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New Footage of Michael Brown Discussed at Emotional SXSW Panel

More than two years later, details of the events the preceded the police shooting in Ferguson remain fuzzy.

Pollock, Brown, and others at SXSWPollock, far left; Brown Sr., second from left. Photo: Stephanie SladeFilmmaker Jason Pollock says he uncovered explosive video footage that proves Missouri police suppressed evidence in order to create the impression that Michael Brown, the teenager shot by a cop in Ferguson, Missouri, in 2014, robbed a convenience store shortly before the encounter.

A new documentary that premiered at the movie, music, and tech festival South by Southwest (SXSW) this weekend includes a clip from a security camera that allegedly shows Brown entering the shop around 1 o'clock that morning and exchanging a small item with a clerk for a couple of cartons of cigarillos. But before leaving, Brown hands the bag back over the counter. Pollack says he was trading marijuana for the goods but decided to come back for them later—thus providing an alternative explanation for footage, released by officials in the aftermath of the shooting, that appeared to show Brown forcing his way out of the store later that day without paying for some merchandise.

A lawyer representing the owners of the store denied that accusation, telling The New York Times late last week, "There was no transaction." Then today, St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Bob McCulloch went even further, calling the documentary, Stranger Fruits, "pathetic" and suggesting the pivotal clip was doctored.

A very angry Pollack appeared with Brown's father, Brown's uncle, a local reporter who covers Ferguson, and the mayor of a nearby town on a SXSW panel this afternoon, immediately after McCulloch's statement. "Anybody been watching television the last 24 hours?" he asked. "Michael didn't rob the fucking store."

"In some ways I think that fake news began by the Ferguson Police," he added, "to make us think that Michael Brown was a bad guy, to make us think that he deserved to be killed in the middle of the street and left there for four and a half hours."

The director—who became ever more animated over the course of the 75-or-so-minute session—contrasted starkly with the other panelists, who largely remained calm and composed. Brown's father, Michael Brown Sr., was the heart of the event, even as he was the quietest person there. At one point, when Pollock began fuming about reporters who ask the elder Brown how he feels about his son's death, the still-grieving dad respectfully demurred.

"It's like, are you fucking kidding me?" Pollack said. "This is everybody, though. Everybody asks him that question."

"Some people don't know no better," Brown replied. "In the beginning it made me angry. But I run across a lot of people that just don't know what to say, so if they do get some type of courage, of course it might just come out crazy. I hug them anyway and go on about my way...Treating people a certain type of way because I feel a certain type of way, it's not healthy. I still greet them with respect and show them love, and some people will realize, like, 'Ooh, I didn't mean to say it like that.' It's OK...I'm not the type of person that's going to take it the wrong way. I understand."

He went on to talk about the organization he started to help him cope, the Michael Brown Chosen for Change Foundation, and the annual retreat he runs for fathers who have lost a child to police violence. "We all get together once a year and participate in trying to heal," he said. "We think that the man is supposed to be this tough guy. But we hurt too. We might hold it in in a different type of way. But we need healing too."

Photo Credit: Stephanie Slade

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  • Malvolio||

    So his defense is, "Brown isn't a thief, he's a drug-dealer"? How does that change anything?

  • josh||

    I've heard the director say that this doesn't make Brown a drug dealer. It was simply inner-city commerce according to him, and if we lived in those communities, we'd be paying for shit with drugs too.

  • Bearded Spock||

    I know when I complete a transaction in an inner-city convenience store I make sure to grab the proprietor by the neck before I leave.

    It's kinda like a handshake in other cultures; a sign of friendship and mutual understanding.

  • josh||

    The lamest effort to spin this is the suggestion that, after his "purchase", he left the item there because he wanted to come back for it.

  • IceTrey||

    That was a different time. The new clip is at 1am. The alleged robbery was at 12pm the same day.

  • aajax||

    non-violent history vs. violent history.

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    More like... SJsW... amirite?

  • AlmightyJB||

    OMG! Who the hell cares.

  • IceTrey||

    Anyone who thinks cops are out of control.

  • Praveen R.||

    A low rent drug dealer is not the same as a thug. That's what changes.

