A newly-released surveillance video suggests that police claims that Michael Brown robbed the Ferguson Market before he was fatally shot by St. Louis cop Darren Wilson in 2014 may not be entirely accurate.
This past weekend, filmmaker Jason Pollock debuted his new documentary Stranger Fruit at SXSW, which included surveillance footage of Brown in the store that he allegedly robbed. Pollock claims that the video shows Brown attempting to exchange a small bag of weed for a pack of cigarillos. The footage then shows the store employees returning the bag to Brown, who left the store without the cigarillos.
Police released a surveillance video recorded later that night which showed Brown strong-arming a clerk and leaving with a pack of cigarillos. This video was used as evidence in Wilson's trial to argue that the officer had a legitimate reason to fear Brown. The documentary claims that Brown did not rob the store, but instead returned to pick up the goods he had bartered for. Police did not release this earlier video of the alleged exchange of weed for cigarillos, which Pollock claims was a deliberate attempt at character assassination.
St. Louis County Prosecutor Robert P. McCulloch called the documentary a “pretty pathetic attempt at a video production,” and even claimed that Pollock had altered the footage, and released a version of the same footage that he claims is unedited.
“This is a clear attempt to distort this and turn it into something it isn’t,” the prosecutor said. “There was no transaction, but there certainly was an attempt to barter for these goods, but the store employees had no involvement in that … It’s very clear there was no transaction between Mr. Brown and the store employees and to suggest he’s coming back to get what he bartered for is just stupid.”
The video has re-ignited anger over Brown's shooting, and around 100 people gathered outside the Ferguson Market on Sunday. Several gunshots were heard around midnight, although no one was reportedly shot. Police arrested one man for allegedly stuffing a napkin in the gas tank of a police car and attempting to light it on fire. A 25-year-old woman was also charged with punching a cop in the face and breaking his nose.