News and Commentary

Washington Post Shreds Democrats’ Claim That Mike Brown Was ‘Murdered’
Side-by-side photographs of Democratic presidential candidates Sen. Kamala Harris (CA) and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (MA).
Eva Hambach/AFP, Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

On Friday, the fifth anniversary of the death of Michael Brown, Democratic presidential candidates Sens. Kamala Harris (CA) and Elizabeth Warren (MA) promoted the Department of Justice-debunked narrative that Michael Brown was “murdered” by white police officer Darren Wilson.

Most mainstream media outlets failed to correct the Democrats — a trend that didn’t go unnoticed by many conservative pundits, including Rush Limbaugh — but early Tuesday morning, The Washington Post published a much-welcome fact-check on the candidates’ statements. In his analysis, fact-checker Glenn Kessler determined that both Harris and Warren deserved the Post’s worst rating: Four Pinocchios, which it defines as a full-fledged “whopper.”

On the anniversary of Brown’s death Friday, Harris tweeted: “Michael Brown’s murder forever changed Ferguson and America. His tragic death sparked a desperately needed conversation and a nationwide movement. We must fight for stronger accountability and racial equity in our justice system.”

Warren posted an even more inflammatory tweet: “5 years ago Michael Brown was murdered by a white police officer in Ferguson, Missouri. Michael was unarmed yet he was shot 6 times. I stand with activists and organizers who continue the fight for justice for Michael. We must confront systemic racism and police violence head on.”

In his fact-check of the claims, Kessler doesn’t hold back on the two senators, asserting that while there might be legimate questions about how many shots Wilson fired or whether he acted appropriately in the situation, the Obama Justice Department’s exhaustive investigation leaves no room for doubt: Brown was not “murdered” by any standard definition of the word, and the two senators’ insistence on claiming so is outright “galling.”

“Harris and Warren have ignored the findings of the Justice Department to accuse Wilson of murder, even though the Justice Department found no credible evidence to support that claim,” Kessler writes. “Instead, the Justice Department found that the popular narrative was wrong, according to witnesses deemed to be credible, some of whom testified reluctantly because of fear of reprisal. The department produced a comprehensive report to determine what happened, making the senators’ dismissal of it even more galling. Harris and Warren both earn Four Pinocchios.”

The Obama admininstration’s 86-page investigative report, Kessler explains, was based on 40 witness testimonies and a thorough review of all forensic evidence. It concluded that “there is no credible evidence that Wilson willfully shot Brown as he was attempting to surrender or was otherwise not posing a threat.”

The Justice Department published on the same day a report on its parallel investigation finding that there was “systemic exploitation and racial profiling of black residents in Ferguson” by the department, Kessler notes. “Harris and Warren, who are both seeking the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, appear to accept the results of one report and not the other.”

Kessler goes on to summarize the findings of the Obama DOJ’s Brown report that shreds the “Hands up, don’t shoot!” and “gentle giant” narratives pushed by many on the Left and promoted years after being debunked by Harris and Warren:

There is little dispute about how the tragedy started. In midday, Brown and his friend, Dorian Johnson, went to Ferguson Market & Liquor. Brown, who was 6 feet 4 inches tall and weighed 290 pounds, reached across the counter, seized packages of cigarillos and shoved the clerk, who notified police.

Wilson initially encountered the pair when they were walking in the middle of the street, and he told them to get on the sidewalk. He then realized they were suspects in the robbery he had heard on the police radio and backed his vehicle, an SUV, to stop them from walking any farther. Brown then reached through the open driver’s window and punched and grabbed Wilson, according to the report.

To summarize what took place after Brown attacked Wilson through the police cruiser window, Kessler provides quotes from the report from the sworn testimonies of the numerous witnesses to the tragic shooting, many of whom, he notes, were reluctant to tell authorities the truth for fear of backlash among those who pushed the racially charged “murdered” narrative. A few excerpts:

Witness 102, a 27-year-old biracial man: “Brown was ‘wrestling’ through the window, but he was unable to see what Wilson was doing. After a few seconds, Witness 102 heard a gunshot. … Witness 102 thought that he had just witnessed the murder of a police officer because a few seconds passed before Wilson emerged from the SUV.”

(Brown had tried to grab Wilson’s gun but ended up getting shot in one of his hands, the report said: “Autopsy results and bullet trajectory, skin from Brown’s palm on the outside of the SUV door as well as Brown’s DNA on the inside of the driver’s door corroborate Wilson’s account that during the struggle, Brown used his right hand to grab and attempt to control Wilson’s gun.”)

Witness 103, a 58-year-old black man: The witness “saw Brown punching Wilson at least three times in the facial area, through the open driver’s window of the SUV. Witness 103 described Wilson and Brown as having hold of each other’s shirts, but Brown was ‘getting in a couple of blows.’ Wilson was leaning back toward the passenger seat with his forearm up, in an effort to block the blows. Then Witness 103 heard a gunshot and Brown took off running.”

Witness 102: “Wilson then chased Brown with his gun drawn, but not pointed at Brown, until Brown abruptly turned around at a nearby driveway. Witness 102 explained that it made no sense to him why Brown turned around. Brown did not get on the ground or put his hands up in surrender. … Brown made some type of movement similar to pulling his pants up or a shoulder shrug, and then ‘charged’ at Wilson.”