    I personally believed both sides need to cut their losses with this issue as the issue is way too muddied. I read both sides but other than extrapolating where the officer's gun was, I don't see how one can definitively tell if Brown reached for the gun. Whta if Wilson himself was moving the gun too close towards Brown. Wilson's pics after the incident are laughably off mark as to how he described being attacked. But then the account put forward by some witnesses sympathetic to Brown was off mark.

    BLM has a lot more clear cut cases of cop abuse which are documented and taped with more credible witnesses to concentrate on. Example: Robbie Tolan in Houston

    I personally think based on how Darren Willson characterized his beat to be a guy who didn't think of the people he was overseeing as part of "his people". I just got that from his tone and choice of words in his interview. One tends to react faster at the smallest sign of danger when you have such an attitude. And I think that's what happened. However, the case is so muddied that I think it's terrible strategy to keep this case as the showcase example of cop abuse no matter what one thinks of Wilson.

  • Kandralla||

    You would be a little snarky too had you just become the scapegoat upon which all the blame for the 70 years of failures of everyone from the citizenry on the bottom, through the police up to the federal government that had anything to do with the situation in the north of St. Louis county.

    My take is that Darren Wilson was in the wrong place at the wrong time and got to suffer from the ire of the citizenry and the incompetence of the powers that be that probably should have just admitted straight up that "this was not your racist cop" instead of trying to placate people with a mock grand jury so they could Pontius Pilate their way out of responsibility for the riots that ended up happening anyway.

    I lived in St. Louis at the time and it was interesting listening to the hushed whispers of the people that actually lived there that all went with some variant of "that boy didn't deserve to die, but boy did he do a dumb thing" as opposed to the "Darren Wilson is the Devil-Satan" that played as the local opinion in the media.

  • Brendan||

    Even if we accept that he didn't rob the store (I don't), that doesn't change him fighting with and charging at the cop.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    If that's what happened. I'm not challenging the story, just saying we have no real proof either way. A charitable read on the release of the original footage was to suggest there was a purpose to the stop, as opposed to trying to smear the deceased, except the police were not consistent on whether Wilson was even aware the apparent robbery happened when he encountered Brown.

    The bottom line is there is no narrative here we can rely on with absolute certainty. This new footage isn't the smoking gun - excuse the phrase - that the filmmaker is presenting it as, just as the shooter's or witness testimony at the time wasn't anything resembling proof.

  • Free Society||

    I'm not challenging the story, just saying we have no real proof either way.

    I challenge that. Mike Brown's skin and blood was found in the slide of the cops gun, as if grabbed while firing, and a bullet hole was found inside the cop's own car where it is claimed that Brown tried to wrestle it away from him.

    I can't fathom how Mike Brown's flesh was found in the cop's gun if he was not in much closer proximity to the cop than his (alleged) armed robbery accomplice claimed, as utterly reliable as such a witness may seem.

  • IceTrey||

    If someone pointed a gun at you in close quarters wouldn't you grab at it? Don't forget he was killed 154 feet from the car.

  • DanO.||

    we have no real proof either way

    HAHAHAHAHAHA.
    Sorry. But since when has that stopped anyone here from opining?

  • aajax||

    It changes the credibility of the story about charging at the cop. Really, what's their excuse for suppressing the earlier video if that's what they did?

  • JeremyR||

    Apparently he only showed part of the footage. The rest of it, which he cut out, shows the clerks giving the drugs back to Brown

    Go to STLToday (which is St. Louis's only newspaper of note) and look at the top story. I can't link they use gigantic ones.

    "McCulloch said the footage Pollock used had been altered, and the complete version shows Brown "attempting to barter" with store employees, who refused the package put on the counter. Brown returned the merchandise to the counter and took back the small package before leaving the store, McCulloch said. The footage then shows an employee putting the Cigarillos back on the shelves after Brown leaves, McCulloch said.

    "It's not as though (this footage) was hidden away somewhere, as this fellow with his video project was trying to say," McCulloch said. "Even his pathetic video shows the police report where he got the information. It's all there, and it's been there since 2014. It's all available and not edited.

    "This is a clear attempt to distort this and turn it into something it isn't ... There was no transaction, but there certainly was an attempt to barter for these goods, but the store employees had no involvement in that, and when he left, they put everything where it belonged ... It's very clear there was no transaction between Mr. Brown and the store employees and to suggest he's coming back to get what he bartered for is just stupid."

