More than two years have elapsed since Michael Brown died in Ferguson, Missouri when he was shot at least six times by Officer Darren Wilson. The incident sparked widespread protests following a grand jury’s determination to not indict Wilson. Now, some new CCTV footage might shed more light on what happened before Brown encountered the cop.
The new video — which runs a few seconds longer than the older cut that was released in 2014 — suggests that Brown may not have robbed the convenience store as previously stated by police. Within the Stranger Fruit documentary that premiered at SXSW on Saturday, the additional footage reveals Brown approaching the register to drop a small bag on the counter before picking up a cigarillo-filled sack. The film’s director, Jason Pollock, believes that these additional seconds prove that Brown was engaging in a drug deal with store clerks:
Jason Pollock, a documentary filmmaker who acquired the new tape, says the footage challenges the police narrative that Mr. Brown committed a strong-armed robbery when he returned to the store around noon that day. Instead, Mr. Pollock believes that the new video shows Mr. Brown giving a small bag of marijuana to store employees and receiving cigarillos in return as part of a negotiated deal. Mr. Pollock said Mr. Brown left the cigarillos behind the counter for safekeeping.
“There was some type of exchange, for one thing, for another,” Lesley McSpadden, Mr. Brown’s mother, says in Mr. Pollock’s documentary, Stranger Fruit.
The New York Times spoke with attorney Jay Kanzler, who (on behalf of the store) argues that the new footage changes nothing:
But Jay Kanzler, a lawyer for the convenience store and its employees, strongly disputes that version of events, and said the new footage is unrelated to Mr. Brown’s later visit to the store.
“There was no transaction,” Mr. Kanzler said. “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.”
However, Pollock thinks that these extra seconds of footage were suppressed by police in order to only show the latter part of Brown’s store presence (in which he returns to the counter and picks up the same bag of cigarillos that clerks initially handed to him). Of course, this new clip doesn’t reveal exactly what happened when Brown met Officer Wilson on the street in an encounter that left the unarmed 18-year-old dead, but it does tweak the previously understood August 9, 2014 timeline of events.