The Facts About Ferguson

With tensions high around the nation surrounding the issue of the Michael Brown shooting, it is important that all sides carry out their positions on the case with factual understanding. As a young journalist, I follow a myriad of news outlets on social media and try to keep up to date with press coverage from both sides of the story. For those who are not looking to “take sides” but rather interested in being an informed US citizen keeping up with national issues, what are the facts?

The Facts

On August 9, 2014, Michael Brown, an unarmed 18-year-old black man was fatally shot in Ferguson, Missouri by Darren Wilson, 28, a white police officer.

 

The Saint Louis County medical examiner’s autopsy report shows that Brown received 9 gunshot wounds: three wounds to the head, two to the chest, three to the right arm, and one to the inside of his right hand near his thumb and palm.

Though the details are disputed, both eyewitness’ and police agree that Brown and his friend Johnson, were walking along the street when officer Wilson confronted them and told them to get off of the street. Eyewitness accounts all agree that there was some sort of physical altercation between Brown and Wilson at the police car followed by Brown running from the officer. The officer shot at Brown as he ran and continued to shoot as Brown stopped, turned around and put his hands in the air.

According to Officer Wilson’s account, he cut the men off after they refused to get off of the street, he tried to open his door which Brown slammed on him and then punched him in the side of the face. Wilson grabbed Brown’s arm and pulled his gun, and he testifies that Brown tried to grabbed the gun so he fired two shots. Brown then turned to run away as Wilson shot a series of shots.

Editor's note: We do not mean to imply that Brown was shot in the back. All reports indicate that Wilson shot was Brown was facing him.

Eyewitnesses: Dorian Johnson, Piaget Crenshaw, and Tiffany Mitchell

Wilson in hospital following the incident.

On Monday, August 18, a few days after protests began in Ferguson surrounding the Michael Brown shooting, Missouri Governor Jay Nixon declared a state of emergency and called in the National Guard to assist local police agencies with controlling the protests. Officers deployed through the streets wear full body armor and gas masks, carry rifles and use MRAP armored vehicles originally designed to withstand explosions from land mines. For more than 100 days, protesters have remained on the ground, many facing tear gas, pepper spray and arrest.
 

Ferguson, Missouri is a majority-black town. According to the 2010 census, about 67 percent of residents are black and 29 percent are white. Out of the 53 commissioned officers in the Ferguson Police Department, only three are black, and the chief of police, Thomas Jackson, is also white. According to a racial profiling report from the Missouri Attorney General's office, of the 5,384 traffic stops made in Ferguson last year, 86 percent of them targeted black drivers. 21.7 percent of black people who were searched were found to be carrying contraband while searches of white people produced a contraband "hit" 34 percent of the time. 92.7 percent of all people arrested by the Ferguson police in 2013 were black, and 6.9 percent were white.

The grand jury ruling announced on Monday, November 24, ruled that evidence presented in the Michael Brown shooting did not warrant criminal charges against Officer Wilson. The grand jury that heard the evidence included one black man, two black women, six white men and three white women on the panel.