  • Kevin47||

    This is an attempt to resurrect a story that, in the main, largely discredited what should have been a nascent consensus around curbing police abuse. And it still demonstrates nothing.

  • SIV||

    ^THIS^

    You couldn't have devised a better campaign to dismiss concerns about police abuse and rally the citizenry around the boys in blue than #BlackLivesMatter.

  • IceTrey||

    Wilson lied about Brown charging him. See my post below.

  • WakaWaka||

    Maybe I'm missing something here, but I don't get what this new video has to do with him being shot. The DOJ determined that it was a justifiable stop and that Brown reached for the officer's gun and therefore the shooting was warrented. If this had been Jeff Session's DOJ maybe I'd be skeptical of the findings, but it was Eric Holder's DOJ that was looking for something, anything, to bring charges against the officer.

    There is a problem with excessive force by police, but this story and the multiple fabrications (hands up, don't shoot, for instance) only discredits efforts at criminal reform.

  • IceTrey||

    No the DOJ determined no civil rights violations had occured. The question of it being a good shoot was a state matter.

  • SIV||

    Jeeze Stephanie, "real reporting" on fabricated fake news is still fake news

  • josh||

    Move along...nothing to see here.

  • damikesc||

    "He didn't rob the store. He just didn't use money to get the merchandise and the merchant didn't agree with it. Totes different".

    And it is irrelevant to the shooting, but hey, while we're at it, shall we re-try OJ, too?

  • josh||

    "shall we re-try OJ, too?"

    Didn't you hear, Martin Sheen already did it. You won't believe what happened!

  • Bearded Spock||

    He just used one weird trick!

  • damikesc||

    And it is becoming clear that there is literally nothing of value at SXSW,

  • Bearded Spock||

    One would think Reason learned a valuable lesson the last time they hastily jumped on the Michael Brown Bandwagon, but apparently the lure of Cop-Bashing overcomes their common sense.

    Michael Brown attacked a cop, the cop responded the way a cop -- or any other reasonable person -- normally would in that situation, and Mr. Brown assumed ambient temperature as a result of his actions.

    It was a Good Shoot. Even the Obama Justice Department agreed, and Lord knows they would have found any reason to railroad Wilson if one had existed.

  • damikesc||

    Using Reason logic, a police officer has no apparent right to defend himself. The investigation showed that Brown went for the gun. What, precisely, was the officer supposed to do?

  • IceTrey||

    Brown was killed 154 feet from the car. He ran after getting shot in the hand. Wilson chased him 175 feet. He had called for back up so he could have just stayed in his car.

  • damikesc||

    Brown was charging at him. He shot him dead, as he should have. No loss at all.

  • IceTrey||

    No. From where Brown turned back towards Wilson he made it 21 feet. The audio of the shots lasts 3.5 seconds. That means Brown was moving at 4 mph or walking speed.

  • A Thinking Mind||

    Two things I know. The Ferguson police department had serious issues and the state's response to Fergudson displayed poor judgment, bad taste, and many different shades of authoritarianism.

    Secondly, the attempt to make Michael Brown a martyr, or at least to make him seem less culpable, is counter productive since it makes the police more sympathetic. There are so many other incidents that deserve scrutiny. There's no credible witness defending Michael Brown's actions. There's no disputing that he grabbed Wilson's gun, and the autopsies have confirmed that none of the shots entered Brown from the rear (but have confirmed the opposite, that the entry wounds were on the front).

    Let this story die and find a better martyr.

  • IceTrey||

    There is forensic evidence that after being chased 175 feet he was only walking back towards Wilson when he was shot.

  • SIV||

    We get this shit instead of posts on all the libertarian moments Trump keeps proposing.

  • DanO.||

    Cry real hard, bra boy.

  • IceTrey||

    Everything prior to when Brown turned back towards Wilson after being chased 175 feet is irrelevent. The only relevant question is did Brown charge at Wilson "full speed" as he testified making him fear for his life. Wilson is a liar. From where Brown turned back towards Wilson he made it 21 feet. The audio of the shots lasts 3.5 seconds. That means Brown was moving at 4 mph or walking speed. There was no need for Wilson to stand his ground and kill Brown. He could have just backed up as Brown walked towards him. Wilson is a murderer for sure.

