In Which Stealing Swisher Sweets Becomes a Capital Offense



Update: Via Thomas Crown in the comments, the Ferguson chief was clear that the officer who shot Michael Brown did not even know of this incident at the time of the shooting and it had nothing to do with the reason Michael Brown was stopped. Which means it is, of necessity, completely irrelevant to whether the officer reasonably believed that Brown posed a sufficient threat to justify the use of lethal force. Which raises the very obvious question: why did they release the information at all, other than playing blame-the-victim?




Despite saying for almost a full week that the altercation between Michael Brown and the police officer who shot him was the result of the officer telling Michael Brown to move out of the road, the Ferguson PD has decided to release a video of what they say is Michael Brown engaging in “strong arm robbery” of a convenience store. The truth, if you watch the video and read the shopkeeper’s report of the incident, is that Brown was shoplifting a pack of Swisher Sweets and got into a scuffle with a store clerk who caught him.

This is being presented by people who have a vested emotional interest in exonerating the police in this incident as evidence that Michael Brown was a “thug” and that therefore the officer who shot him was justified in doing so. This is absurdity of the highest order, and is no more compelling than the picture that has floated around the Internet over the last several days showing Brown holding money in his mouth and a gun in his hand while a buddy nearby is smoking what appears to be weed. Apparently the theory for some people is that that if you ever do dumb stuff as a teenager like smoke pot, shoplift, or pose for dumb pictures with your buddies, it is okay for the police to shoot you to death in the street.


Moreover, there is good reason to question all the details in a police report instead of assuming that they are the absolute truth. Why do I say that? No reason:

A missed email and an inaccurate police log helped keep an officer-involved shooting under wraps for more than two days this week, records obtained by | The Times-Picayune show.

* * *

Also to blame, however, was a misleading police log that described Officer Lisa Lewis as hearing shots fired about 1:20 a.m. while she happened to be in an Algiers neighborhood. It failed to mention that anyone had been shot, and that the gunfire she heard came from her own gun, according to Serpas.

Completely understandable how that information could have been omitted, really. Doesn’t really shed any additional light on the situation.

The police log the department sends daily to the news media is often the only way reporters find out about major crimes that happen during early-morning hours.

It’s unclear who wrote the inaccurate narrative, and the department is “working to get to the bottom” of how the truth was misconstrued, said city spokesman Tyler Gamble. Usually the investigating officer radios a gist to the NOPD’s command desk, which compiles the log, he said.

In other words, based on some level of familiarity with police reports of similar quality and accuracy particularly where details that might embarrass a cop are concerned, I am less than willing to put full faith in a police report that was issued a week after the incident in question and that contradicts the narrative that has been on offer from the police this entire time.


However, even if I did, nothing in them would suggest that the use of lethal force by the officer in question was justified in this circumstance. Lifting a pack of cigars that costs less than $5 does not constitute a capital offense in America and hasn’t in civilized society for several hundred years.

One other story that has been making the rounds but has not been confirmed (at least that I’ve seen) by a major news source is that the cop who shot Michael Brown is allegedly black himself. This is being presented as evidence in opposition to the point made by me yesterday and Erick today that black people, especially black males, get extra scrutiny from the cops, which is part of what leads to frustration and despair with the cops in general and in particular with the notion that cops should be trusted to investigate themselves. Of course, people who are familiar with logic know that it’s just as possible for a black cop to give extra scrutiny to a black teenager as it is for a white one. Anyone who doubts this proposition in even slightly need only look at how Glenn Greenwald obviously feels about Jews.

This particular exercise in gaslighting is shameful, both on the part of the Ferguson PD and on the part of those who are sucked in by it.



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