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Why Michael Brown's Legal Team Is Winning the PR War as Prosecutor, Accused Cop Sit Out

Categories: Michael Brown

crump2.jpg
Jessica Lussenhop
The parents of Michael Brown (center) with attorney Benjamin Crump (right) at a news conference last week.
As they've done on multiple occasions throughout the past week, the attorneys representing the family of Michael Brown held a televised news conference yesterday. And this one revealed a bigger bombshell than most.

Standing at a podium alongside an independent medical examiner retained by the family, attorney Benjamin Crump divulged that the eighteen-year-old Brown had been shot at least six times, with the fatal blow entering the top of his skull.

"It verifies the worst that the family thinks happened -- that he was executed," Crump told reporters.

Quoting Brown's mother, Lesley McSpadden, Crump continued: "What else do they need to arrest the killer of my child?"

In the court of public opinion, the Brown legal team had scored another victory, leading many to actually consider McFadden's question: Why is St. Louis County Prosecutor Bob McCulloch taking so long to bring an indictment against Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson? And for that matter, why has the public not heard any explanation for the killing from officer Wilson?

Legal experts say there's a sound reason as to why both questions aren't being answered.

See all Riverfront Times coverage of Michael Brown and Ferguson.

"This is not an easy case, even if prosecutors didn't have all the distractions of the media, the protests and everything else," says Matt Schelp, a former federal prosecutor and now a defense attorney with the St. Louis-based Husch Blackwell. "They are having to weigh the results of the autopsy, toxicology, witness statements and ballistics. Really, the timeline so far is pretty normal."

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Jessica Lussenhop
The scene on Canfield Drive where Brown was shot and killed August 9.
Moreover, given the publicity surrounding the case, Schelp says prosecutors are going to take even more time than usual to "leave no stone unturned" before delivering evidence to a grand jury. And should he publicly weigh in on the matter too early, McCulloch could risk tainting the grand jury -- effectively sabotaging the case from the start.

At his lone news conference about Michael Brown last week, McCulloch said that it would take at least two weeks before he presented the case to a grand jury. As for any evidence his team has collected along the way, it would come out at trial -- or in one fell swoop if no indictment is made. McCulloch has made no other public statement about the case since then.

Update: McCulloch's spokesman Edward Magee confirmed Tuesday afternoon that prosecutors will present their case to grand jury beginning Wednesday.

Meanwhile, the escalating unrest continues in Ferguson. Last night 31 people were arrested and two were protesters shot during the demonstrations.

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Danny Wicentowski
Rev. Jesse Jackson is one of several civil-rights leaders who've come to St. Louis to join protesters seeking justice.
"I think if they had very early been given more information as to what their investigation is showing, there wouldn't be the same level of public protest," says Marcia McCormick, a criminal-law professor at Saint Louis University who believes McCulloch's team could be somewhat more open about the case. Still, it's unlikely that the limited information the team is able to release would satisfy those demanding answers.

"This is an unusual case because most times when someone is killed, the police are controlling the narrative. They are the ones that report the news to the media," notes McCormick.

"Here, the lawyers for the Brown family are controlling the narrative, and they've taken strong steps to do that in an environment that is primed for a story about structural injustice and racial profiling," says McCormick. "That seems especially true in social media, where the story fits into a narrative that people already have in their heads."

But just as social media is coming out in support of the Brown family, so, too, is social media coming to the defense of his accused killer. There now exist multiple Facebook pages, such as Support Officer Darren Wilson. And since his name was made public Friday, several unnamed sources have come out with what they claim is crucial information justifying the shooting.

One of the most popular versions of that story line came when an anonymous caller claiming to be a close friend of Darren Wilson dialed into Dana Loesch's radio show on KFTK (91.7 FM). The woman told Loesch that Brown punched the officer in the face as he was in his patrol car. When Wilson gave chase, Brown allegedly turned and charged on him before being felled by bullets.

Another purported clue being pushed by Wilson's defenders came by way of a cell-phone video taken at the scene moments after the shooting in which a witness can be overheard giving a somewhat similar account as the radio caller.

Thumbnail image for jacksonpresser.jpg
Chad Garrison
At a news conference six days after the killing, Ferguson Police Chief Tom Jackson revealed that Brown had been involved in a robbery moments before his death.
Yet notably absent from any defense of Wilson thus far is actual testimony from the officer. Ferguson police have stated that the officer shot Brown only after the teenager tried to grab his gun and physically assaulted him. Other than that, little is known about the accused cop, and it's likely he'll remain silent so long as charges are not filed.

