On Monday night, the Washington Redskins ran onto the field of play in their exhibition game with their hands up. The goal, according to safety Brandon Meriweather, was to “show our supporters what’s going on in St. Louis.” More specifically, Meriweather was referencing the supposed circumstances surrounding the shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown by Officer Darren Wilson; early witness reports stated that Brown had raised his hands before beings hot by Wilson.
The Redskins were hardly the only people parroting the “hands up” meme – that meme has now gone national, with protesters and rioters in Ferguson utilizing it, hundreds of students at Howard University throwing up their hands, and Harvard Law Professor Charles Ogletree suggesting that Officer Darren Wilson be arrested based on the “hands up” story.
There is only one problem: the “hands up” story comes from witnesses with significant flaws in their stories.
There were three witnesses who said that Brown was fleeing with his “hands up”: Dorian Johnson, Tiffany Mitchell, and Piaget Crenshaw. All three also had another element of their story in common: they said that Brown was shot from behind.
According to Dorian Johnson, Wilson pulled Brown and him over to the side of the road, where he then attempted to pull the 6’4″, 300 lb. Brown through the window of his patrol vehicle. Johnson stated, “The second time he says, ‘I’ll shoot,’ a second later the gun went off and he let go. That’s how we were able to run at the same time.” Johnson told USA Today that “the officer pursued Brown and fired another shot, which struck Brown in the back.”
Similarly, Mitchell stated that Wilson “was trying to pull him in” to the car. She added that after a shot went off, Brown ran. She then stated that after Brown ran perhaps 20 feet, “Michael jerks his body, as if he’s been hit.”
Crenshaw tells the same story: she says, “I saw the police chase him…down the street and shoot him down.” Both Crenshaw and Mitchell say that when Brown turned around, Wilson continued firing.
The autopsy released on Monday demonstrated that Brown was not in fact shot in the back. He had no wounds to the back whatsoever, despite Brown family attorney Daryl Parks allegedly lying in his press conference that it was “clear” that “the direction of the bullet was in a back-to-front direction.” That prompted Crenshaw to change her story on CNN regarding Brown being shot in the back.
And Dorian Johnson’s story was chock full of holes. It somehow neglected the fact that he and Brown allegedly participated in a strong-arm robbery of a convenience store shortly before they were pulled over by Officer Wilson. Johnson also said that after Brown was shot and “fell dramatically into the fatal position,” he was “hurt…I could see it in his eyes. It was definitely like being shot like an animal.” Dr. Michael Baden, who performed an autopsy for the family, stated clearly that Brown did not feel pain after he was shot in the head.
Dozens of witnesses have reportedly told another story, according to Christine Byers of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch: they say that Brown attacked Wilson through the window of his car, punched him, attempted to reach for Wilson’s gun, then ran. When Wilson shouted at them to freeze, Brown turned around and charged Wilson, prompting the shooting. According to one of the officer’s friends in a call to The Dana Loesch Show, the last shot hit Brown in the head, and the teenager fell “two or three feet in front of Wilson.”
Also, while the original witnesses reported by the media claimed that Wilson attacked Brown, sources have alleged that it was Wilson who suffered an “orbital blowout fracture to the eye socket” as a result of the encounter.
Despite the fact that the witnesses in the “hands up” narrative seem to contradict themselves, the media coverage has now made Dorian Johnson’s story the narrative known around the country. The perception that young black men are apt to be shot while surrendering to police has been reinforced – it has now made its way west, to Los Angeles, where protesters of Ezell Ford’s shooting are now falsely parroting the Dorian Johnson Ferguson narrative. Ford was shot by two police officers after an alleged scrum in which Ford supposedly reached for one of the officers’ gun; no witnesses reportedly allege that Ford held his hands up to surrender to police. Nonetheless, protester Nicole Tinson, a 23-year-old graduate student at Yale Divinity School, said, “It’s absolutely ridiculous. A man who holds his hands up is surrendering himself.”
The “hands up” story may be true; then again, it may be false. But it is true in the minds of millions of black people around the United States, thanks to a media eager for a race controversy – and it will remain the dominant story, no matter what the truth is.
Ben Shapiro is Senior Editor-At-Large of Breitbart News and author of the new book, The People vs. Barack Obama: The Criminal Case Against The Obama Administration (Threshold Editions, June 10, 2014). He is also Editor-in-Chief of TruthRevolt.org. Follow Ben Shapiro on Twitter @benshapiro.