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What Is Known about the Ferguson Shooting

We don't as yet know anything like all the facts necessary to reach a judgment about whether the police officer who shot and killed Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo. acted justifiably or committed murder, or something in between.

But we have learned some facts, and I want to present them without comment.

--  The Washington Post and numerous other outlets report that Brown was shot six times, all from the front, and had marijuana in his system.  The claim that he was shot from behind appears to be false.

--  Minutes before he and the officer encountered one another, Brown and another male robbed a convenience store and, in doing so, forcibly shoved a clerk much smaller in stature. The video is here.

--  It is often the case that a single shot will not disable a person charging at a police officer (which is not to say that Brown was, in fact, charging the officer here, a question that remains unsettled).

--  Brown was 6'4" and weighed 292 pounds, which, I believe, is larger than the average size of an NFL player.

--  One report  in a local paper states that Brown had recently taken up "rap" lyrics, which included, as apparently is usual for such things, explicit references to drugs and violence.

I repeat that none of these facts, individually or together, provides even a rudimentary basis for judgment.  But facts they are.


Those aren't the only facts known about the Ferguson shooting. Here are some more: Brown was unarmed and thirty five feet away from the police car when he was struck with eight bullets. While four witnesses stated that he did appear to scuffle with the officer at the car, they also agreed that there was no physical aggression shown by Brown towards the officer at the time he was shot. The officer did not complete an incident report in the twenty four hours after the incident and the Ferguson police acted in an outlandishly defensive fashion following the shooting, showing far less interest in investigating the incident and keeping the community informed than in covering their own behinds.

You know what, the more I read the less I know. He was hit six times, not eight. I'd prefer to delete my last comment. We will know what we know when we know it. It is too soon to draw meaningful conclusions, as my comment and Bill's post both document.

Agreed. I have refrained from commenting on the shooting itself for just that reason. I will predict, though, that the police department response will be prominently featured in law enforcement seminars for a good many years as the "how not to do it" example.

BTW, as Yahoo does not provide a recognizable user name, could you "sign" your comments with a "handle" in the text. It helps to be able to see easily which comments are from the same person. Thanks.

As noted in the entry, I also refrained from commenting on the shooting itself, and confined myself to relaying facts sans speculation about what they will turn out to mean.

Still, there are some disquieting things already going on with DOJ's, academic and press reaction. It bears an unfortunate similarity to the distorted reporting and ideologically slanted prejudgment that was going on in the Trayvon Martin case, and I expect to have something to say about that later today and throughout the week.

While it may be prudent to withold comment on the shooting until more is known, it is not premature to say that Obama and Holder have already placed their "thumb on the scales of justice" in their early entrance into this case in a futile attempt to mollify the "protesters."

There is way too much unknown about this situation. The rioting is pointless - if the facts reveal the officer's version of events was correct then , the rioters will look really dumb. If it turns out the officer did shoot Brown while he was surrendering, presumably he will be indicted and that is how the system works - no need to riot.

Matthew, you are assuming that "the rioters" are concerned with "the facts." I tend to believe that they are in the "Don't bother me with the facts, my mind is made up," and I have a different agenda, category.

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