A newly surfaced cell-phone video shows two witnesses reacting in real time to the fatal police shooting of Michael Brown. In the clip and in subsequent interviews with CNN, the witnesses say that the teenager was retreating with his hands up when officer Darren Wilson fired at him.
The two men, whose identities have not been revealed, were contractors standing an estimated 50 feet from the spot where Wilson shot Brown. The video was taken in the moments immediately following the shooting.
“He had his fucking hands up,” says one man in the video, raising his own hands above his head. “The cop didn’t say get on the ground. He just kept shooting.” He later told CNN that about 30 seconds elapsed between the first shot and subsequent ones.
The second man in the video told CNN that Brown was running from the cop with his hands up when the shots were fired.
These new accounts are broadly consistent with many previous eyewitness accounts of what happened on August 9 in Ferguson, Missouri, albeit with slight variations.
Here’s a review of the various accounts of what happened in the moments leading up the shooting:
What happened at the police car
Everyone seems to agree that the altercation that ended in the shooting began when Wilson pulled up in a police car as Brown and his friend, Dorian Johnson, were walking in the street. Johnson says Wilson tried to hurry them along, telling them to get on the sidewalk. According to Johnson’s account, the officer was rude and at one point tried to open his door to get out, but it “ricocheted both off me and Big Mike’s body and closed back on the officer.”
St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar says that Brown assaulted Wilson as the police officer tried to exit the vehicle, and that Wilson was later treated for facial injuries from the attack.
Christine Byers of the St. Louis Post Dispatch reported that local police told her they had a dozen witnesses who confirmed that Brown attacked Wilson. Josie, a local radio caller in St. Louis who claims to know Wilson’s story, said that a shot went off in the car when Brown tried to grab Wilson’s gun.
Eyewitnesses Tiffany Mitchell and Piaget Crenshaw, though, say they saw Brown trying to get away from the officer, pushing off from the police car. Johnson, the friend, also says that the officer grabbed Brown, and Brown was trying to get away when the officer fired. Johnson recalls Wilson threatening to shoot.
What happened during the shooting
According to Josie, the radio caller, Wilson ordered Brown and Johnson to freeze as the two ran away. According to her, Brown started taunting Wilson, and Wilson fired when the six-foot-four Brown began charging at him.
But Josie’s description of the events doesn’t square with what numerous eyewitnesses have reported.
Crenshaw, who was at the scene with her friend, Mitchell, told reporters that Brown was shot as he was running away from the officer.
A Twitter user who goes by the handle @TheePharoah appeared to have live-tweeted the shooting. He also wrote that “dude was running” when he was shot.
Another witness, Michael Brady, said that he didn’t see Brown’s hands up as he ran outside after the first shots, but instead saw him facing Wilson while clutching his abdomen, as if he were about to fall from the already-inflicted gunshots. Brady says the cop then fired off three or four more rounds.
Now the contractors found by CNN round out these stories. Michael Brown was hit by at least six bullets fired from Darren Wilson’s gun. Yet for all their inconsistencies, the one common thread from all the witness statements is that at that the time of his death, Brown was in retreat.