Ferguson shooting eyewitness accounts: 5 questions they answered



A man stands at a memorial where Michael Brown was killed Monday, Aug. 11, 2014, in Ferguson, Mo.
After poring over evidence, hearing eyewitness testimonies for months, 12 jurors deliberated for two days before voting to not indict Ferguson officer Darren Wilson for shooting Michael Brown.
Prosecutor Robert McCulloch released the evidence that was presented to the grand jury, including more than 20 eyewitness accounts of the shooting. Did Michael Brown have his hands up? Was officer Darren Wilson shooting while Brown ran away? We went through 19 eyewitness statements. Here's what those eyewitnesses had to say.

1. Where was Brown in relation to the police car?



Pie Chart Brown Car

Percentage is based on the responses from six eyewitness accounts. The other eyewitnesses either didn't see this particular event or they were unsure of their answer. Those statements were not included.

Witness 10: Leaning in

Brown was leaned "a little bit deeper than, right below your armpits. That's how much of his body was in the car," he said. Brown's feet were on the ground. The SUV door was "completely closed."

Witness 12: At the driver window

"I saw some arms goin' through the window."

Witness 14: Up against the car

“Practically up against the car,” and at least one of his hands were inside the car.

Witness 32: Outside the car

Detective: “The other young man is still outside?”
Witness: “Yes, sir.”

Witness 34: Reaching inside the car

Detective: “So what you’re saying is the officer is reaching out of the car holding onto Michael Brown’s shirt. Michael Brown is reaching into the car holding onto the officer’s shirt.”
Witness: “Right, right.”

Witness 48: Standing very close

“I seen a young man standing near the cruiser [...] Maybe like a foot at the most.”

Witness 57: Up against the window

Brown had his body "against the car," with his shirt "being tugged" by Wilson. Brown's "upper half was up against window."

2. Did Brown punch or pull away at the car?



Pie Chart Brown Action

Witness 10: Unsure

"At that distance I couldn't tell. It looked like a confrontation and all I could assume was some type of confrontation was going on in the car."

Witness 12: Unsure

"It might have been Michael Brown's arm. He might have been punchin' the police officer or whatever. Somethin' was goin' on through the window."

Witness 32: Unsure

“It was like some kind of confrontation going on.”

Witness 34: Brown punched Wilson

“He punched the officer.”

Witness 43: Brown pulled away

The witness did not mention any punch, but saw Brown “trying to like pull away from [Wilson]” after he put his hands inside the car.

Witness 44: Unsure

“He came around to the driver’s side and all you saw was his hands going in and out of the car.”

Witness 46: No

Witness says Brown didn’t take any steps toward Wilson

Witness 48: Unsure

Detective: “[Brown] had his hands down toward his waist.”
Witness: “Right.”

Wintess 57: No

No mention of any punching. Witness says he only saw Brown "push off" the car after Wilson grabbed his shirt.

3. Was Brown running away when Wilson shot?



Pie Chart Brown YesNo

Witness 10: No

Brown was running away from the car, but Wilson didn't fire shots until Brown turned around.
Detective: "OK, so from the time that you hear that first gunshot and the officer gets out of the car until the time that Michael Brown stop and turn around and faces the officer, right?"
Witness: "Uh huh."
Detective: "Do you hear any gunshots between that period right there?"
Witness: "No."

Witness 12: Yes

Detective: "When those first four shots are bein' taken, where the officer shooting from and which direction is Michael Brown facing?"
Witness: "Michael Brown is facing away from him."
Detective: "So is he still running?"
Witness: "Yeah, he, uh, he still..."
Detective: "With his back to the officer."
Witness: "...yeah with his back to the officer."

Witness 16: Yes

“He was shooting as he was running.”

Witness 25: Yes

“I see a, a African American gentleman running away from a, a caucasian officer and the caucasian officer was walking behind him steady open fire.”

Witness 30: Yes

“He started to run, and that’s when the officer shot him in the leg.”

Witness 42: Yes

Brown was “running away” and Wilson was “chasing” him.

Witness 43: Yes

He saw Brown “run down the street.”

Witness 44: No

Officer: “So he didn’t shoot at him while he was running?” Witness: “No. I don’t think so.”

Witness 46: Yes

He was “running away from the police,” or “walking real fast.”

Witness 48: No

“Only when he was charging at him.”

Witness 57: Yes

Witness saw Brown "running."

Witness 64: Yes

Brown was "running" and Wilson was "chasing" him.

4. Did Brown charge Wilson?



Pie Chart Brown Charge

Witness 10: Yes

Detective: "Is the a trot, or is it a jog, or is it a full out...?"
Witness: "No, it's a full out... I'm comin' charge full-blown at you try to get to ya."

Witness 14: No

He “was not charging [Wilson”]. He was “coming forward slowly” and “he was not coming menacingly.”

Witness 16: No

“He just turned around and stops.”

Witness 22: No

“He was kneeling.”

Witness 25: Unclear

“I see the African American guy walking back down, facing the caucasian officer.”

Witness 30: Unclear

He says Brown was “walking back” towards Wilson, but he also says Brown pointed at the police officer, and “it looked like he had a gun.”

Witness 32: Unclear

“I saw the young man turn. He was facing the police officer.”

Witness 34: Maybe

“He was walking towards the police he was walking kinda fast but you know just walking.”

Witness 41: No


Brown was on "his knees with his hands up."

Witness 42: No

It was Wilson who “closed in” on Brown.

Witness 44: No

“When he turned around he took about a step back then he put his hands up basically like I’m done.”

