Nearly three years after the shooting death of 18-year-old Michael Brown by a Ferguson, Missouri, police officer, security footage included in a new documentary raises questions about what happened in the hours before Brown’s death.
Jason Pollock, whose film “Stranger Fruit,” premiered at the SXSW Film Festival in Austin, told The New York Times that the tape challenges the police narrative of the events leading up to Brown’s death. Officers say that Brown committed a strong-armed robbery at a convenience store, which was why Officer Darren Wilson first confronted Brown.
But Pollock says the new footage raises other possibilities about what happened before the shooting.
“Michael was in the store the night before he died, and St. Louis County saw the video tape and didn’t tell us,” Pollock narrates in the film.
He argues that Brown appeared to give a store employee a small bag of marijuana in exchange for two boxes of cigarillos, which he left in the store for safe keeping. Pollock says what appeared to be a robbery was actually Brown returning to pick up how cigarillos.
The owners of the store dispute Pollock’s version of the events, saying the two visits were unrelated.
Whatever the truth about the store footage may be, it does not resolve questions about Officer Darren Wilson’s fatal shooting of Brown. Wilson was cleared of criminal wrongdoings but resigned from the police force.
The shooting — and other police shootings of unarmed African-American men — led to nationwide protests. The ones in Ferguson were violent.
Pollock, who spent more than two years in Ferguson researching “Stranger Fruit,” questions the decision to not charge Wilson. “This shows their intention to make [Michael] look bad. And shows suppression of evidence,” the filmmaker says.
Sgt. Shawn McGuire of the St. Louis County Police Department said in an email Saturday to The New York Times that he could not confirm the video’s authenticity, and the St. Louis County prosecutor’s office did not immediately respond to TheWrap’s requests for comment.
Watch the video above of the new footage.