Audio and video recordings of the Ferguson, Mo., shooting Aug. 9 -- when the white Police Officer Darren Wilson shot dead the black teenage Michael Brown -- were published by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch Friday. The recordings indicate the deadly encounter lasted less than 90 seconds. Their publication comes as a grand jury weighs whether to indict Wilson in the case.
Audio recordings in chronological order cited by the newspaper had a police dispatcher reporting a “stealing in progress” at the Ferguson Market at 11:53 a.m. local time (12:53 p.m. EDT). The dispatcher said the suspect was a black male in a white T-shirt, red Cardinals hat, yellow socks and khaki shorts, who was accompanied by another man. The dispatcher said the suspect had stolen a box of Swisher cigars.
Wilson responded to the call at noon, and he requested backup shortly thereafter, the Post-Dispatch reported.
Sources have informed the Post-Dispatch Wilson has told authorities that before the radio call he had stopped to tell Brown, 18, and his friend, Dorian Johnson, 22, to stop walking down the middle of the street. Subsequently, Wilson realized Brown matched the description of the suspect in the stealing call, the newspaper said.
According to Post-Dispatch sources, Wilson said Brown attacked him and that they struggled over the officer’s gun before Wilson fired twice, hitting Brown once. Wilson reportedly told authorities that he called, “Shots fired, send all cars,” on his radio, but that the unit was jarred during the struggle, causing the channel to be changed.
In any case, a Post-Dispatch was unable to locate the call during a review of radio calls made during the relevant period on all St. Louis County police channels, the fire channel used by Ferguson and other channels publicly archived online. However, at least one channel on the Ferguson police radio is “receive-only,” which leaves open the possibility the call may not have been broadcast, the newspaper reported.
After the call that may or may not have been, Wilson pursued Brown on foot. The Post-Dispatch sources reported that Wilson said Brown turned and charged, and that Wilson fired once, paused when Brown appeared to flinch, and then fired again a number of times. The police officer said he then radioed for an ambulance, the newspaper reported.
Meanwhile, the accounts of witnesses vary widely. For example, Johnson has said Wilson grabbed Brown by the throat, and later attempted to pull him into his police SUV. Johnson also has said Wilson’s fatal shot came after Brown turned around and was getting to the ground with his hands in the air. Other witnesses have said Brown stood still or walked, staggered, stumbled or fell toward Wilson before he was killed. Some have said Brown’s hands were up; others have said they were not.
The incident subsequently led to unrest in the St. Louis area, where demonstrators have protested the shooting of Brown. Among other groups, Amnesty International has characterized the police behavior in the case as abuse of human rights. A federal investigation of the case is under way. Meanwhile, Ferguson Police Chief Thomas Jackson said Friday that Wilson will return to service “immediately” should he not be indicted by the grand jury.