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  1. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    What can be said about the Ferguson decision?

    Discussion in 'Debate Room' started by Steerpike, Nov 25, 2014.

    Personally, I've found the amount of misinformation going around on social media from both sides to be disheartening, especially on Twitter. If you're commenting on the substance of the grand jury decision and you haven't yet gone through all of the evidence that was before the grand jury, you are by definition commenting from a position of ignorance. My posts on social media, going back to when this happened, come out in favor of Brown. That's still my stance. But I can't blame the grand jury itself or say that those people were biased or wrong without looking at all of the evidence they had to work with. There are some things that can be said, in general, without looking at all of that evidence, though:

    1. The prosecutor didn't appear to want an indictment here. You've probably all heard the expression that a good prosecutor could get a grand jury to indict a ham sandwich. That's because the process is stacked against the defendant. Typically, the prosecution comes in and puts on just the evidence they need to get an indictment. They don't throw every piece of evidence in. The grand jury is only there to decide if there is a probable cause for an indictment, and if there is then during the actual trial all of the evidence comes in. The process used here was unusual, and I don't think it served the interests of the community to conduct this as a trial-but-not-a-trial;

    2. The law is too permissive when it comes to police use of violence. Whatever the evidence showed, the grand jury had to apply Missouri statute, which gives a great deal of leeway to police in their use of deadly force. That sort of law needs to be changed by state legislatures, and Missouri isn't the only jurisdiction that has such laws. It is too easy for police to start shooting and then provide a legal justification for it; and

    3. The unrest in the Ferguson area is emblematic of a historical, and systemic problem between law enforcement and minority communities in the St. Louis area. All of this bad feeling wasn't created out of thin air overnight with the shooting of Michael Brown. The only way to fix the problems that exist there are to address the larger problems, which means continuing to look at this issue long after the Brown case has faded from the headlines.

    It is also important to make sure you have a command of the facts when talking about the case, and aren't simply repeating inflammatory falsehoods. So far this morning I've seen misstatements of the autopsy reports, misstatements about Brown that favor the police, and a picture of the KKK from an old news story being circulated around Twitter with the caption stating it was from last night in Ferguson, and a bunch of mindless Twits retweeting it. That doesn't do anyone any good.
     
    Last edited: Nov 25, 2014
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  2. chicagoliz
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    chicagoliz Contributing Member Contributor

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    I agree with everything you said. What is very clear is that the prosecutor did not want an indictment. My understanding is that in MO, an indictment could very well have been secured by a hearing -- not even going to a grand jury. The prosecutor just used the grand jury to deflect blame -- hey, it wasn't my call - the grand jury didn't indict, and then he can throw up his hands and shake his head and proclaim he did all he could.

    But it's not hard to get the grand jury to give you the result you want, especially when you present evidence for the defense and don't lay out all the facts most favorable to the prosecution. Had it been a black defendant who killed a white man, of course he would have gotten an indictment.

    The unrest comes from the extreme frustration at the utter failure and malfunction of the justice system, especially with respect to young black men. I think, unfortunately, that even had this gone to trial, it's unlikely there would have been a conviction. But here, the white man didn't even have to endure the trauma and ordeal of a trial.
     
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  3. Lemex
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    Lemex That's Lord Lemex to you. Contributor

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    I know I'm picking up on just one point here, but this is the age of misinformation.
     
  4. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    @chicagoliz I agree with you, and I think it hurts the confidence in the process to see a special system employed in this case, instead of just convening a grand jury like any other grand jury and letting the process proceed from there.

    @Lemex you're not kidding. We just got out of the mid-term election cycle in the U.S., and the level of misinformation cheerfully spread by folks on social media was staggering. Here, each party has its so-called base, which are basically mindless buffoons favoring either the Republican or Democrat party, who are willing to spread talking points and false information on social media, and basically just cheer-lead everything their side does and deride everything the other side does. They're only about 20% of the electorate, but they're vocal and tend to have higher rates of voter turn out. I don't know if the misinformation around politics on social media is as bad in the UK, but it is truly astounding how bad it is here in the U.S.
     
