Civil Liberties

Police Lied: Michael Brown Was Killed 148 Feet Away From Darren Wilson's SUV

Distance is essential to the defense and how Wilson must demonstrate that he reasonably feared for his safety.

For 104 days, the police have lied and said Michael Brown was killed 35 feet away from Darren Wilson's SUV. It was actually 148 feet.

This distance is essential to the defense and how Darren Wilson must demonstrate that he "reasonably feared for his safety." At the point in which Brown ran half a football field away, how reasonable is it for an armed officer to fear anyone?

On the afternoon of Aug. 9, 2014, Officer Darren Wilson shot and killed Michael Brown, an unarmed teenager, in Ferguson, Missouri. Below is the first video filmed from Canfield Drive, where the shooting occurred, showing the exact measurement between where Wilson's SUV was parked and Brown died. After that, we methodically debunk the lie that Brown was killed in close proximity to Wilson's SUV.

Our starting point, which is 17 feet behind the driver's side window of Wilson's SUV, is this yellow fire hydrant next to the storm drain.

Our end point is 2943 Canfield. Notice the building number in the back of this photo below where Brown's father and family members are standing over the exact location where Brown was killed.

Mike Brown's family at 2943 on Canfield at the exact spot of Mike Brown's death
Watch us measure the distance below.
So: 131 feet, 1 inch (distance between the fire hydrant and where Mike Brown died), + 17 feet (distance between the fire hydrant and the driver's side door of Darren Wilson's SUV) = 148 feet.

The St. Louis-area police have continued to advance this lie for over 104 days since Mike Brown was killed on Canfield Drive on the afternoon of August 9 in Ferguson, Missouri. Here we will methodically expose this lie and examine just why it's so important.

On this past Monday, Gov. Jay Nixon declared a state of emergency in Missouri in anticipation of some level of unrest regarding a decision from the grand jury in the Darren Wilson case. Covering this decision, and the case in general, CNN authoritatively states that Mike Brown was found 35 feet away from Darren Wilson's SUV. Watch just the first 20 seconds of this video to see how Erin Burnett frames the case:

Where the Lie Began

On Aug. 10, 2014, St. Louis County Police Chief John Belmar held his first press conference on the shooting of Michael Brown by Officer Darren Wilson of the nearby Ferguson Police Department. His force had been called in to take over the investigation for the much smaller local department. The shooting had occurred less than 24 hours earlier, and the tensions on the ground in Ferguson were already red hot and boiling over.

Six different witnesses on the scene claimed that Brown was shot at repeatedly from behind before he turned around, faced Wilson, verbally surrendered, and put his hands in the air. Wilson, having already shot at Brown at least six times while he fled, then fired off a barrage of four quick shots at the surrendered Brown he was looking at face to face, killing him on the spot. The shooting and the aftermath that evening infuriated residents as never before, and the anger spread rapidly across St. Louis and to the nation.

When Chief Belmar sat down the next day to brief the press on his summary of the facts, he stated at 1:13 (and then even more emphatically at 6:01) in the video below, "The entire scene, from approximately the car door (of Officer Wilson) to the shooting, is, uh, about 35 feet."

See his video below and pay attention to the statements at 1:13 & 6:01.

At that time, when the chief said the "entire scene" was just 35 feet in distance from the "car door to the shooting," every observer accepted it as a negligible fact and thought little about it, instead zeroing in on why Wilson stopped Brown in the first place and why a police officer would shoot a young man who was surrendering with his hands up.

It turns, out, though, that the distance Brown fled was not 35 feet, as was stated in the press conference and cited in hundreds of articles since. Nor was it 45 feet, or 75 feet, or even 95 feet, but approximately 148 feet away from Wilson’s SUV. Below, you will find photos from the day of the murder, maps, infographics, and more to confirm for you that the distance was more 500 percent farther away than originally claimed by Chief Belmar and subsequently quoted as fact in almost every narrative of the case.

While the initial reporting of this distance from the chief could have been an error, albeit an egregious one, it seems clear now, after over 100 days of requests for the police to clarify this discrepancy have only produced silence, that it wasn’t an oversight, but a deliberate misrepresentation of the facts.

What reason would the chief have for so seriously understating the distance by more than 110 feet? Well, how far Brown fled matters greatly, and the St. Louis County Police Department could have many reasons for purposely understating it. One doubts, though, that they expected to be caught telling this lie. When it was first told, while matters were tense in St. Louis and spreading on social media, nobody had any idea that this case would grip the nation and the world.

Without even using this space to dive into the actual shooting of Brown, it appears that some base level misconduct can be suspected when the St. Louis County Police Department has repeatedly refused to address the discrepancy in distance.

When the police came out the morning after Brown was killed and deliberately included the distance between the SUV and the shooting, it successfully created a very particular narrative. The arc of their initial story, magnified in importance by the absence of even one official report, is that Darren Wilson shot and killed a young man who, in a short distance from the SUV, posed him grave harm. How far Brown actually fled, how far Wilson chased him, and where each of them were in relation to each other and to the SUV, are facts of paramount importance. If Brown fled over 148 feet away from Wilson, it clearly suggests that Brown—unarmed, shot, missing a shoe—feared for his life and not the other way around.

Furthermore, police, in many cases, use the distance in which a suspect flees and the distance between them in an encounter as evidence to prove they were reasonably afraid for their safety—which is required by law.

What follows is evidence to the contrary. Brown fled at least 148 feet away from Wilson's SUV. If the police will lie about this fact, what else have they openly lied about? Did they present this false distance to the grand jury? Why does the media continue to advance this lie? Here are the facts.

Here is a rarely seen panorama of Canfield Drive moments after Brown was killed. Few images better display that the distance was not a very short 35 feet than this one.
This is Wilson's SUV. Where you see it here is exactly where he parked it to confront Brown and Dorian Johnson for jaywalking. Out of sight in this image, to the left of the driver's side door, is Brown's hat (shown in a later image below). Approximately 16 feet behind the SUV is Brown's black sandal, which came off while he was running. Please notice the fire hydrant to the right of the SUV.
On the center left is Wilson's SUV from the opposite angle. Notice the two orange cones next to the driver's side door. That's Brown's red St. Louis Cardinals hat next to it.
Using this image, let's create starting line A. As effective landmarks, please notice the fire hydrant on the right and the sloping entrance into the apartments. From the back of Wilson's SUV, Brown fled over 131 feet down Canfield Drive. The exact location where Brown died is today marked by a memorial in the middle of the street.
This is ending line B. Brown is the blurred figure on the ground. That is Wilson, visibly uninjured in every image of him from that day, standing to the right. According to eyewitnesses Dorian Johnson, Tiffany Mitchell, and Piaget Crenshaw, Brown turned around, faced Wilson and his SUV, and put his hands in the air.
Mike Brown's family at 2943 on Canfield at the exact spot of Mike Brown's death
Brown's family at 2943 on Canfield at the exact spot of Brown's death
 
This map shows the exact location of 2943, the exact spot where Mike Brown was killed.
This map shows the exact location of 2943, the exact spot where Brown was killed.
attribution: None Specified
Using Google Maps, the approximate distance from the front of Wilson's SUV to where Brown was shot before falling down is actually 148 feet.
(Thank you to Argus News for measuring and filming the measurement of the distance.)

ORIGINALLY POSTED TO SHAUNKING ON THU NOV 20, 2014 AT 08:31 PM PST.

Shaun King is a member of the DailyKos contributor community.