Jason Pollock, the director of a new documentary film called Stranger Fruit, has released a damning surveillance video from the night before Michael Brown was shot and killed by Officer Darren Wilson.
For more than two years, surveillance tape showing Brown allegedly strong-arm robbing a store clerk for cigarillos has stood as evidence that the teen engaged in criminal activity prior to his encounter with Officer Wilson.
Now the narrative has changed, thanks to Pollock's new footage:
The new surveillance video shows Michael Brown entering the convenience store at approximately 1 a.m. on the day of his death, and handing a small bag to some employees. The employees appear to smell the bag and hand it around. In exchange, Brown is given two boxes of cigarillos. As Brown is leaving, he turns around, and hands the cigarillos back to the clerks to allegedly store behind the counter.
According to Pollock, the bag likely contained marijuana, and the exchange was a prearranged drug deal.
The video shown repeatedly in the news – the video with which everyone is familiar – was actually filmed the next morning at 11:50 a.m.
Brown approaches the counter, apparently seeking the cigarillos. When the clerk (who likely wasn't there the night before) doesn't give him the smokes for which he allegedly exchanged the marijuana, he grabs some cigars instead. When confronted at the store's entrance, Brown shoves the clerk and intimidates him with his massive frame:
Jason Pollock's attempt to paint the alleged strong-arm robbery as a legitimate mistake fails on multiple accounts. First, if Pollock is correct, Brown was involved in a drug deal – an illegal act. Second, when he didn't get what he wanted the next day, Brown stole cigars and assaulted a clerk.
Either way, Brown assaulted an innocent man. Moreover, the video evidence simply alters the crime in question. Brown allegedly dealt drugs in exchange for goods that weren't the clerk's to give, then stole cigars and assaulted the man who wouldn't hand over the ill-gotten cigarillos.
Not the best defense.
Jay Kanzler, the attorney representing the store and the clerks, denies such a transaction took place: "There was no transaction ... There was no understanding. No agreement. Those folks didn’t sell him cigarillos for pot. The reason he gave it back is he was walking out the door with unpaid merchandise and they wanted it back."