"He doesn't really need to publicly say anything at this point, and some would argue that the Ferguson police are doing that for him," says McCormick, referencing the way the police department last Friday released news of Brown's alleged involvement in a "strong-arm" robbery of a convenience store moments before his run-in with Wilson.

"Assuming he didn't plead the Fifth, he's gotten his information to the people who matter -- the police, the investigators, the FBI," adds attorney Matt Schelp. "There are ways to get Wilson's version of the story out there. I've read versions of the events that supposedly came from his friends. If I were his attorney, I'd much rather that information get out independently as opposed to having my client out there."

"Ultimately, what he wants is to not be charged," concludes Schelp. "If that happens, he won. The PR battle doesn't matter."

Contact the author at chad.garrison@riverfronttimes or on Twitter at


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88 comments
johnvprice
johnvprice

The public and press for some reason immediately assumed bad cop.  Evidence still coming in and we will eventually know the facts.  In the meantime, I believe Ferguson has received a mortal wound from the rioting and looting.  Many insurance policies do not cover civil unrest and some of those businesses will be gone, creating a downward spiral.

Dominick Rodgers
Dominick Rodgers

Nall Donny ..we use them to smoke your weed.wtf i got three kids bi racial so u will love for people like u ever touch them i hate rednecks and you're one yea u

Kelly Reed-Burke
Kelly Reed-Burke

If you assault an officer and effect his vision in the process, just know that the first 4/5 shots in the no kill zone are a COURTESY! CLEAR OFFICER WILSON ASAP!!!! And for all those wanting dash cams, why don't you donate a month of your food stamps or offer to donate in effort to absorb costs from all of the tax money now being wasted to protect cops from urine being thrown at them during peaceful protests, and money spent for officers making OT on little sleep because they are needed as adult babysitters round the clock for your sad selves? Yeah, don't want them that bad do ya?

Nicholle Angeline Gorno-Law
Nicholle Angeline Gorno-Law

Why is it a PR battle? How about the FACTS??? mike brown's dad made it clear he wants the violence to continue. WHY?? The apple didn't fall far from the tree. Media is feeding the beast!! STOP WATCHING!!!!! DONE!!!!

Steve Mincer
Steve Mincer

or maybe he wants to be charged and found not guilty so he can tell these people to suck it.

Kolin Edwards
Kolin Edwards

Yep reading the comments its sad on how doomed Amerikkka is the world is watching and dont want any part of you anymore time will tell I hope for the best in the end for a place with two realities of living sad so sad we trying to save other countries and have major major issues right here not just race ones that's just a tip of it all but a major factor

Erik Olsen
Erik Olsen

When your boss does not want you and your brothers to be recorded during your shift so he does not get sued, you already lost the PR war. Thanks, Chief... #DashCamGate

Scott Johnson
Scott Johnson

? The cop did what he trained to do. The guy attacked him and kept coming at him... White black blue brown yellow red.. It doesn't matter, you're going to get shot. And they will keep shooting until you go down. Plain and simple. And now that the only witness that was credible against the police's story has completely back tracked and now admits he was lying.. There's no case, it's open and shut.

Donny Cox
Donny Cox

Officer Darren Wilson shouldn't be charged!! Why should he? For doing his job? I guess what your saying is let the strong armed robber get away with what he done?? Whatever!! That cop wasn't doing the robbery!! What was the strong armed robber going use those cigars 4?? Blunts maybe to smoke weed!?!?!?!?

Tim Stewart
Tim Stewart

The problem for witnesses coming forward is snitches get stitches...it was so eloquently put out there on the QT that first night of rioting.

Tim Stewart
Tim Stewart

Yeah, the entire narrative the family has put out is dissolved at this point. Highly doubt the grand jury charges him wth anything.

Tanya Christmann
Tanya Christmann

Yes I have been on this page a few days now. I love the support and no trashing is aloud.

Mary Watson
Mary Watson

Support Officer Darren Wilson.......you can do it here

Jim Phillips
Jim Phillips

Wilson is in deep trouble I would bet. I wouldn't want to be him.

Rhonda Miller Crocker
Rhonda Miller Crocker

I hope True Justice is served, continuing my Prayers for PEACE for EVERYONE! R.I.P. Mike Brown. Bless the REST of us dealing with your actions!

Rick Firestein
Rick Firestein

Thug deserved every bullet...and a kick in the head!

Blake Harris
Blake Harris

Furguson is really going to burn when they don't indict him.. They don't want facts, just a good ole lynching.

Julie Usselton Davis
Julie Usselton Davis

"What else do they need to arrest the killer of my child" Seriously!!!! Your child charged a police officer with intent to harm him a second time (fractures to his face) if your child would have been taught respect for law enforcement he may still be alive !!!!

