A new, complicated chapter opens in Ferguson

Surveillance stills allegedly showing Michael Brown robbing a convenience store.

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Friday morning's revelation by Ferguson, Missouri, police Chief Thomas Jackson that Michael Brown was a suspect in a convenience store robbery hours before he was shot and killed by police officer Darren Wilson could change everything.

Or it changes nothing.

Shortly after Mr Wilson was identified as the officer involved in an apparent attempt to apprehend Mr Brown, the internet erupted in reaction - exposing a fault line in opinion that will be difficult to bridge.

First and foremost, however, comes the question of why it took so long for this new information to come out.

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This seems like an attempt to poison the well, not clarify anything”

End Quote Charles Johnson Little Green Footballs

"This by no means justifies what happened to Brown," writes Talking Points Memo's Josh Marshall. "But it seems to bring home in an entirely new way just how unprepared and frankly clueless the Ferguson police department is that they're only managing to mention this part of the story after days of war-zoning the city streets."

Ed Morrissey of Hot Air blog agrees: "If the Ferguson police had been more forthcoming about the incident up front, much of this week's drama might have been avoided, or at least somewhat mitigated."

For some, the information provided by the police is evidence of a rush to judgement on the part of protesters, activists and the media.

"Facts don't matter," tweets conservative columnist Ben Shapiro. "Media, pols report that every shooting by a white cop of a black unarmed suspect reflects generalised American racism."

"We still don't know what went down with cop and Michael Brown," he adds. "But we can say that the 'gentle giant' stuff seems over the top."

The Daily Caller's Jim Treacher tweets: "And yet another leftist narrative starts to unravel. But the important thing, for them, is to establish it in the first place."

Ferguson Police Chief Thomas Jackson reads his notes during a press conference. Ferguson police were unprepared and clueless, says Talking Points Memo's Josh Marshall

Others say the St Louis County police are only muddying the waters by releasing information that has no direct bearing on whether Mr Wilson was justified in shooting Brown.

"Ferguson police chief gave the officer a week to clean up his internet history, then released a report unrelated to the shooting," tweets Charles Johnson of the Little Green Footballs blog. "This seems like an attempt to poison the well, not clarify anything."

"Thanks for the pics of alleged convenience store shoplifting," tweets Salon's Mary Beth Williams. "Where are the ones of the cop shooting an unarmed man, again?"

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The Ferguson police and America are playing with fire if there is an attempt to justify the murder of Mike Brown”

End Quote Greg Carr Howard University

David Corn of Mother Jones tweets: "Bottom line: cops are supposed to use deadly force only when lives are at risk. You don't shoot robbery suspects."

Only that may not be the case according to Missouri law.

The Federalist's Sean Davis notes that the state's relevant statute allows law enforcement officers to use deadly force "when he reasonably believes that such use of deadly force is immediately necessary to effect the arrest and also reasonably believes that the person to be arrested … has committed or attempted to commit a felony."

If Mr Wilson reasonably believed Mr Brown committed a strong-armed robbery felony, which is alleged in this case, it could give the officer legal cover.

If such a charge for swiping a box of cigars and shoving a store clerk seems extreme, it's not without precedent. In 2007 another Missouri man faced robbery charges and up to 30 years in prison for stealing a 50-cent doughnut and shoving a store employee. (The story made national headlines, and the perpetrator ended up receiving a five-year suspended sentence and 90 days in jail.)

As if there was any question, the Ferguson case - and the controversy surrounding it - is far from over. And it may be starting a new, highly charged chapter.

"Let me be very clear," tweets Greg Carr, chairman of the Howard University Department of Afro American Studies. "The Ferguson police and America are playing with fire if there is an attempt to justify the murder of Mike Brown."


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  • rate this

    Comment number 106.

    All that we know for sure is that there was an altercation in/near a police car and Michael Brown was shot dead as a consequence; that a store owner was assaulted and robbed by a perp., alleged to be Michael Brown (from store surveillance video); and, that general rioting/looting in Ferguson resulted in a curfew being declared by the governor: http://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-28824157

  • rate this

    Comment number 105.

    Stealing cigars?: wrong; jerk in the middle of the street?: wrong; punching a cop?: wrong; according to three witnesses- cop shooting suspect twice while fleeing, then shooting him in the head after he dropped to the ground with his hands up? WRONG. Complicated?

    Looting?: wrong. And though wrong, it happens because those at the top and the bottom of the heap expect the system and no justice.

  • rate this

    Comment number 104.

    “For me there is a time when we have to turn the mirror around…Because it is almost analgesic to talk about what the white man is doing against us. And it keeps a person frozen in their seat, it keeps you frozen in your hole you're sitting in." - Bill Cosby, Ed.D, (discussing why African-Americans are unwilling to accept responsibility for their own behaviour and resulting consequences).

  • rate this

    Comment number 103.

    "...the state's...statute allows law enforcement officers to use deadly force 'when...immediately necessary to effect the arrest...'"

    A strange country, where they can shoot someone dead in order to arrest them.

  • rate this

    Comment number 102.

    The police will have a hard time explaining that:

    All the witnesses seem to agree Mr Brown was shot in the act of surrender

    The cctv film was not clear enough to tell more that the subject was a taller, obese, African american male. Not even sure it would stand in court


Comments 5 of 106


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