Tuesday, December 2, 2014

The Absolute Truth about What Heppened In Ferguson

I’m a little behind the curve on this one, I know, but I’ve been busy.

Anyway, as promised, I’m going to reveal to you all what really went down in Ferguson, Missouri that day Michael Brown got killed. In a little bit. First, we need to discuss some facts. Admittedly I’m being facetious here, promising some big reveal, hinting at some hidden “inside” knowledge. I don’t have any. And my opinion on what happened, also admittedly, doesn’t count for much. They call it “two cents worth” for a reason, after all. But I do believe it is possible for each of us to get pretty close to the truth of what really happened between Officer Darren Wilson and Michael Brown, just by studying the two eyewitness accounts, the one given by Brown’s friend and the one by the police officer. The truth is not
“out there” this time; it’s in there. In the reports, that is. You just have to dig for it. Grab a shovel, anyone?
First off, neither account is 100% reliable. Both men are lying, the cop and the witness. Both are trying to make the whole thing look better for their case than the reality supports. But the two accounts do line up closely enough that, by juxtaposing them, we can shave away all the detritus and the superfluous and, again I say, hit pretty close to the mark.

Here’s the downlow, as agreed upon by both testimonies: Cop is driving by and sees two black youths walking in the street. Yes, it is a fact that Brown and his friend had just shoplifted some cigarillos from a store, but Cop does not question them regarding this offence. He tells them to walk on the sidewalk. According to his version of the story, he asks them as nicely and politely as possible. As my grandmother would have phrased it in her deep southern vernacular, “sugar woulda boiled up in his mouth” he was so sweet about it. I doubt it. More likely it was a curt “Get on the sidewalk!” or similar command. Not that it matters, really. Police officers are not required by law to sweet-talk anyone. It’s nice when they are polite, but they aren’t required to be. Brown and his friend say something along the lines of “We’re almost where we’re going.” And they were. Spitting distance from it. Cop, however, is not content with that answer and again tells them to get on the sidewalk. He says he was nice about it. Witness says otherwise. Cop then says Michael Brown mouthed off at him. Witness doesn’t think so, but agrees that Brown might have mumbled something under his breath.
Here’s where I call bullshit for the first time. Of COURSE Brown said something; it could have been under his breath. Cop says it was something rather vulgar and insulting. Could be that Cop only assumed it was vulgar and insulting because he didn’t really hear it all that clearly. In any case, it was this comment that incited Cop to do what he did next.

I get it. Cop felt he was being disrespected by these two “punks.” And the two DID ignore his admonition to walk on the sidewalk. Granted this is not a major offense, but still. Cop ain’t having none of it.
Here’s where the accounts really take divergent trajectories. Cop says he stops the car. We know he slammed on the brakes, and we know at this point he is no longer being polite. How do we know this? Human nature. It just makes sense. That’s the scalpel we must use to carve out the truth here. This is Wonder Woman’s magic lasso, thrown around the whole situation. How can we know if it’s true? If it makes sense it is in all likelihood true and if it doesn’t make sense it probably isn’t. It won’t get us “beyond the shadow of a doubt” but it’ll get us close enough for an educated opinion. So Brown and his friend have now disrespected Cop, or at the least Cop believes they have done so. He stops the car. And then…

Cop says that Michael brown charged him, pinning the door closed and keeping cop from getting out of the car. Testing confirms that Brown’s DNA was found inside the cop car, so we know he did in fact get very close to it. But Witness says that Cop grabbed Brown, not that Brown was the aggressor. Punches then get thrown. Cop says he was trying to beat Brown off of him. Witness says Brown is trying to fight his way free. Cop pulls out his gun and fires, hitting Brown, who backs off, allowing Cop to get out of the car.
Cop had testified that he couldn’t get to any other weapon—mace, billy club, Taser, kitchen sink, what have you—and so instead went for his gun. Sounds feasible. But certainly Cop could NOW, at this point in the juncture, have gotten his hands on some other weapon. But come on. He’s in the heat of the moment. Adrenaline is rushing through his veins. And he’s already got the gun in his hand.

Here, then, we come to the crux of the case, as far as I’m concerned. Cop says Brown charged him and so he opened fire. Witness says Brown was backing up. So which was it?

Does it make sense that a man already wounded, a man unarmed, would charge a man pointing a gun at him? A man who has ALREADY shot him? It wouldn’t seem so, but I am put in mind of squirrels. On numerous occasions over the course of my lifetime I’ve run over a squirrel with my car, although I genuinely do try not to. I will swerve to avoid them, every time. But there have been several instances where the squirrel had already gotten clear and would have been safe, but it turned and ran straight at my car, running straight under the wheels. In fear, it panics. And gets itself run over despite my best efforts. Is that what happened with Brown? In a moment of insensate fear and panic, in pain, adrenaline pumping, did he pull the equivalent of a bushy-tailed rodent tilting at a speeding automobile? It COULD have happened that way. I’m suspicious, but I have to concede that it’s possible.
There is one detail in Cop’s story, though, that makes me call bullshit. He says that Brown was reaching inside his waistband as he charged. As in, reaching for a gun. As in, Cop believed Brown was going for a gun when Cop unloaded into Brown. Bullshit. Cop was shading the account o make himself look better. A cop who shoots a man he believes to be armed, that looks a lot better on the record than a cop who shoots a man armed only with contraband cigarillos. (And Brown didn’t even have THEM at that point. He’d handed them off to witness.) Cop was lying when he said he saw Brown reaching into his pants for a gun. How can we know that? Common sense, remember. Even if Brown did go all kamikaze squirrel and charge the cop, it just doesn’t make sense that he’d be sticking his hand down his pants while doing it. Unless he had a gun. Which he didn’t. We know THAT for a fact. So what was he trying to do, adjust his fly while charging the man who had just shot him? B-to the-ull-to-the-shit. I don’t buy it.

As I promised, then, I will now reveal to you the absolute truth of what happened that day in Ferguson. You ready? Here it comes.
Both men did something stupid.

Of that and maybe that alone we can be certain beyond any doubt. Two men made stupid decisions. One of those men had a gun. And one ended up dead.
Brown was not the completely innocent victim many believe him to have been. Officer Wilson was not the upstanding policeman simply doing his duty, devoid of all culpability in this case. The truth lies, as it almost always does, somewhere between the two extremes. Tempers flared. This led to rash behavior from both men. And tragedy followed.

I truly believe that’s what happened. As for the rest of it, the specifics, I don’t know. How much did the fact that the two men had different color skin play a factor? I honestly don’t know. None of us know the full truth. Only Cop and Witness know where one’s truth ends and the other’s begins. All the rest of us can do is make an educated guess. Which is what I’ve just done. Like I said, worth about two cents.
As a guy who can on rare occasions be something of a hothead, I’m going to try, personally speaking, to take from this a lesson, that I should try not to lose my cool, even when I believe I’m totally in the right. Bad things can happen when tempers flare.

If lessons can be learned that will help prevent more situations like this from occurring in the future, at least one good thing can come out of the whole terrible mess.
Peace, y’all.