A new documentary claims that Michael Brown did not rob the Ferguson Market & Liquor convenience store on the day he fought with and was fatally shot by Ferguson, MO police officer Darren Wilson — claiming that earlier CCTV footage shows him exchanging drugs for merchandise.
The filmmaker suggests Brown first gave drugs to the store employees in exchange for cigarillos and sodas — which he left at the store to pick up later. Then, when Brown returned and took the merchandise, a clerk confronted him, and Brown shoved the employee out of his way so he could leave the store with the cigarillos he had apparently laid claim to with a marijuana barter.
Establishment journalists quickly spread the documentary’s claims. Reuters’ headline blared that the film “posed new questions” about the incident, which led to violent riots in 2014. CNN wondered if the video “could change the narrative” about the fatal Brown-Wilson altercation. NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt declared, “New Surveillance Video Casts Doubts on Michael Brown Case.”
In response to the news cycle, a lawyer representing the store presented more surveillance footage Monday afternoon, saying the documentary presents a misleading edit of the video. In a press conference, the lawyer called the filmmaker’s narrative “unfounded,” “baseless,” “preposterous,” “laughable,” and “nonsense.” He stated that the spread of this story led to more turmoil for the community and the store:
This has caused significant harm to this community again. Last night, at Ferguson Market, the protesters came back out. Police officers were engaged; police officers were hurt. Shots were fired at the market and at the police officers. My clients’ store was threatened to be burned to the ground — and all because some filmmaker badly edited, mis-edited a surveillance video so that he could get publicity for his documentary film.
The Associated Press writes that police similarly denied the film’s assertions:
Unedited early-hours store video footage of Michael Brown on the day he was fatally shot by a white police officer has been released by a lawyer for the store.
The lawyer for the Ferguson, Missouri, convenience store and a prosecutor who handled the case are disputing a new documentary’s claim that its footage proves Brown didn’t steal from the store before his August 2014 death.
St. Louis County prosecutor Robert McCulloch says the “Stranger Fruit” documentary footage was heavily edited from the original to distort what really happened.
The filmmakers allege Brown while inside Ferguson Market & Liquor in the early hours of Aug. 9, 2014, traded marijuana for cigarillos he was later accused of stealing. They claim he left the cigarillos behind and returned to retrieve them up later that day, just minutes before he was killed in a neighborhood nearby.
The full footage shows the 18-year-old Brown, who was black, about to leave with a bag containing a couple of drinks and two boxes of cigarillos. He talks to the store workers, then gives the bag to a clerk and leaves without it. [The store’s lawyer claims to the contrary that Brown took the bag out of the store]
The video shows the clerk return the boxes to the shelf, and another worker taking the drinks back to a cooler.
Watch the press conference below: