By Ayana Archie
A new documentary surrounding the 2014 death of Michael Brown includes previously unreleased footage of Brown’s altercation at a local convenience store shortly before his death.
The new evidence casts doubt that Brown robbed the store.
Filmmaker Jason Pollock released the documentary Stranger Fruit over the weekend at Austin’s SXSW festival. The new footage occurs at 1:14 a.m. on Aug. 9, the day of Brown’s death, in which he was shot multiple times by Officer Darren Wilson of the Ferguson, Missouri police department.
The video shows an exchange between Brown and one of three people behind the counter of the Ferguson Market & Liquor. One of the men sniffs the package Brown gives him, leading Pollock to believe it was marijuana. Another man then bags up and gives Brown several boxes of cigarillos. Brown is about to leave the store with the bag of cigarillos, but immediately turns around and returns them to the clerk, who re-shelves the items.
The Ferguson police said the new surveillance footage is unimportant to their investigation of the shooting, as it does not correlate to the altercation between Brown and Wilson.
However, in 2014, Wilson testified that he was responding to a report of a robbery at the same convenience store, which led him to stop Brown and his friend in the first place.
The video that was released by police in 2014 was Brown’s return to the store at around noon later that day. Brown is shown reaching behind the counter and taking the cigarillos. A store employee tries to stop him from leaving, and Brown pushes him away and walks out.
The latter video was used to paint the teenager as dangerous, and the narrative largely became that Brown should be held accountable for his unruly actions that led to his death.
In a March 2015 investigation of Ferguson’s criminal justice system, the Department of Justice found the police department and the courts had repeatedly made constitutional violations and that officers often used racial slurs, made stops without probable cause, used stun guns without motivation and often labeled residents as suspicious if their tactics were questioned.
The report said the only solution would be a complete overhaul of the system.
St. Louis Prosecuting Attorney Robert McCullough called Pollock’s claims “just stupid.” He said Pollock’s omission of the clerk putting the items back on the shelf in his documentary was a result of “a very poor job of editing” and suggest that no exchange was made between Brown and the employees.
Jay Kanzler, the lawyer representing the employees of the Ferguson Market, has also rebutted the claims and said he would release the unedited footage.
Featured Photo Credit: Courtesy of WikiCommons.
Ayana Archie is a freshman journalism major and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.