Trish Siems
Trish Siems

this officer will NOT be arrested...get over it! RFT you lost a long time reader...

Mike McClanahan
Mike McClanahan

Keep fighting, folks. Then we'll never get to the men behind the curtain calling the shots.

Nate Reaves
Nate Reaves

Murderer. Plain and simple. Bring on the grand jury.

Roy Johnson
Roy Johnson

RFT stands with the gang responsible for the violence.

Brand Nu Young K
Brand Nu Young K

He should be Jailed , Murder# unarmed 18 year old young man

Timothy Burch
Timothy Burch

We have enough facts to clear this officer. Bad choices lead to bad results! Brown was not a gentle giant. He was a typical thug monster.

Mark Sallee
Mark Sallee

Cory and Gabby...learn to read...Christopher never said he saw it, he only stayed that the question should Be was he trying to surrender and when did the last fatal bullet strike him.

Timothy Burch
Timothy Burch

They don't want to hear the truth. Take no responsibility for actions that lead to this death. The ignorance is so fuelled up. This officer was forced to stop him. I have seen enough facts to clear this officer. And none have to do with his race.

Cindy Graham Dierkes
Cindy Graham Dierkes

What choice do they have???? They cant come forward and if you do support Wilson, who knows what will happen to you!!! This is scary and dumb and putting the entire city in danger....BUT you all are worried about what McCullough and Wilson are doing....E X A C T L Y what they should be doing??? THEIR JOBS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! You know...what those business owners in Ferguson would LOVE to do!!!

Lisa Landrum Troxler
Lisa Landrum Troxler

why has no one asked for the street tapes for red light - would that not TELL the story of what happened (no sound) but we would see TRUE movement of the situation ?

Shaniqua
Shaniqua

Do the hipster reporto-bloggers at RFT know the difference between PR and verifiable evidence?

Rhonda Miller Crocker
Rhonda Miller Crocker

YES, Tamika ,, I AM proud, and SO FAR from RACIST, I have Several Black Friends(that are like my family),,I DO have Black race great nephews, , I DON'T CARE IF YOU OR THEY ARE BLUE WITH POLKA DOTS,, it's their behavior and their EXCUSE!! No Respect for the young man or his family, ,, actually NO RESPECT for themselves, , COLOR is a SAD reason,,, WE ARE ALL HUMANS,,OUR CHILDREN are watching and learning,, this is Terrible! I pray for PEACE,, I'm sorry if I offended you or anyone else, , but I did turn my lights off and candle lit for this young man,, may he R.I.P, , in PEACE people, ,If we do NOT come together soon,, it's ONLY going to get worse. Peace Tamika, and have a lovely day.

Genia Ackworth
Genia Ackworth

Why would Wilson speak out now before the grand jury convenes? Makes no sense to me.

Stephanie Thorsten
Stephanie Thorsten

He was a big dude, 6'4", 300#(?). Add negative street mentality with a disregard to authority, adrenaline from just robbing a store, law enforcement approaching him, Mike not knowing that Officer Wilson didn't know, and it will/did take more than just one shot to slow him down. Speaking from experience, I was shot/stabbed in the leg, during a rape at 15yrs old, and I got away and took off running....pure adrenaline rush, no doubt.

Chris Davis
Chris Davis

Once again pulling out the race card before anyone knows all the true facts! And once again you are all made to look stupid. Just can't fix stupid!

Laura Nahn Duffin
Laura Nahn Duffin

why is this a PR war? what kinda shit is that? why are you making it an "Us Against Them" battle? And how the fuck do you know what the Wilson family wants?

Donna Glass
Donna Glass

BREAKING REPORT: Officer Darren Wilson Suffered “Orbital Blowout Fracture to Eye Socket” During Mike Brown Attack

LOLOLOL
LOLOLOL

You should volunteer at a food bank, DUMMY.  

LOLOLOL
LOLOLOL

I THINK YOU MIGHT JUST BE THE BIGGEST MORON OF ALL.  CONGRATULATIONS!

LOLOLOL
LOLOLOL

YEP, LOOK OUT FOR THAT STRONG ARM!  TOTALLY NEED 6 BULLETS AGAINST AN ARM AND CIGARS!  DUMMY.

jaco1175
jaco1175 topcommenter

I bet you are wrong, but go ahead and follow the narrative set by the RFT and all the hipsters, anarchists and the rest of the dildos who reside in backwardsville. The RFT can't even get a fucking movie or music review right what makes you think they would know what the fuck they are talking about when it comes to current affairs?

rjhbrpd
rjhbrpd

Well Said!  How sad that the message is not to teach your children better.

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