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Was the story about Mike Brown’s blood in Darren Wilson’s vehicle selectively leaked

Cross posted from the Frederick Leatherman Law Blog

Monday, October 20, 2014

Good morning:

Questions surfaced yesterday regarding the sources of the New York Times article on Saturday that has been used to portray Mike Brown as the aggressor in his encounter with Officer Darren Wilson of the Ferguson Police Department. I wrote about the article, Michael Brown’s blood found on officer’s gun, uniform and interior panel of driver’s door.

I suspect the tip about Mike Brown’s blood may be true, however, I think it is a good example of selective leaking motivated by a desire to portray Mike Brown as the aggressor and discredit Dorian Johnson’s statement about the shooting. Johnson was with Brown when the encounter with the officer occurred. The sources want people to believe that Mike Brown was going for the officer’s gun.

As I pointed out yesterday, however, even if this information is true, it is consistent with Dorian Johnson’s statement that Wilson grabbed Mike Brown’s arm through the open window, pulled him to pin him against the door, drew his gun and shot him in the arm during the ensuing struggle.

Not only is the forensic evidence consistent with Dorian Johnson’s statement, it does not address the fundamental issue in the case; namely, did Darren Wilson shoot and kill Mike Brown after he stopped fleeing, turned around and raised his hands in the universally understood gesture of surrender?

Nevertheless, that did not stop the right-wing-message-machine from claiming that the forensic evidence proves Mike Brown was the aggressor and exculpates Darren Wilson.

The sources of information referenced in the article are not identified, except for this statement in the first paragraph, “according to government officials briefed on the federal civil rights investigation into the matter.”

The second paragraph refers to “forensic tests conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.”

The eighth paragraph states that, “the account of Officer Wilson’s version of events did not come from the Ferguson Police Department or from officials whose activities are being investigated as part of the civil rights inquiry.”

Sometimes, you have to look at what is not said in order to discern the truth.

What was not said is whether the unnamed officials may be biased by virtue of relationship or continued employment by the “officials whose activities are being investigated as part of the civil rights inquiry.”

Given the absence of awareness that the forensic evidence is consistent with Dorian Johnson’s statement, I think we are seeing an example of selective leaking motivated by a desire to influence public opinion by portraying Darren Wilson as the victim.

I suspect the leak was planned and is a good example of what the grand jury is being told and how it will be manipulated to conclude that Darren Wilson should not be charged with a crime.

No indictment would be a crime because none of the eyewitness statements can be reasonably interpreted to support a conclusion that Officer Darren Wilson was in imminent danger of death or serious injury when he fired the fatal shots.

We continue to wait for justice in Ferguson and we are losing patience.

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Frederick Leatherman

Frederick Leatherman

I am a former law professor and felony criminal defense lawyer who practiced in state and federal courts for 30 years specializing in death penalty cases, forensics, and drug cases.

I taught criminal law, criminal procedure, law and forensics, and trial advocacy for three years after retiring from my law practice.

I also co-founded Innocence Project Northwest (IPNW) at the University of Washington School of Law in Seattle and recruited 40 lawyers who agreed to work pro bono, assisted by law students, representing 17 innocent men and women wrongfully convicted of sexually abusing their children in the notorious Wenatchee Sex Ring witch-hunt prosecutions during the mid 90s. All 17 were freed from imprisonment.

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