The day after
Mike Brown was killed, the police began stating that he died just 35 feet from Officer Darren Wilson's SUV. For the first month, in my own reporting on the case, I parroted this distance as fact—not really thinking that the police would be bold enough to publicly lie about such an essential and verifiable fact of the case.
Then, this past September, a St. Louis resident who was familiar with the crime scene wrote me privately to tell me that he had studied the distance and it appeared to him that Brown was at least 100 feet away from the SUV—and maybe much farther. For three weeks, a team of volunteers and I studied every photo publicly available from the Aug.d 9 crime scene, sent someone to Canfield Drive to measure the distance between where we believed Darren Wilson's SUV was to where we believed Brown died, studied four different mapping softwares to help measure the distance, and concluded that the distance was, in fact, at a minimum, 100 feet. At the time, we wanted to go live with the possibility that Brown ran 150 feet away, but felt that we could publicly state 100 feet as an indisputable fact.
On Sept. 18, I went public with our evidence that Brown fled at least 100 feet from Wilson's SUV.
For the following two weeks, I asked the St. Louis County Police Department to comment on the enormous difference between what it had been saying publicly and what our research found. At least four other members of the press also asked them, on my behalf, and the police refused to comment on it. In the meantime, hundreds and hundreds of stories around the world, continued to advance the 35-foot distance as fact.
On Oct. 3, I wrote and published my first full-length article on the discrepancy and included every photo we found to prove what we believed on the distance. I also grew to believe that the lie about the distance was a part of a larger effort to cover up a grave injustice.
Privately, I asked every member of the mainstream media I knew to consider covering it and they refused—this includes CNN, MSNBC, The New York Times, The Washington Post, and more. I explained that I didn't care if they pretended like they came up with the story, that I didn't want any credit for it, but that such a major discrepancy from what their were outlets were reporting as fact should be addressed.
Finally, on Wednesday Nov. 1, I found a photo taken on Aug. 10, less than 24 hours after the shooting, of Mike Brown's family members standing on the blood-soaked concrete where he was killed. In the background of that photo was an indisputable street number on the building directly behind them. Seeing it renewed my desire, two months after first discovering the lie, to give it one last push.
I asked journalists from Argus News to film themselves making the measurement from where Wilson's SUV was to where Brown's family was in the new photo and we discovered that it was 148 feet. After I published the article, we realized that the measurement was incorrectly made from where Brown's head was, and not his feet. Thus, he was actually probably 154 feet away when he was killed. Still, the police refused to acknowledge or comment on the matter and several members of the St. Louis media wrote me publicly and privately to tell me I was wrong and that Brown was indeed killed 35 feet from Wilson's SUV.
Read below the fold for more analysis.
Unsure if Wilson's testimony before the grand jury was going to reflect the tale that was being told about Brown charging at the officer before he was shot and killed, it dawned on me that for that to be true, he would've had to have run not 154 feet away, but more in the range of 160-180 feet—making the lie of 35 feet that much more egregious.
Finally, when the grand jury decision was delivered, and prosecutor Bob McCulloch gave his remarks before the documents were released, he confirmed that Brown had died 153 feet away from the SUV.
The lead detective in the case saying he walked "50 times" back and forth from the SUV to Mike Brown's body,stated to the grand jury
that he measured from Darren Wilson's SUV window to Mike Brown's feet and that it was actually 160 feet, 4 inches.
The thing is, though, I don't really see any of this as vindication. The police still lied about it for 108 days, and they absolutely refused to clarify it for the media as they advanced the lie on their own behalf. The grand jury documents revealed that the medical examiner who arrived on the crime scene didn't even bother to take measurements or photos because he, literally, thought it didn't matter.
In his new interview on ABC, both Wilson and his interviewer, George Stephanopoulus, continued to advance the lie that Brown ran just 35 feet away. See them do so starting at 3:40 in the video below.
Again, Wilson continues to advance the lie because it supports his narrative. If Brown ran half a football field away, it suggests so much more to us than the mental image of his barely making it 10 yards before he, as Wilson suggests, turns around in a demonic rage, and then runs into a hail of gunfire from Wilson's semi-automatic pistol
If Wilson and the police will tell this lie, so boldly and so publicly, we must ask why. If they will tell this lie, one of fact and math, not of opinion, why do they deserve the benefit of the doubt with every other detail they claim to be the truth in this case?
Ultimately, this case should've gone to trial, where these claims could be cross-examined and debunked by a truly concerned attorney. But Brown's family, and all citizens who care for justice, were denied this opportunity.
The fight for truth in this case must continue. We cannot allow these lies to be told and for this injustice to be accepted on our watch.