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  5. chicagoliz
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    chicagoliz Contributing Member Contributor

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    I'm in a private group on facebook, and this was shared by a member of that group. I find it so thought-provoking that I've re-shared it several times. (The author gave permission to re-share). And I do believe they wanted the riots, and wanted to make the community look bad -- that's why they built up the anticipation and made the announcement in early prime time. Fires look so much more compelling at night.

    First, in Ferguson, the cop car that was on fire for a long time on TV last night was burning across the street from the fire station. Why wasn't it put out? I don't know, except I can speculate that it made for exciting television. Likewise, the fires in Ferguson were limited to two or two and a half streets, and I can't explain there, either, why the National Guard or police did not stop the fires from being started. It's hard for me to imagine that they didn't LET Ferguson be burned, when upscale Clayton, nearby, had mailboxes locked and intense protection--and suffered no damage at all. In South City, where I have many friends, one friend reported that after the violence died down, there were folks on the street trying to clean up the mess, and some had gathered at a restaurant/bar where they were just having drinks and reflecting, and a police officer came by, through tear gas at them, and kept driving. Likewise, a coffee house at Arsenal and Grand that had previously announced its support for protestors and that was the subject of online police message boards that threatened them was surrounded by a huge police line for quite a while last night, for no reason I could discern. Later I learned from two friends who were in the shop that the police shot tear gas INTO the coffee shop. When people tried to escape out the back, they also shot tear gas there, forcing people to take shelter in the basement. There was no violence or damage to property anywhere else in St. Louis that I know of. The widespread chaos every institution around here seemed to be expecting simply didn't happen. It doesn't take many people to start a fire, and it's hard for me to grasp why no one stopped them unless they wanted to send the very message that the media sent to the world last night. These are just my own thoughts and gathered observations from my knowledge of the geography and experiences of my friends and neighbors, so take it for what it's worth. But please, help challenge these storylines. They are hurting us more than the fires or broken glass has.
     
  6. Lea`Brooks
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    Lea`Brooks Contributing Member Contributor

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    I just finished watching the press conference by Michael Brown's lawyers and Al Sharpton. And I think what Sharpton said is very important.... The prosecutor made the decision to announce the Grand Jury decision during the week of Thanksgiving, when most area schools had canceled classes for the entire week. He also postponed the announcement from 5pm to 8pm, when it was dark, and businesses were closed and children were out of school....

    It seems to me that a man trying to prevent disaster would have chosen better circumstances to announce.

    I'm not saying Michael Brown is innocent of everything. He reportedly stole those cigars (though I've since seen other articles suggesting he actually paid for it and the owner of the store wasn't the one who called 911), and yes, there was an altercation at Darren Wilson's vehicle. But the fact of the matter is, a police officer shot and killed an unarmed teenager from 30+ feet away.... and he wants us to believe it was self defense? He was far enough away from Michael Brown to have done something, anything, other than kill him. Darren Wilson needs to be held accountable for that.

    I'm hoping something is done about this. Michael Brown was done an injustice last night.
     
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  7. Link the Writer
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    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

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    On the whole, I just feel so bad for Ferguson. Because of this, it's now practically a war zone and innocent people, both black and white, who had nothing to do with the case, must now suffer. At this point, I don't care how it all started. Maybe Brown really was guilty, maybe he wasn't. Maybe this was a misunderstanding that ended in horrible, horrible tragedy for everyone. Point is, Ferguson's pretty much on fire and there's nothing the innocents can do but wait it all out and hope they don't get hurt or killed.

    Regardless of whose really to blame in this case, Brown or Wilson, the people of Ferguson didn't deserve to have their lives upended like this.
     
  8. GingerCoffee
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    Watching the prosecutor frame his words in the press conference revealed a lot. He was convinced Wilson acted appropriately. I assume his belief was formed at the outset.

    Instead of addressing the witnesses that saw Brown with his hands up, and whose testimony did match the forensics, McCulloch mentioned the rumor that went round that Brown was shot while he was on the ground as an example to discredit all the witnesses that saw Brown trying to surrender.

    And of course Wilson's testimony matched the forensics, he had months to change his version of events to fit that evidence. No police statements were recorded on paper the day of the shooting. A suspect does have the right to not answer questions, and that should have applied to Wilson as well. But police are supposed to take a statement and they didn't, nor did they record that Wilson refused to give a statement. Then they corroborated the later account as if Wilson had given a statement.

    Claiming the forensics match Wilson's testimony neglected a couple things. None of the witnesses denied there was an altercation at the car and shot(s) were fired, yet when the information was strategically leaked (I believe the evidence is clear certain evidence was systematically leaked) that Brown was shot in the struggle involving the gun, this was taken as refuting witness testimony. Not only was that consistent with the witnesses who saw Brown shot trying to give up, more than a few opinions at first had claimed Dorian Johnson was lying because he said he saw blood when Brown stopped struggling with Wilson and began running. They were ready to discredit Johnson, but I heard nothing saying the autopsy of the wound to the hand corroborated Johnson.

    Then there's two witnesses who said Brown was shot once from behind as he ran, causing him to turn around. McCulloch said straight out no shots hit Brown from behind. But the autopsy found one arm wound that could have been from the front or the back. McCulloch dishonestly described the evidence re the autopsy as refuting the witnesses and corroborating Wilson.

    The two witnesses closest to the shooting, Johnson and Tiffany Mitchell were dismissed as liars despite both of them being very credible. One has to consider racism played a role in that dismissal, even if it was under the surface racism.

    In essence, from where I sit, McCulloch let Wilson have a fake trial, rather then the Grand Jury finding cause to indict, they found Wilson not guilty, without any cross examination or serious challenges to his story.

    The eyewitnesses that saw Brown trying to give up should have been enough to take the case to trial. There is little to no evidence refuting what either Mitchell or Johnson said they saw. Supposedly the fact Brown's blood was 20 feet up the street from where his body fell is inconsistent with those witnesses. But another witness said Brown was doubled over and stumbling forward as if he'd been shot. Getting hit, turning around and walking back toward Wilson, getting hit again, doubling over while stumbling forward fits with the blood evidence.

    But the most important evidence is the gun shot audio recording and the location of the two kill shots to the top of the head. On that recording there are six shots, a brief pause, then 4 more shots. Whether or not Brown was hit before he turned around, whether or not he was moving toward Wilson, Brown was on his way to the ground when the last shot hit the top of his head. One of those wounds plus the injury to Brown's face said Brown was killed by a shot that could only have occurred two ways, either:
    Brown was "bull rushing" Wilson, which I find implausible as I find Wilson's claim (which no one corroborated) that Brown was taunting Wilson. Are we to believe Brown really thought Wilson wouldn't shoot? How is that plausible given most or all those young black men in that area fear the cops will shoot them.
    OR
    Brown was on his way down because he was either giving up or falling from the injuries he already had. Remember that couple second pause in the shooting audio? That was time to recognize Brown was injured and no longer a threat. Yet it has to be after that pause Brown was shot in the top of his head.

    Either Wilson was negligent or shot in anger. That's how I see the evidence. And it's a shame the two witnesses who were closest to the incident were discounted as liars I suppose, while Wilson's less than believable story was presented by McCulloch as matching all the forensics and honest. MuCulloch only saw what he wanted to see. And Wilson got a very unfair trial in his favor when he should have been sent to an actual trial.
     
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  9. GingerCoffee
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    I heard one more opinion I want to share and it goes to some of the quote Liz posted:
    The opinion I speak of was on Democracy Now and they have a liberal POV and I didn't read the Grand Jury transcripts the report was based on. But I don't see it was not true and it fits with letting a little bit of rioting go on.

    Things that were presented to the GJ were things that played up the 'those scary people' image. Wilson was allowed to talk about the bad neighborhood this happened in, gangs and all. And of course the scary video of the strong arm robbery which showed Brown push a smaller store clerk was shown. But then so were the police calls after the fact that were not relevant to the shooting where the police call for back up because the crowd was threatening to the police. Yeah, the kid was lying in the street for 4 hours and witnesses were telling the crowd Brown had been trying to surrender, what did the police expect?

    The whole narrative was, Wilson was in a dangerous neighborhood with this large physically threatening scary black man, of course Wilson had to shoot him. McCulloch allowed every irrelevant thing that made Brown look threatening into the GJ evidence under the excuse he was putting all the evidence out there. All the while it supported one narrative, young black men are threatening scary thugs.

    Letting the mob do a specifically delineated amount of burning and looting seems suspiciously geared toward making the community look bad and the police look like innocent victims. I try to stay away from conspiracy theorizing. It's hard to imagine this was planned and coordinated. But it's not hard to imagine a bunch of cops saying to themselves, "let the bastards burn up their own neighborhood," as a sort of passive aggressive revenge.

    Chris Hayes (MSNBC) confirmed that he witnessed the complete lack of a police and fire response to just a small area of the city. He asked Daniel Isom, former St Louis police chief now the State Public Safety Director, appointed by Governor Nixon last August, why they let part of Ferguson burn and why the announcement was made at the time it was. Isom passed the buck saying he wasn't responsible then claimed tonight would be better.

    There are so many things wrong with this whole mess.
     
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  10. Lea`Brooks
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    I'm just really disappointed it isn't going to trial. There are so many witness statements, so many contradicting stories, that a jury, a REAL jury, deserves to hear it.

    I remember saying the same thing to my boyfriend about McCulloch -- he'd set out to discredit Michael Brown and all his supporters from the moment he opened his mouth. He very clearly was setting up the audience, letting them know that Darren Wilson was in the right, and anyone who disagreed was wrong and here's why. Plus, he said there were only like four or five credible witnesses? There were 64 witness testimonies. And only four of them were credible? I find that incredibly hard to believe.
     
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  11. Link the Writer
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    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

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  12. Lewdog
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    Lewdog Come ova here and give me kisses! Supporter Contributor

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    If true that Brown punched Wilson through the window of his car, I'm not going to believe that Brown didn't confront Wilson outside of the car and go after his gun. If you are an officer and someone is going after your gun and possibly ready to shoot and kill you, what's your reaction going to be? Then if true, this same person comes running towards you once you've already fired your gun, aren't you going to fear for your life? Especially with the size of Brown? Everyone has been quick to indict Wilson before the Grand Jury, but isn't this a country where a person is innocent until proven guilty and there is a system set forth to not cause undo stress on people who act under the guidelines of the law? If Wilson acted under the law why should we take him to a hearing just for the sake of taking him to a hearing? For anyone that says they feel Wilson's should still go to a court hearing despite a grand jury saying no charges should be filed, I hope you never have to endure a court case when you are innocent. Then you'll know just how much grief that actually means.
     
  13. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    You have the facts wrong.

    It's clear Wilson and Brown struggled at the vehicle window, the gun was involved, 2 shots were fired, one hit Brown in the hand.

    No one is denying that.

    But when Brown stopped running he either charged at Wilson who was still at least 30 feet away (Brown moved 20 feet toward the vehicle while bleeding) or he tried to surrender as the two closest witnesses said he did.

    Had Brown been in a standing position when shot that would be consistent with moving toward Wilson whether he did or did not charge at Wilson.

    But the two kill shots, one that went in the forehead angled down and passed through Brown's eye and one that went through the top of his head angled down, means Wilson killed Brown as he was either falling or getting down on the ground. He could not have been coming at Wilson and been shot in the top of his head.
     
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  14. Lewdog
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    Lewdog Come ova here and give me kisses! Supporter Contributor

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    I sat tonight and watched a high profile court litigation prosecutor say that Wilson's description of the incident 'could have happened' given the autopsy information though there could have been a more reasonable explanation for the wounds. Your feelings are a bit misguided.
     
  15. chicagoliz
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    chicagoliz Contributing Member Contributor

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    I don't think they coordinated it or planned it, but they sure did everything they could to maximize the chances of a riot occurring. Seriously -- WTF -- announcing it in early prime time? Right when fires are the most compelling television viewing.

    That should have been for a jury to decide at a trial.
    Plus, there's no explanation as to why he could not have shot Brown in the leg if this were the case. This whole policy of go right to deadly force is troubling.
     
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  16. Lewdog
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    Lewdog Come ova here and give me kisses! Supporter Contributor

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    That's law enforcement 101. Never draw a gun unless you can use it, don't point a gun with the safety on at a perp, and never shoot just to wound.

    You shoot center mass for a couple of reasons. First it's where the vital organs are. Secondly it's stressful enough to be shooting a gun at someone that may be putting your life in danger that most people don't have the nerves and talent to be shooting people in the leg just to wound and stop them.
     
