Black teen Mike Brown was gunned down by former police officer Darren Wilson, nearly three years ago. The shooting that occurred in Ferguson, Missouri has been called a tipping point on the issue of race and policing of Black communities. Previous video footage released by the police show Brown physically assaulting a store clerk and allegedly showed him stealing cigarillos. The incident caused police to respond to the area and Brown was shot, while witnesses stated he had his hands in the air.
When police released this video of Brown, many felt it was an attempt to demonize the recent high school graduate who had plans to attend college. The subsequent turmoil over the circumstances of his death led to days of unrest in the Ferguson and St. Louis areas as protestors took to the street. film that was premiered at the SXSW annual event titled
A film that was premiered at the SXSW annual event titled Stranger Fruit has many people revisiting the circumstances of the shooting. It turns out that in the early morning hours of 1:00 am, Brown was at the Ferguson Market and Liquor store at least 12 hours before he was killed. The security video shows Brown putting a small bag of suspected marijuana on the counter in front of three store clerks. The clerks pass around the bag, smell it and then give Brown two cartons of cigarillos, placing them in a plastic bag with no exchange of money. Brown seems to say something to the clerks and they put the bags on the floor behind the counter. Around noon, Brown returns to the store and calmly waits to be served by a different clerk.
The filmmaker, Jason Pollock, implies that the clerk on duty did not know about the deal and refuses to give Brown his cigars. This video was known to exist by police but it was never released. The police felt it was unrelated to the shooting by Wilson. County police spokesman Sergeant Shawn McGuire stated to media outlet Dailymail, “The incident is still irrelevant to our investigation because our department investigated the encounter between Michael brown and Darren Wilson.”
However, family members have stated it sheds new light on the relationship between Brown and the store. Brown’s mother Lesley McSpadden states in the documentary, “I was surprised to hear that two years later, there was a video. What you’re going to see on this video is what they didn’t show us happened, that clarifies that there was an understanding. There was some type of exchange, for one thing, for another.”
Lawyers for the convenience store and its employees stated to media, “There was no transaction, there was no understanding. No agreement. Those folks didn’t sell him cigarillos for pot. The reason he gave it back is he was walking out the door with unpaid merchandise and they wanted it back.”
There is a pending lawsuit that will be heard this year against Officer Wilson, the city of Ferguson and the former Ferguson police chief.