From the moment Officer Darren Wilson first encountered Michael Brown Jr. on Aug. 9 until the time the fatal shots were fired at the unarmed teen may have been a matter of minutes – even seconds – according to audio and video footage newly obtained by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
The police records, first obtained by the Post-Dispatch through Missouri’s Sunshine law, plot out the events leading up to Brown’s death, including reports relayed by the dispatcher of a robbery in action.
Put together, the records show that Wilson called for back-up from nearby squad cars before his altercation with Brown, leaving less than two minutes between the time the police dispatcher acknowledged that Wilson had first spotted the teen and when more officers came to Wilson’s aid.
EMS records begin when Wilson was called to respond to a two-month-old suffering from breathing problems. During that time, a dispatcher called in a “stealing in progress” at the nearby Ferguson Market, where the suspect was described as a black man wearing a white T-shirt, having just stolen a box of Swisher cigars, the Post-Dispatch reports.
The alleged robbery is likely the same incident raised by Ferguson police in August when they released the name of Brown’s shooter along with surveillance video of what they said may be Brown robbing a convenience store shortly before his death.
At the time police released the surveillance video, Ferguson Police Chief Thomas Jackson first suggested that Wilson’s initial encounter with Brown had nothing to do with the alleged robbery. Later that same day, Jackson backtracked, saying the first contact was made once Wilson “saw cigars in Brown’s hand and realized he might be the robber.”
Attorneys representing Brown’s family on Saturday criticized the Ferguson Police department’s handling of the case.
“From the very beginning, the Ferguson Police Department has followed what is now seemingly standard operating procedure for police departments around the country: to vilify the victim and put the shooter on a pedestal,” attorneys Benjamin Crump, Anthony Gray and Daryl Parks said in a statement.
The newly obtained police calls show that Wilson became aware of the alleged robbery once he finished attending to the sick baby — according to the Post-Dispatch, Wilson called in and offered to help the officers track down the two suspects. Two minutes later, after his fellow officers called in to say the suspects had disappeared, Wilson called in his location, and asked for back-up.
“Put me on Canfield with two. Send me another car,” Wilson said, according to the Post-Dispatch.
From there, conflicting accounts between what the police describe and what eyewitnesses say they saw put together a murky timeline of the events leading up to Brown’s death. Most agree Wilson and Brown engaged in a physical struggle through the window of the officer’s SUV. According to police, Wilson said the teen tried to grab for Wilson’s gun when Wilson fired the first two shots, hitting Brown once.
Brown then fled from the vehicle, and then, according to six eyewitnesses, Brown turned and put his hands in the air to surrender when Wilson fired off multiple shots.
According to the paper, just 42 seconds after Wilson called for backup, a squad car called in to say the officer was about to arrive at the scene. And then another. Roughly three minutes after Wilson’s call, a dispatcher dialed in for an ambulance.
When reached for comment, Shawn McGuire, a spokesperson for the St. Louis County Police Department, which took over the investigation into Michael Brown’s case, said the department was preparing for the looming grand jury announcement on whether to charge Wilson with a crime.
Additional police station surveillance footage, also obtained by the Post-Dispatch, track Wilson’s movements after the shooting, when he spent roughly two hours at the station before leaving for the hospital. Wilson left accompanied by this union lawyer, the local newspaper reported, and returned to the station about 2.5 hours later.