DOJ Reports Ferguson Witnesses Feared Speaking Up Against ‘Hands Up, Don’t Shoot’ Narrative

A new report from the Department of Justice says that the most credible witnesses of the Michael Brown shooting were unwilling to step forward to support Officer Darren Wilson’s actions. Six of the witnesses refused to counter the “Hands up, don’t shoot” narrative due to community pressure.

Many of the witnesses, who originally supported Wilson’s actions, later refused out of fear for their well-being. The witnesses cited signs posted around the community that read “Snitches Get Stitches.”

The report was full of instances where witnesses were too afraid to step forward to testify in favor of Wilson. One witness, Witness 102 (witnesses were referred to by number and not their names for fear of reprisal,) claimed that he left the scene of the crime because he felt threatened.

From the DOJ report:

Witness 102 did not stay on Canfield Drive long after the shooting, but rather started to leave the area after about five minutes because he felt uncomfortable. According to Witness 102, crowds of people had begun to gather, wrongly claiming the police shot Brown for no reason and that he had his hands up in surrender. Two black women approached Witness 102, mobile phones set to record, asking him to recount what he had witnessed. Witness 102 responded that they would not like what he had to say. The women responded with racial slurs, calling him names like “white motherfucker.”

Another instance in the report was of Witness 105, a 50-year-old African American woman who was driving through the community at the time of the shooting. She hesitantly stepped forward to testify to what she witnessed. She expressed that other witnesses were giving false reports:

“She explained that she was coming forward because in speaking with her neighbors, she realized that what they believed had happened was inconsistent with what actually happened.” Witness 105 said in the report.

The other witnesses felt too intimidated to testify to what they saw at the time of the shooting. For instance, subpoenaed witnesses 108 and 109 both said that they would go to jail before they would testify in Wilson’s favor.

The most important witnesses in case of Brown’s shooting all offer testimony that was consistent with the physical evidence. These six witnesses, though, have been too intimidated to contradict the narrative given by the community.


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