A prosecutor released hundreds of pages of additional documents Saturday from the investigation into the police shooting of Michael Brown, including an interview transcript of a friend who initially asserted that he had seen Brown get shot in the back.
St. Louis County Prosecutor Robert McCulloch said the newly released records were inadvertently excluded from the thousands of pages of other documents made public Nov. 24, when a grand jury decided not to charge Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson for killing Brown.
The freshly publicized documents include a transcript of an interview of Brown’s friend Dorian Johnson conducted by the FBI and county police just four days after the Aug. 9 confrontation in which the white officer shot the black 18-year-old. Previously released forensic evidence showed that Brown was not shot in the back but was struck by bullets in the head, chest and arm.
Johnson’s account to investigators was generally similar to his later grand jury testimony, in which he portrayed Wilson as the aggressor during a struggle that began at the officer’s vehicle and led to a brief chase before Brown’s fatal shooting.
In both his original interview and his Sept. 10 grand jury testimony, which was previously released, Johnson said that Wilson reached out of his vehicle window toward Brown’s throat or shirt. During the ensuring struggle, Johnson said he never saw Brown touch Wilson’s gun.
Wilson told grand jurors that Brown grabbed ahold of his weapon and twisted it toward the officer’s leg. The officer eventually fired his gun from inside the vehicle. Forensic evidence showed that Brown’s hand was shot at close range. Brown and Johnson then ran.
In his August interview, Johnson initially was adamant that he had seen Johnson get shot in the back while running.
“It definitely struck him in his back,” Johnson said, later adding: “It caused him to stop.”
Asked by a detective how he knew Brown had been shot in the back, Johnson replied: “If it would’ve missed him, or if he wouldn’t have felt it, I believe he would’ve kept runnin.”
Under further questioning, Johnson later acknowledged that he didn’t see a bullet hit Brown’s back, but he remained adamant that Brown’s back was toward Wilson when he fired a shot.
By almost all witness accounts, Brown turned at some point to face the officer.
Johnson described Brown’s hands as being raised, one higher than the other. Wilson told grand jurors that one of Brown’s hands was clenched in a fist and the other at his waist as Brown began charging back at Wilson.
As with the previously released grand jury documents, the witness transcripts released Saturday varied in their accounts of Brown’s hands. One witness said Brown’s “hands kinda went up.” Another said Brown’s hands were up briefly but he then ran toward Wilson. Another said Brown threw up his hands and said something that sounded like, “Don’t kill me.”
Among the documents released Saturday was a witness list, with all of the names of the witnesses whited out. It shows that 62 people testified before the grand jury between Aug. 20 and Nov. 21, including some who appeared multiple times. Some of the people interviewed by federal authorities did not testify before the grand jury.
McCulloch apologized in a written statement for any confusion that may have occurred by failing to initially release all of the interview transcripts. He said he believes he has now released all of the grand jury evidence, except for photos of Brown’s body and anything that could lead to witnesses being identified.
Lieb reported from Jefferson City, Missouri. Associated Press reporters Shawn Chen in Kansas City, Missouri; Jeff McMurray in Chicago; and Greg Moore in Phoenix contributed to this report.
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