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  17. chicagoliz
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    chicagoliz Contributing Member Contributor

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    This seems like a problem. Also, problematic is that black men are the ones who are killed. Doesn't seem like only one race deserves the lethal force.
     
  18. Lewdog
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    Lewdog Come ova here and give me kisses! Supporter Contributor

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    That's so untrue. There are black cops too, some of whom have shot young white men. It would be crazy not to accept that. This has just become a high profile case that has stirred racial tensions once again. We are just going to have to face it that there is going to be a racial divide over something for as long as we exist.
     
  19. chicagoliz
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    chicagoliz Contributing Member Contributor

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    Not saying that never happens. It's just that it's not as likely. Black men are also incarcerated at a much higher rate, despite committing crimes at a rate similar to whites. (For a great book on that, read The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander. It is, I think, a MUST READ for everyone in the U.S.)
    Meanwhile, see
    http://m.motherjones.com/politics/2014/08/police-shootings-ferguson-race-data
     
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  20. Lewdog
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    Lewdog Come ova here and give me kisses! Supporter Contributor

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    You are going to also have a higher rate of white cops shooting black men because there are more white men that are part of law enforcement. That can come from profiling, it can come from lack of education available for blacks, and it can also come from the whole, "Fuck the police" attitude that I've seen many times. If a black man doesn't like the police, especially from a young age, they certainly aren't going to go into law enforcement.
     
  21. Ben414
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    I think what I stated in an earlier thread is relevant, so I'll re-post it here:

    "There are many, many other studies that suggest blacks are discriminated against by police [and the criminal justice system], though.

    For starters, there is strong evidence that black males are more likely to have their car stopped than white males when controlling for potentially confounding variables. Here are four corroborating studies: Color of Driver is Key to Stops in I-95 Videos by J. Brazil in 1992; Statistics Show Pattern of Discrimination by H. Curtis in 1992; Racial Profiling was the Routine, New Jersey Finds by D. Kocieniewski in 2000; and The Construction and Reinforcement of Myths of Race and Crime by M. Robinson in 2000.

    There is also evidence that police stop blacks on the street more often than whites (The New York City Police Department's Stop and Frisk Practices by E. Spitzer in 1999) despite the fact that blacks that have been stopped are less likely to have contraband than whites that have been stopped (The Reality of Racial Disparity in Criminal Justice: The Significance of Data Collection by D. Harris in 2003).

    Other books also show that blacks are disproportionately found among the wrongfully convicted, including In Spite of Innocence by M. Radelet in 1992; Wrongly Convicted by S. Westervelt in 2001; Race for Your Life by T. Harmon in 2004; and Exonerations in the United States 1989 through 2003 by S. Gross in 2005. The largest reasons given for these differences is eye witness misidentification (the "Own Race Bias") and prejudice by police and prosecutors.

    There is also evidence that convictions differ between the races even while accounting for confounding variables from Racial Disproportionality of US Prison Populations Revisited by A. Blumstein in 1993 and The Malign Effects of Drug and Crime Control Policies on Black Americans by M. Tonry in 2008. In fact, Tonry found that 39% of the conviction differences between the races cannot be explained by economic class, criminal activity, and other confounding variables."
     
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  22. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    I'm not going to argue with you because you are my friend and I hate it when you get mad at me, but...

    It's not that Wilson's version didn't fit the forensics. Of course it did, he had months to concoct a version that fit the evidence. It's that his story is not very credible and there are credible eye witnesses who tell a different version.

    It should have gone to trial. At this point I don't think Wilson is credible and I think Mitchell and Johnson were. In addition there is a spontaneous construction worker on video saying "his hands were up" only minutes after the shooting and nowhere he could have heard any other witness say it.

    Without a trial all we have is a very slanted pseudo-trial that acquitted Wilson. The transcripts that have been released show that.
     
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  23. GingerCoffee
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    Yes.

    And if that center mass is a man who is bending over to get on the ground or falling down because he's been shot in the chest, where is that center mass? The top of the bent over head.
     
  24. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    And there's this:

    School to Prison Pipeline

    In essence, two white boys get in a fight at school, they get suspended. Two black boys get in a fight at school, the cops are called and assault charges are filed.
     
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  25. 123456789
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    You should care. If an officer is to blame, that is a very, very bad thing.
     
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