Michael Brown shooting: Ten things we know – or know better – now the Ferguson grand jury's work is over

From the time between shots being fired to whether Michael Brown had his hands up, US Editor David Usborne unpicks what happened on the night of 9 August 2014

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The Independent US

1. Hands up: St Louis County prosecutor Bob McCulloch said one of the issues that continued to generate conflicting testimony was whether Mr Brown had his hands up in surrender at any time while shots were being fired at him. Some witnesses said yes, some said no. 'Hands Up,' became the united slogan of protestors. "The description of how Mr Brown raised his hands is not consistent between witnesses," said McCulloch.

2. The contradictions: McCulloch repeatedly said that some witnesses gave contradicting and/or shifting versions of what they thought they saw. Some of those who had said they witnessed the sequence of events first-hand later conceded they had not. Some witnesses "disappeared" when investigators sought to interview them.

3. The trigger: It is now clear 12 shots were fired by Officer Wilson, the last of which struck Mr Brown in the top of the head. He was hit 7 times. The deadly encounter started while Officer Wilson was seated in his police cruiser. The first two shots were fired by the officer while still in the car. Most witnesses said that at that time, Mr Brown was leaning through the driver’s side window. The victim’s blood was found inside and outside the car and on the officer’s clothing. A bullet was lodged in the armrest.

4. Short time, long time: The time between Officer Wilson spotting Mr Brown and the last shot being fired was 90 seconds. The time Mr Brown's body was left lying on the street: 4 hours.

5. Outside the car: Ten of the twelve shots were fired after Officer Wilson got out of his cruiser. Mr Brown’s body was found 153 feet away. All the fatal shots were fired when Mr Brown was away from the police car. While some witnesses said he was fleeing the car when they were fired, a greater number of witnesses said they came as the victim was moving towards the officer, McCulloch said.


Police in riot gear move past a vehicle that continues to burn on the street in Ferguson

Police in riot gear tangle with a woman in front of emergency vehicles in Ferguson Missouri

6. Cigarillos: McCulloch indicated that Officer Wilson was aware of a report of a “strong-arm” robbery at a nearby corner shop when he spotted him and another man walking down the centre of a street and challenged them from his car and had connected them with that incident. Cigarillos had been stolen; Brown was carrying cigarillos. Police earlier said he had not connected the men with the robbery.

7. Struggle: Along with the pages and pages of testimony the grand jury that were released last night by the prosecutors there are also pictures, including some taken of the face and neck of Officer Wilson after the shooting during a medical examination. They show redness and swelling, apparently due to a struggle in the car with Brown.

8. Racial profiles: Brown was black, Wilson is white. The grand jury was 75 per cent white, 25 per cent black. St Louis County is 70 per cent white. However, Ferguson is two thirds black.

9.The slog: The grand jury listened to 70 hours of testimony from about 60 witnesses, including three medical examiners. They also heard from Darren Wilson, the officer who fired the shots. It met on 25 separate days.


Michael Brown, 18, was shot and killed in a confrontation with police

Michael Brown's mother Leslie McSpadden (C) and other protesters react after hearing the grand jury decision

10. Not all over: Eric Holder, the US Attorney General, reminded Americans that while the work of the grand jury in St Louis County is done two federal probes remain ongoing.  One could in theory lead to federal charges against Officer Wilson, though that seems unlikely. The second is a much broader inquiry into whether Ferguson police are guilty of a pattern of discriminatory behaviour.