Tag Archives: Officer Darren Wilson

Grand Jury Witness 40’s Claim That Michael Brown Charged “Like a Football Player” Falls Apart

In the debate over whether Officer Darren Wilson was justified or criminally culpable in the shooting death of unarmed teen Michael Brown, the pro-Wilson narrative parrots an account that alleged that the physically larger Michael Brown charged at Officer Wilson “like a football player,” a claim that was made by grand jury Witness 40, whom St. Louis County Prosecutor Robert McCulloch called in to testify. However, an exhaustive report on Witness 40, compiled by William Bastone, Andrew Goldberg, and Joseph Jesselli at The Smoking Gun, calls into question whether she was present on the day that the events occurred and what might have motivated her to fabricate her account. The above-embedded video, provided by Democracy Now!, includes an interview with William Bastone in which he goes into detail about his investigation into Witness 40’s testimony.

The report identified Witness 40 as 45-year-old St. Louis woman Sandra McElroy and paints her as a pathological liar with a criminal past. She reportedly made a variety of racist statements online, and her social media postings in the wake of Michael Brown’s death fit the pattern of an Officer Wilson supporter, rather than a witness to the shooting. McElroy, a fan of crime dramas, had previously offered herself as a witness to another criminal investigation which had generated significant media attention, though police assigned to that case dismissed her account as a “complete fabrication.”

McElroy waited until four weeks after the shooting to contact police. At the time at which she offered her testimony, Officer Wilson’s side of the story had been making its rounds in the media, and McElroy’s account mirrored the story detailed in those reports. She was interviewed first by St. Louis police and then by agents with the Federal Bureau of Investigation, who were so skeptical of her account that they pointed out the fact that she could face criminal charges for fabricating her testimony. Despite these red flags, Prosecutor Robert McCulloch called her to testify before the grand jury that would later opt against charging Officer Wilson in Brown’s death.

When FBI agents asked the Caucasian McElroy why she was in Ferguson, 30 miles from her home, on that day, she claimed that she had gotten lost while visiting a friend in the area and had stopped at the scene to ask for directions. However, at a November 3 grand jury hearing, she changed her story, saying that she would routinely “go into all the African-American neighborhoods” in an effort to improve race relations, and that, on that day, she planned to “go in and have coffee and… strike up a conversation with an African-American” in an effort to improve her understanding of the African-American community such that she could, according to a journal entry she provided to the grand jury, learn to “stop calling blacks n****** and start calling them people.”

The Smoking Gun‘s report also notes that McElroy at one point ran an online fundraising campaign to support Officer Darren Wilson, which she has since taken down. It is as-yet unknown as to whether or not her short-lived fundraising campaign generated any donations and what might have happened to the proceeds. An additional report by The Huffington Post argues that investigators made several mistakes while collecting evidence for the case, including failures to collect evidence in a timely manner and omitting basic steps like testing Officer Wilson’s gun, which Michael Brown allegedly grabbed, for fingerprints.

Nashville Police Chief Refuses to Crack Down on Ferguson Protesters, No Violence Ensues

“In Nashville, if you want to come to a public forum and express your thoughts, even if they’re against the government, you’re going to get your First Amendment protection, and you’re going to be treated fairly by the police officers involved. That’s what we do here in Nashville,” said Metro Nashville Police Chief Steve Anderson in comments to WKRN-TV 2, reflecting on his department’s response to Ferguson protests last Tuesday.

Chief Steve Anderson, who made news in October when his department refused to cooperate with Secret Service agents who asked Nashville police to falsify a warrant so that they could search the home of an Obama critic, is making headlines again for his unique approach to dealing with protesters angry about a grand jury’s decision not to indict Ferguson, MO Police Officer Darren Wilson in the shooting death of unarmed African-American teen Michael Brown. Rather than confronting protesters with militarized hardware, tear gas, and rubber bullets, Nashville police treated the protest more like a parade or community event, essentially providing security while protesters made their statement.

Incidentally, the protests, though they were emotionally-charged and attended by 450 people, did not descend into the type of violence, rioting, and looting that has been seen in other cities. Said Chief Anderson, “We had people that took to the streets, took to the forums to express their thoughts, their ideas, and they were extremely well-behaved. We had no incidents of any vandalism of any violence of any type. What I noted [is] that people were even picking up the trash that they had left behind at the scene.”

On Monday, prior to the announcement of the grand jury’s decision not to indict Officer Darren Wilson, Police Chief Steve Anderson and newly-elected District Attorney Glenn Funk, who won his election in a campaign that promised a focus on hardened criminals rather than good kids who make mistakes with drugs, scrambled to meet with clergy leaders in the African-American community, listening to concerns and creating relationships with those who would become leaders in the following day’s protest.

