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Michael Brown's Death
- Michael Brown
- Student / Victim
- May 20, 1996
- August 9, 2014
The life and death of Michael Brown:
This 6' foot, 4" teenager, who weighed nearly 300 pounds, got into a fight with a cop after a petty robbery and ended up on the wrong end of a gun. His death led to protests and riots, the chant "Hands Up, Don't Shoot" and serious questions about the way police departments across the United States treat Black Americans.
Michael Brown Junior was the son of Lesley McSpadden and Michael Brown Senior. Eight days before he died, he graduated from an alternative education program at Normandy High School in St. Louis.
But on August 9, 2014, "Big Mike" and his friend Dorian Johnson…
…were videotaped in a convenience store in Ferguson, Missouri…
…where Brown was caught stealing several packs of cigarillos and pushing the store clerk out of his way.
The clerk called police and 28 year old white police officer Darren Wilson…
…spotted Brown and Johnson walking down the middle of a Ferguson street. Although his first contact with them was not related to the convenience store robbery, Wilson said he noticed they matched the description of the thieves.
When Wilson backed up his police car and blocked their path, Wilson and Brown got into a scuffle, struggling for control of the officer's gun. Brown and Johnson then ran, with Wilson chasing them. Brown then stopped, faced the cop and started approaching. Officer Wilson started shooting, firing 12 times, hitting Brown several times with the last shot likely the deadly one.
Brown was not armed. However, while some witnesses claimed Michael had his hands up…
…police maintained there was no believable witness who said he was ready to surrender.
There was unrest in Ferguson with protests, both peaceful and others that degenerated into fiery riots and looting.
But a St. Louis grand jury refused to indict the cop, and in March 2015, the U.S. Department of Justice cleared Wilson of civil rights violation charges, despite the prodding of Attorney General Eric Holder.
According to the evidence, Wilson shot Brown in self-defense.
But the controversy did not end, and in fact inflamed the belief in black communities across the country that police departments treat blacks unfairly, leading to the "Black Lives Matter" political movement, which at times put blacks and whites at odds, like this incident when people eating brunch at various New York City restaurants were accosted.
Meantime, thousands of mourners attended Michael Brown's funeral at the Friendly Temple Missionary Baptist Church in St. Louis.
Brown's buried at St. Peter's Cemetery in Normandy, Missouri.
And there's a plaque for him in Ferguson.
Darren Wilson left the Ferguson police department and moved away – and a year later said the whole thing left him "unemployable".