Ezra Klein says there is one moment in particular in Officer Wilson’s account that doesn’t ring true. Klein writes, “Every bullshit detector in me went off when I read that passage.”
What is the passage that didn’t ring true for Klein? It’s the moment when, in the midst of a scuffle between Brown and Wilson, Brown turns and puts the stolen cigarillos into his friend’s hands. Here’s Officer Wilson’s account:
I was doing the, just scrambling, trying to get his arms out of my faceand him from grabbing me and everything else. He turned to his…if he’sat my vehicle, he turned to his left and handed the first subject. Hesaid, “here, take these.” He was holding a pack of — several packs ofcigarillos which was just, what was stolen from the Market Store wasseveral packs of cigarillos. He said, “here, hold these” and when he didthat I grabbed his right arm trying just to control something at thatpoint. Um, as I was holding it, and he came around, he came around withhis arm extended, fist made, and went like that straight at my face withhis…a full swing from his left hand.
And here’s Klein’s reaction to this moment:
So Brown is punching inside the car. Wilson is scrambling to deflectthe blows, to protect his face, to regain control of the situation. Andthen Brown stops, turns to his left, says to his friend, “Here, holdthese,” and hands him the cigarillos stolen from Ferguson Market. Then he turns back to Wilson and, with his left hand now freed from holding the contraband goods, throws a haymaker at Wilson.
Every bullshit detector in me went off when I read that passage.Which doesn’t mean that it didn’t happen exactly the way Wilsondescribes. But it is, again, hard to imagine. Brown, an 18-year-old kidholding stolen goods, decides to attack a cop and, while attacking him,stops, hands his stolen goods to his friend, and then returns to thebeatdown. It reads less like something a human would do and more like amoment meant to connect Brown to the robbery.
So, according to Klein this is simply not something a human would do. Just one problem with that take. According to Mike Brown’s friend, Dorian Johnson, it really happened. From pages 52 and 53 of Dorian Johnson’s grand jury testimony:
Q: Okay. And so please tell us what happened.
A: While the officer is grabbing ahold of Big Mike, he kind loses grip around his neck, that’s how I knew he had a good grip. He never fully let Big Mike go, now he has a good grasp on his shirt. So now Big Mike’s able to turn different angles while he is trying to pull away.
And at a point he turned, now we are face-to-face, and he put his hands like, grab these, Bro. And in shock, I’m so no unconsciously, my hands open to where he could put the rillos in my hand, but I’m still standing in the same spot. I never said anything any more, I’m just standing in shock. I’m this close, I’m standing right here.
I almost feel like someone needs to come out and say something to either one of them to calm somebody down.
At the time, I couldn’t open my mouth, I couldn’t speak. I wanted to say could someone calm down. I could not speak at the time and the Cigarillos were placed in my hand.
At the time, he turned back around, facing the officer now, and now he can get a good grip on the car.
A Twitter user called @nycsouthpaw highlighted this passage.
Of course there remain some significant differences in the two accounts. According to Officer Wilson he is defending himself from Brown who is punching him through the open car window and then struggling for his gun. According to Brown’s friend Dorian Johnson, Brown’s hands were never inside the car.
That said, the key moment which Klein found so unbelievable, that Brown handed the Cigarillos to his friend in the midst of a scuffle with the police, is something both Johnson and Wilson agree happened.