Chief Anderson’s police force met protesters with hot chocolate and bottled water, rather than tear gas, marched alongside them, and ran the type of security that one might expect in a civic parade, communicating on an ongoing basis with protest leaders. At one point, protesters charged up an on-ramp and took over Interstate 24 over the objections of Nashville police. Chief Anderson made a controversial real-time decision, opting not to arrest protesters, and ordered officers to shut down I-24 temporarily, allowing demonstrators to make their statement by lying down on the roadway while drivers waited. Consequently, protesters were cleared off the roadway within twenty to twenty-five minutes. Anderson acknowledged that the incident did inconvenience Nashville drivers, but no more so than a car accident or other situation in which police sometimes block the roadway to protect citizens’ safety.

“We could have moved in and made arrests, but to do that you have to do that one by one in a very careful manner… We would have been there two to three hours,” said Chief Anderson, explaining his decision not to arrest protesters for taking over I-24 in comments to WKRN-TV 2. “Last night’s event went very well and I hope that all of Nashville is proud of not only the law enforcement response, but the response of the citizens involved and that we have set an example for the nation.”

Chief Anderson’s comments about Nashville’s Ferguson protests can be seen in the above-embedded video player, provided by Nashville News.

FERGUSON: No Indictment for Officer Wilson in Michael Brown death

FERGUSON, Missouri, November 24, 2014– Monday night, a grand jury decided not to indict officer Darren Wilson in the death of Michael Brown.

Previous to the public announcement, police have been anticipating an eruption of violence. Multiple reports of police commentary began to flood the internet as on location journalists and citizens listened to police scanners. As the announcement was made, protesters mostly breathed a sigh of disappointment and turned to walk away. So far, no violence has been witnessed.

Reports of the grand jury’s decision began to leak approximately 15 minutes before the official announcement.  

Follow Michael Lotfi on Facebook & Twitter for more live updates.


As Grand Jury Decision Looms, Officer Darren Wilson Negotiates Potential Resignation

On August 9, unarmed Ferguson, MO teen Michael Brown was shot to death by Officer Darren Wilson of the Ferguson Police Department, an incident that was seen as the tipping point that pushed tensions between the local community and police over the edge. Now, the grand jury assigned to the case is closing in on making a decision about whether to indict Wilson for the shooting and could do so at any moment.

Considering the intensity of the spontaneous protests that broke out following Brown’s death, city and state officials fear that, if the grand jury declines to charge Officer Wilson, civil unrest could follow. Missouri Governor Jay Nixon has activated a 30-day state of emergency and readied the National Guard in advance of the grand jury’s announcement. If the decision were to come today, prosecutors would likely delay publicizing the announcement for 48 hours in order to give law enforcement officials time to make preparations. During that time, prosecutors also plan to remain in contact with attorneys representing Michael Brown’s family.

Meanwhile, CNN is reporting on sources close to the case that say that city officials and Officer Darren Wilson are negotiating his potential resignation, a move that could be aimed at dimming tensions in the event that Wilson does not face charges. Wilson reportedly told associates that he might be willing to resign to calm hostilities between the local community and police, but fears that doing so prior to a grand jury announcement could give the impression that he is admitting fault in the shooting death of Michael Brown. Officer Wilson continues to maintain his innocence.

Eff Roorda, business manager for the St. Louis Police Officers’ Association told FOX 2 St. Louis that he “doesn’t think” the grand jury will charge Officer Wilson. Chief Tom Jackson of the Ferguson Police Department, who has said that Wilson could come back to work if the grand jury does not hand down an indictment, claimed that he was unaware of any talks regarding Wilson’s potential resignation. Mayor James Knowles said of the rumored negotiations, “Nothing has been decided.”

According to CNN‘s sources, the resignation negotiations could break down at any time, especially if the grand jury were to bring charges against Wilson.

The City of Ferguson has announced that its mayor and police chief will not be conducting any further interviews about the case until the grand jury makes its decision. Officer Wilson is currently on paid administrative leave and, if he were to continue working with the Ferguson Police Department, would have to face two rounds of psychological evaluation.

On Thursday, Michael Brown’s father called for supporters to remain calm in the event that the grand jury does not indict Wilson. He said, “My family and I are hurting. Our whole region is hurting. I thank you for lifting your voices to end racial profiling and police intimidation, but hurting others or destroying property is not the answer… No matter what the grand jury decides, I do not want my son’s death to be in vain. I want it to lead to incredible change — positive change — change that makes the St. Louis region better for everyone.”

St. Louis Police Chief Sam Dotson told CNN, “We’ve had three months to prepare [for the grand jury’s announcement]. … Acts of violence will not be tolerated. Our intelligence is good. Our tactics are good. We can protect lawful people and at the same time arrest criminals.”

Ben Swann reported live from Ferguson on RT last week. Check out his coverage in the below-embedded video player.