[Continuing our series on deception in politics and policy.]
President Obama, Attorney General Eric Holder, and their political allies (including racist, anti-Semitic preacher Al Sharpton) spent seven months trying to frame an innocent police officer for the execution-style killing of a young man, Michael Brown, in Ferguson, Missouri.
Now, even the Obama/Holder Justice Department has been obliged to admit the innocence of then-Officer Darren Wilson.
If you’re waiting for Obama and Holder to be held accountable, or even to apologize, don’t hold your breath.
The Justice Department report makes clear that there is literally no chance that Brown was holding up his hands in surrender; Officer Wilson’s account is verified in every significant detail, by witnesses in the community where the shooting took place. Yet President Obama continues to suggest that Wilson might have done it, after all.
Explaining the decision not to prosecute Wilson, Obama said, “We may never know exactly what happened, but Officer Wilson, like anybody else who is charged with a crime, benefits from due process and a reasonable doubt standard,” the President said while speaking at a college in South Carolina. “And if there is uncertainty about what happened, then you can’t just charge him anyway just because what happened was tragic.” The Sharptonites complained about the high standard for proof of guilt when the local grand jury declined to indict Wilson—failed to indict him, they said pointedly—and the President, after his own administration cleared Wilson, suggested that the officer got off on a legal technicality.
This is part of a pattern on the Left. The Justice Department now requires that colleges follow rules that make it easier to falsely convict and punish students who are accused of sex-related offenses. Mr. Holder has suggested that there should be a loosening of the requirement for proof in cases of possible civil-rights violations. An ally of the President, Global Warming activist Naomi Oreskes, recently suggested that the process of scientific proof be adjusted to make it easier to prove things like Global Warming theory. When truth gets in the way, change the standard by which truth is determined.
The President and his media allies also engaged in classic misdirection, pointing to a Justice Department report that supposedly shows Ferguson officials sending racist e-mails and running a “speed trap” racket in which they wrote traffic tickets in order to raise revenue. I’ll deal with the report in a future column, but, in any event, it’s absolutely irrelevant to the attempt to frame Officer Wilson for an execution-style murder.
In the immediate aftermath of the Ferguson shooting, the Justice Department counseled local residents in racist “White Privilege” theory and helped organize protests in Ferguson, the department pressured local officials to endanger the innocent officer’s life by releasing his name (after which, the media revealed the location of his house), and the department tried to block the release of the video showing Brown robbing the convenience store and roughing up the Indian-American clerk half his size. (It was a tape that was critical to Wilson’s defense. It showed Brown, who we now know was heavily drugged, engaging in the same irrational, menacing behavior that he would display a few minutes later when confronting Wilson.)
Speaking to the United Nations, the President put forth the Ferguson affair as an example of what’s wrong with America, lest anyone think that he had failed to notice America’s shortcomings. Al Sharpton himself came to the White House to discuss the controversy, and appeared in photographs in which he was sitting across the table from the President and next to the Vice President. Sharpton was called a White House “point person” on issues of so-called race, and led and inspired demonstrations in which protesters demanded the prosecution of Wilson and rioters looted and burned down businesses, including businesses owned by African-Americans and Indian-Americans.
The President and the Attorney General gave legitimacy to a political movement—members of which call themselves the “‘Hands up! Don’t shoot!’ movement” or some variation thereof—that made its way into the nation’s culture. The “Hands up! Don’t shoot!” gesture was everywhere, it seemed, at an NFL game as players came on the field, a Democratic Party gathering in Alexandria, Virginia, a rally by congressmembers and staffers on the steps of Capitol Hill. “Hands up! Don’t shoot!” was everywhere from the cover of Time magazine to the Grammys (two musical numbers in which people held up their hands in mock-surrender) to the Academy Awards, where an Oscar went to a song declaring that
[R]esistance is us / That’s why Rosa sat on the bus / That’s why we walk through Ferguson with our hands up
Two officers in New York were shot and killed as a direct result of the “Hands up! Don’t shoot!” hoax, and two officers in Ferguson were shot last week but survived. The news media mostly dropped the latter story after one of the Ferguson protesters was identified as the alleged shooter.