  • damikesc||

    wasn't Brown a bit of a massive fat fucker? Him moving at any clip is near miraculous and a thug and criminal got dropped, as he should've been.

    You're aware that apologists who WANTED to nail the cop to the wall said it was kosher, right? That the cop did the right thing and the world was spared a fat fucker criminal.

  • IceTrey||

    If Brown was not charging "full speed" why should he have been shot?

  • SIV||

    There's no "duty to retreat" for a non-cop. I'm not going to hold a cop to a different standard.

  • IceTrey||

    I didn't say there was. I said he could have because as I showed Brown was not charging him "full speed". Do you think cops should always shoot people just walking towards them?

  • damikesc||

    Yeah, they should shoot giant fat fucker criminals if they are approaching them without stopping as asked.

    Should giant fat fuckers be able to accost you if you can possibly run away?

  • damikesc||

    Yeah, they should shoot giant fat fucker criminals if they are approaching them without stopping as asked.

    Should giant fat fuckers be able to accost you if you can possibly run away?

  • IceTrey||

    How can they accost you if you can run away?

  • damikesc||

    Well, fat fuckers like the thsnkfully-room-temperature Brown generate a gravitational field.

    And why should anybody have to run away? The useless fat fucker is the criminal. You want to pursue me, then let's hope I'm not armed at that time.

  • Social Darwinist||

    Obviously the DOJ could have figured out Brown's speed at the time of the shooting like you did, so why didn't the DOJ charge Wilson with a violation of Brown's civil rights?

  • IceTrey||

    Would that be enough? Law enforcement protects their own? The Illuminati wanted to sow dissent? Who knows?

  • Night Elf Mohawk||

    That means Brown was moving at 4 mph or walking speed.

    Look, even presuming everything there to be true, a 15 minute mile is a brisk-ass walk. All the more so for a big, fat fuck. If you want to call it walking speed because that speed can be walked, have at it, but don't imply it's the speed of some casual stroll, that a fatass can do it without some effort, or that the effect of a very large man making an effort to move at that pace can't give the impression of speed. It's nice that you're able to discern that Wilson's seeing a 6'5" nearly 300 pound man coming at him at an aggressive pace, whether technically "full speed" or not, couldn't put him in fear for his life but that's just like your opinion, man.

    Whether there was a "need" to stand his ground and kill Brown wouldn't give any insight at all into whether it was murder, let alone murder for sure. The availability of alternatives, even presuming they exist, doesn't inherently make a chosen action murder.

    Even your skewed presentation of the issues at hand doesn't support your conclusion.

  • IceTrey||

    A 15 minute mile has nothing to do with anything. The slowest guys in the NFL run 15 mph. There's a very big difference between 15 and 4 mph. 21 feet is about 8 steps. That's barely enough distance to even get to "full speed". I've proven with irrefutable mathematics that Wilson lied. If you still want to suck his dick that's your problem.

  • aajax||

    Wow. I wouldn't put anything past the Ferguson police, though.

  • Boomer||

    Assuming the premise of the claim (that Brown was simply retrieving property he had traded for) is true, I see two troubling issues:

    First, The store owner was unwilling to allow Brown to leave with store merchandise he had not paid for, because he wasn't aware of the early morning transaction. The right thing for Brown to do isn't to threaten the store owner, it's to get him in contact with the employee who knew about the deal.

    Second, in an ideal world Brown could've sought recourse by involving the police or taking his case to court. Since weed is illegal, however, he had to handle it himself.

  • Real American||

    #Blackliesmatter

  • wef||

    "and left there for four and a half hours" - Always thought that the focus on the "four and a half hours" distills what underlies the emotional reaction to the incident.

    In short, what happened? Shop owner had already paid his protection money. New guy, fat and stupid, tried to muscle in. Protection racket enforcer enforced. The racket lieutenants left the bloody body displayed on the street as a warning. Neighborhood got outraged. Disproportionate punishment for trying to skim a little piece of the action. And an in-your-face display of the thuggish muscle's indifference to and contempt for the sensibilities of the local tribe.

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