizure of Ferguson, is old news.

I was asked a question on tweeter the other day about how long it would take for the local prosecutor, Bob McCulloch, to present the case against Police Officer Darren Wilson, and how long a grand jury term lasts before they all go home. It’s a question that can’t be easily answered, but is also unlikely to matter.

The prosecutor’s office is asking for patience as forensics and autopsy evidence are presented to the grand jury, which is meeting four to eight hours each Wednesday. Witness testimony is still being gathered, Magee said.

Two attorneys at the prosecutor’s office, Kathi Alizadeh and Sheila Whirley, are presenting the evidence to the grand jury, Magee said. Alizadeh, with 26 years on the job, including 22 murder cases, is leading the presentation.

“People just need to wait,” Magee said. “People are still coming forward and we are still waiting for the investigation to be completed.”

Charges are brought directly when there is a “clear-cut probable cause,” Magee said. adding that there is no such clarity in the Brown shooting.

This sounds about right, but it’s nonsense.  If this was true for all, it should be true for Wilson.  But it’s not true for all.  If it had been you, or me, we would have been arrested immediately and the grand jury presentation would have been over in an hour or two.  The rest would be fleshed out later.  Still, it makes for a great story to soothe concerns, as if the prosecution is just trying to be thorough and fair.  Who can argue with thorough or fair?

The locals in Ferguson still protest. They demand a special prosecutor because nobody around there trusts McCulloch, perhaps because he loves his cops, or perhaps because he’s handled this case differently from the others.

In the 33 cases prosecuted by McCulloch’s office, police officers were charged with a range of crimes that included allegations of rape, assault and murder. In most of those cases, McCulloch’s office leveled charges directly and did not take the cases to a grand jury.

Those 33 cases, spanning 23 years, have never included an officer killing a suspect.  Certainly, they have never included a case as volatile as this, or as subject to national scrutiny.  But then, national scrutiny is a fragile thing.

Protests have been persistent but less violent in recent weeks – until Wednesday, when about three dozen protesters were arrested after demonstrators tried to block a U.S. highway through St. Louis and clashed with police.

A month ago, this would have been big news.  Now, it’s old news.  It’s very hard to sustain interest, to maintain focus, as time goes by.  So what did you think of that new iWatch?

17 thoughts on “The New Witnesses To Old News

  1. Ted H.

    Can’t watch cable news any more — it has attention span of an ADD or bi-polar child. The questions raised here are tough, and require actual analysis and criticism of the system from which the media profits. Most of those reporters don’t give two shits about due process, they were just hoping to land a permanent cable show. If we actually did the leg work to hold one another accountable, then there wouldn’t be the next exciting scandal, because perhaps officials would not act with such impunity for fear of being held accountable for their lies and misdirections. Plus, now we can discuss how improperly civilized the poor are and “have discussions” about where the baseline is drawn between corporeal punishment and child abuse. Also, analysis and criticism that is based in reason and fact is difficult and boring, both to execute and comprehend. However, the goings on of an organization that sells leisure and entertainment at the expense of mens’ bodies is so much more interesting now; heads must roll for spousal abuse that we can see — I mean its so easy the video is right there, or the admissions are right there in the police report. This “discussion” has already been had, and we’ve moved on. Americans being beheaded somewhere far away near Russia or something — yuck! — a formerly poor rich guy who whipped his kid and is unrepentant, that’s entertainment!


    These scandals are akin to a drug, the consumers get excited, then it wears off, and what’s left is the slow, grinding wheels of the bureaucracy. That part is boring. Not enough people truly want to change the system, because without it, they wouldn’t be able to get their next fix.

  2. John Barleycorn

    Is there a pollinating post about grand juries and mustard seed fields floating around in your mind esteemed one?

    If so, just imagine the exponential improvements to the snacking and dining experience you could bring to future grand jurors one clear-cut probable cause jar of mustard at a time.

    1. peck2

      Grand Juries. Sinc e they hear only the prosecutions side of a case, why are they even relevant? My personal experience with one proved that they hear only the lies of the LEOS and the “persecutor”, no defense or exculpatory evidence allowed. And the next Grand Jury was to be led by a judges wife. Lots of honesty and search for “justice” there.

      1. SHG Post author

        They were created with the best of intentions. It just hasn’t worked out as planned, like so many well-intended ideas.

  3. Fubar

    “People just need to wait,” Magee said. “People are still coming forward and we are still waiting for the investigation to be completed.”

    From a discarded draft of a press release:

    To Brown’s death, rapid churning press froth
    Drew attention, like flame draws a moth.
    To clear Wilson we need
    Much more time. We’ll proceed
    With all deliberate sloth.

  4. Bill

    O.K., so after this crap, then another video will pop-up and another witness. Don’t really give a da*n which way it turns out, I’ll still support Officer Wilson in this situation. Moral of the story is, if you don’t want to be arrested or shot, then act like responsible human being and not animals.

    1. SHG Post author

      No reason for you to give a damn about facts at all. You have an absolute right to be as much of a blithering idiot as you want to be. Other people prefer not to go through life with their head stuck up someone else’s butt, even a cop’s.

  5. lawrence kaplan

    Bill: Moral of the story is that if you want to be a cop, view the people you are there to serve and protect as human beings and not as enemies and scum to be beaten or gunned down at the slightest assumed “disrespect” or provocation.

    1. SHG Post author

      I’m sure Bill will be open to your thoughts, and this comment will change his mind.

      Even if he doesn’t see it because your comment didn’t “reply” to his.

      1. lawrence kaplan

        Bill was only the nominal addressee of my previous comment. But no doubt your insult will make him writhe in shame. By the way SHG, we ARE on the same side on this and most issues.

        1. SHG Post author

          Yes, I know we’re on the same side. I use a comment like Bill’s as demonstrative evidence of the ignorance of blind adoration of police. Such stupidity is unworthy of substantive response. Your intention of using it differently is fine, except to the extent that you forget that this is my soapbox to use as I think appropriate, and that I have a whole lot more experience dealing with such things than you.

          In other words, we are not in competition in how best to respond to Bill. Not here. Does it make more sense now?

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