As regular readers of this column are aware, the basic facts of the Ferguson shooting have been clear for some seven months. Michael Brown didn’t hold up his hands in surrender. Brown attacked a police officer who was much smaller than himself, struggled with the officer over his gun, and was charging the officer with what appeared to be murderous intent when the officer shot and killed him.
The idea that Brown attempted to surrender, and was executed on the spot by the policeman, was apparently concocted by Dorian Johnson, Brown’s accomplice in a convenience store robbery that had taken place some seven minutes before. (Johnson claims that he didn’t know Brown was going to rob the store, but admits accompanying him to the store to get blunts—cigars or cigarillos in which the tobacco is to be replaced with marijuana—and remaining with Brown as he stole some cigarillos and assaulted the clerk, and as they walked toward their encounter with the officer.)
During or after the shooting, Johnson fled the scene. There’s doubt as to whether he even stuck around for the fatal shots. Until he saw media reports noting that Brown was killed with a shot to the head, Johnson insisted that the fatal shot was to the chest. Johnson returned to the scene after going home to change his shirt so the police wouldn’t recognize him as Brown’s cohort. He left again, but returned after conferring with the Brown family. While at the scene, he gave interviews to the news media in which he was presented as a disinterested witness. Standing with Johnson during at least some of the interviews was a local activist affiliated with the racist Black Panthers. (Johnson has been well-staffed through the affair. Later, when he was interviewed by investigators, he was accompanied by his mother, two attorneys, and a person who said he was in charge of Johnson’s personal security.)
Johnson’s version spread by the grapevine through the community, growing slightly more elaborate as it passed from one person to the next.
Johnson, it should be noted, has served jail time for lying to the police.
Now, you may be wondering how I knew last August that the “Hands up! Don’t shoot!” gesture was part of a hoax.
Here’s how: I went through dozens of media accounts that included interviews with witnesses and purported witnesses. As I was trained as a journalist and in law school, I divided the accounts into those that were consistent with the physical/forensic evidence, that were internally consistent (i.e., that were from purported witnesses who didn’t contradict themselves), and that were consistent with the accounts of other credible witnesses.
Eliminating the non-credible accounts left me with one account after another that exculpated Officer Wilson.
It was the kind of thing that any observer could have done. In fact, every journalist who covered the story had a responsibility to do just that.
After the grand jury report became available, even the left-wing, government-funded National Public Radio came close to doing what I did. NPR, on its website, displayed a chart at the beginning of December that showed how the witnesses’ stories lined up on various questions. NPR didn’t point this out—that would, I suppose, be too much to ask—but the chart showed that witnesses whose stories matched the physical evidence agreed with Officer Wilson about the significant aspects of the case.
This sort of analysis is precisely what the justice Department did in its final report: separate witnesses into two stacks, those whose accounts matched the physical evidence and those whose stories didn’t match; into those whose stories were consistent with their own earlier accounts and those whose stories weren’t; and into those whose stories were consistent with accounts of other credible witnesses and those whose stories weren’t.
Among the witnesses who saw a significant segment of the confrontation between Brown and Wilson, a few met those criteria (that their statements were consistent with the physical evidence, consistent with their own earlier accounts, and consistent with other credible witnesses).
Eight of those witnesses corroborated the account of Officer Wilson.
The deathblow to the credibility of the “Hands up! Don’t shoot!” crowd, and to all those who supported the effort to frame Officer Wilson, appears on page 36 of the report:
[section] ii. Witnesses Consistent with Prior Statements, Physical Evidence, and Other Witnesses Who Inculpate Wilson
There are no witnesses who fall under this category.
You read that right: “There are no witnesses who fall under this category.”
The Obama/Holder/Sharpton crowd will insist that Darren Wilson got off because of the vagaries of a legal system that sets a high bar—a bar too high—to the prosecution of people like him. Just because you can’t prove it doesn’t mean he didn’t do it, they’ll say. Just because he’s not technically guilty doesn’t mean he’s innocent, they’ll say.
Evidence doesn’t lie. Ideologues often do.