US & Canada

Prosecutor dismisses new Ferguson video

Michael Brown Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Michael Brown visited the shop hours before his death in a failed 'attempt to barter', the Ferguson prosecutor claims

City officials in Ferguson are hitting back against a filmmaker's claim that Michael Brown did not rob a shop in the hours before his death.

The unarmed Missouri teenager was killed by police minutes after he left the shop.

Prosecutor Robert McCulloch attacked the CCTV footage released in the new documentary as a "pretty pathetic attempt at a video production".

He released five videos himself that show more of the alleged exchange.

Mr McCulloch said the newly released series of videos proves that the documentary had been edited in a "clear attempt to distort this and turn it into something it isn't".

Brown was killed by a police officer in a confrontation that happened shortly after he left the shop, in August 2014.

Policeman Darren Wilson stopped him because he was walking in the middle of the road, not because he was suspected of robbing a shop.

Mr Wilson was cleared of wrongdoing but the fatal shooting sparked months of unrest, and a national debate about police use of force.

Footage released by police shortly after his death showed him appearing to assault the shopkeeper and stealing cigars.

That version of events has been challenged this week by filmmaker Jason Pollock.


What the filmmaker claims happened:

  • Brown went into shop at 01:00, offered to barter marijuana for cigars
  • He left his marijuana with the staff, who kept the cigars for him behind the counter
  • He returned the next day and took the cigars, having already paid for them by this exchange

What the prosecutor says happened:

  • Brown went into shop at 01:00, offered to exchange marijuana for cigars
  • Staff said no, so Brown took the marijuana with him, left the cigars behind
  • The cigars were returned to the shelf
  • He returned the next day and stole the cigars, shoving the shopkeeper on his way out

The new film, Stranger Fruit, claims that Michael Brown had traded cannabis for cigars, and that he had returned to the shop hours later to claim them.

As part of the documentary, Mr Pollock used surveillance footage from inside the shop, which he said proved that an exchange with shopkeepers had taken place around 01:15 the night before Brown's death.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Prosecutors released more footage from the night to prove that the trade was never completed

The videos show Brown handing a small bag to employees, which they then smell.

Mr McCulloch says the video released by his office shows that "there certainly was an attempt to barter for these goods", but argued that the shop employees never took the deal.

"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," he added.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Police cleared the car park of protesters on Sunday night
Image copyright Other - Facebook
Image caption Michael Brown had recently graduated from high school

A lawyer for the shop also slammed the film, saying Mr Pollock had created a "wild story" that had opened up old wounds.

Protesters stood outside the shop on Monday, discouraging shoppers from going inside.

The night before, when news first emerged of the new footage casting doubt on police statements, nearly 100 people protested in the car park.

Police cleared those protesters and arrested two people for committing acts of violence against officers.

Ferguson Police Chief Delrish Moss says the city was preparing for more potential unrest.

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