Michael Brown shooting witness wrote of negative views of blacks

Image: Gina Gowdy
A high school graduation photo of Michael Brown stands at a memorial more than three months after the black teen was shot and killed nearby by a white policeman as Gina Gowdy, of Ferguson, Mo., walks past carrying an American flag on Nov. 22, 2014, in Ferguson, Mo.

A witness who contributed evidence to the grand jury in the shooting death of Michael Brown confessed in a private diary to holding negative views of black people before stumbling upon the incident that took the unarmed black teenager’s life.

The writings from “Witness 40,” as the person is identified, surfaced in grand jury documents released Monday after the panel decided not to indict Brown’s shooter, Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson.

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According to the documents, the witness began a journal entry the day Brown was killed on a note of self-reflection. “Well I’m gonna take my random drive to Florissant. Need to understand the black race better so I stop calling blacks niggers and start calling them people. Like dad always said, you can’t fear or hate an entire race cause [sic] of what one man did 40 years ago.” The journal entry was logged at approximately 8:00 am on August 9.

In the next section of the journal entry -- written around 4 p.m, approximately four hours after Brown’s death – Witness 40 recounted the fatal encounter. “Omfg it was crazy,” the witness wrote.

The witness described being turned around during the drive and ending up near a Ferguson apartment complex. The witness then heard a “weird noise” and saw a cop, presumably Wilson, engaged with the “same kids I almost hit with car.” Brown was with a friend, Dorian Johnson, at the time of the fatal incident.  

Witness 40’s account is similar to how others -- including Wilson -- have described the confrontation between Wilson and Brown. The two men were involved in an altercation inside the officer’s car, and the conflict continued outside the vehicle.

“The cop was wobbling the big kid turned around had his arms out with attitude,” the witness wrote. “The cop just stood there dang if that kid didn’t start running right at the cop like a football player. Head down. I heard 3 bangs but the big kid wouldn’t stop. I heard cop say something but not sure what or if he was just making noise. Cop took a couple steps forward then backwards and the gun went off 2 more times. The last one on the top of the kid’s head. Omg the blood.”

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A man in a green shirt grabbed Witness 40 and said, “Get your ass out of here,” the witness described, adding there was a growing police presence in the area after the shooting.

The final journal entry, written around 9 p.m., ends with the witness telling someone -- the name was redacted -- about the incident. “He told me 1st I was nuts taking drive up there and 2nd keep my mouth shut. He’s prob right no one will believe me anyway.”

The grand jury’s decision not to indict Wilson devastated Brown’s parents. Benjamin Crump, a lawyer for the Brown family, issued a strong rebuke Tuesday to the St. Louis County prosecutor overseeing the investigation into Brown’s shooting. “We object publicly and as loudly as we can on behalf of Michael Brown’s family that this process is broken,” Crump said.

In the wake of the grand jury’s decision not to indict Wilson, Ferguson took a violent and chaotic turn Monday night. A number of businesses were torched and looted, dozens of gunshots rang out and 82 people were arrested.