Witness 45: No

“He turned around, and he started going back towards the police to defend hisself, like, like to give up.”

Witness 48: Yes

“The dude turned back around and started charging towards the police officer, the police officer told him to stop at least three times.”

Witness 64: Unclear

Witness isn’t sure whether Brown was "running" or "stumbling" toward Wilson, but he was moving in the officer’s direction.

5. Were Brown's hands up?



Pie Chart Brown Hands

Witness 10: No

Detective: "And where are his hands at that point, do you know?"
Witness: "Um, I know for sure they weren't above his head."

Witness 12: Maybe

"He probably had his hands up when he got hit." [...] "He probably had one hand up, but, um, but he had his hands down here and that's uh, the officer let out about four more shots and he hit the ground."

Witness 14: Yes, but...

"He didn’t have his hands all the way up.” They were “up about shoulder length.”

Witness 16: Yes

“...he turned around and put his arms up in the air.”

Witness 22: Yes

"He put his hands up."

Witness 30: No

"I never saw him put his hands up anywhere."

Witness 34: No

Detective: “Down at your side in a normal position.”
Witness: “Right, right.”

Witness 41: Yes

Brown was “his knees with his hands up.”

Witness 42: Yes

Brown put his arms up, Wilson “stood over him and finished him off,” in what the witness described as “execution style.”

Witness 44: Yes

“And like he did have his hands up. People wasn’t just saying that. He did turn around and put his hands up.”

Witness 45: Yes

“He stopped and with his arms up, never went down to portray that he had a weapon or anything.”

Witness 46: Maybe

Witness only cited one hand in the air, saying Brown turned around and “raised his hand up."

Witness 48: Yes, briefly

“He put his hands up for a few seconds and then put his arms down and he kind of put them close to his chest and he started running.”

64: Sort of

Initially Brown had both hands at “shoulder length” but then me put one on his chest.
  • Ferguson-1

    Demonstrators listen to a car radio as a grand jury's decision is delivered in front of the Ferguson police department on November 24, 2014 in Ferguson, Missouri.
    IMAGE: JUSTIN SULLIVAN/GETTY IMAGES
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    A police officer holds her gun during clashes with protesters following the grand jury decision in the death of 18-year-old Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, on November 24, 2014.
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    Protestors stand with their hands up during a demonstration on November 24, 2014 in Ferguson, Missouri.
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    Demonstrators flee as police fire tear gas during clashes in Ferguson.
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    Protesters attack a police car during clashes following a grand jury decision in Ferguson, Missouri.
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    A protester waves a "black and white" modified US flag during a march following the grand jury decision in the death of 18-year-old Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri.
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    Demonstrators gather to protest the decision not to indict police officer Darren Wilson in the shooting death of Michael Brown.
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    A damaged squad car sits nearby as police confront protestors after rioting broke out following the grand jury announcement in the Michael Brown case.
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    One of the looted stores is seen during riots after the grand jury's decision not to indict a police officer Darren Wilson in the shooting of Michael Brown.
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    A protester walks out of a store with goods after the announcement of the grand jury decision Monday, Nov. 24, 2014, in Ferguson, Mo.
    IMAGE: DAVID GOLDMAN/ASSOCIATED PRESS
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    People stand in front of one of the many burning buildings in Ferguson, Mo. on November 24, 2014.
    IMAGE: SAMUEL CORUM/ANADOLU AGENCY/GETTY IMAGES
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    Police gather on the street as protesters react after the announcement of the grand jury decision.
    IMAGE: CHARLIE RIEDEL/ASSOCIATED PRESS
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    Police guard the Ferguson police department as rioting erupts in Ferguson, Mo.
    IMAGE: SCOTT OLSON/GETTY IMAGES
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    Protesters run for shelter as smoke fills the streets in Ferguson, Mo.
    IMAGE: DAVID GOLDMAN/ASSOCIATED PRESS
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    Cars burn at a dealership Tuesday, Nov. 25, 2014, in Dellwood, Mo.
    IMAGE: CHARLIE RIEDEL/ASSOCIATED PRESS
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    Protesters ride around after the announcement of the grand jury decision Monday, Nov. 24, 2014, in Ferguson, Mo. A
    IMAGE: DAVID GOLDMAN/ASSOCIATED PRESS
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    Hundreds of protesters gather after an announcement that Ferguson police officer Darren Willson will not be indicted in the fatal shooting of unarmed teenager Michael Brown.
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    A burning building during protests in Ferguson.
    IMAGE: SAMUEL CORUM/ANADOLU AGENCY/GETTY IMAGES
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    People watch as stores burn Tuesday, Nov. 25, 2014, in Ferguson, Mo.
    IMAGE: (AP PHOTO/DAVID GOLDMAN)/ASSOCIATED PRESS
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    Firemen extinguish a burning business during rioting on November 25, 2014 in Dellwood, Missouri.
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    Ferguson firefighters survey rubble at a strip mall that was set on fire when rioting erupted following the grand jury announcement in the Michael Brown case.
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    A sign sits amidst rubble at a building that was damaged during a demonstration on November 25, 2014 in Dellwood, Missouri.
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    A reporter looks through the window of a laundromat that was damaged during a demonstration on November 25, 2014 in Dellwood, Missouri.
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    Property manager Terri Willits looks over a gas station she manages that was set on fire when rioting erupted following the grand jury announcement in the Michael Brown case on November 25, 2014 in Dellword Missouri.
    IMAGE: SCOTT OLSON/GETTY IMAGES




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