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Even DOJ Admits: “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot” An Utter Lie

Even DOJ Admits: “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot” An Utter Lie

Progressives desperately claiming Ferguson protests never really about Wilson’s shooting of Brown

Perhaps the single most potent piece of political theatre to emerge from the Ferguson MO shooting of Mike Brown by Police Officer Darren Wilson was the meme of “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot.” The “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot” meme was based on the false claim by Dorian Johnson that Brown had his hands raised in surrender when Wilson shot him.  A handful of other purported witnesses–none of whom were ultimately deemed sufficiently credible to warrant either criminal or civil rights charges against Wilson–soon parroted the claim.

Protestors were quick to adopt the meme en masse, gesticulating with their hands above their shoulders while chanting the phrase.  Even US Congressmen speaking in the House chamber prominently mimicked the same motions:


Indeed, there was even an amateurish movie centered on this meme, appropriately titled “The Movie: Hands Up, Don’t Shoot.”  Here’s a taste of the movie’s credulous depiction of the hilariously fabricated “witness statements” on which this false meme was based, and the manner in which the meme nevertheless dominated the public consciousness of the shooting:

Now, from no lesser authority than the United States Department of Justice, we know for a certainty that it was a lie from start to end, as noted by Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly. Particularly amusing is the retrograde effort of the liberal guest to claim that Ferguson was never really about “Hands up, don’t shoot” and Wilson’s shooting of Brown, but rather were over allegations that the Ferguson Police Department in general (not Wilson in particular, nor in his interaction with Brown) was racist:

Of course, we didn’t actually need the DOJ report to debunk the “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot” lie, as anyone who bothered to fairly consider the evidence knew it was all nonsense the moment the witness statements from the Grand Jury proceeding were released in late November.  For evidence of this, we need look no further than Megyn Kelly once again, this time in a broadcast from way back on December 3, 2014:

Fortunately for Wilson, a great many other witnesses described how an enraged 300-lb Brown, after attacking Wilson and getting shot in the hand attempting to grab the officer’s service pistol, refused to comply with Wilson’s lawful efforts to place him under arrest, lowered his head, and charged at Wilson’s drawn pistol.

This narrative of Brown as the aggressor and Wilson as the lawful defender was fully supported by the forensic evidence, in sharp contrast to the “hands up” narrative which lacked any forensic support whatever.

As a result, the Grand Jury empaneled to consider criminal charges against Wilson declined to do so this past November, and just this week the Department of Justice declined to bring any civil rights charges against Wilson citing an utter lack of credible evidence.

The DOJ report (embedded in our earlier post Darren Wilson Cleared by DOJ of Civil Rights Violations ) particularly noted the lack of credible evidence for the “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot” meme (page 8):

Although there are several individuals who have stated that Brown held his hands up in an unambiguous sign of surrender prior to Wilson shooting him dead, their accounts do not support a prosecution of Wilson. As detailed throughout this report, some of those accounts are inaccurate because they are inconsistent with the physical and forensic evidence; some of those accounts are materially inconsistent with that witness’s own prior statements with no explanation, credible for otherwise, as to why those accounts changed over time. Certain other witnesses who originally stated Brown had his hands up in surrender recanted their original accounts, admitting that they did not witness the shooting or parts of it, despite what they initially reported either to federal or local law enforcement or to the media. Prosecutors did not rely on those accounts when making a prosecutive decision.

While credible witnesses gave varying accounts of exactly what Brown was doing with his hands as he moved toward Wilson – i.e., balling them, holding them out, or pulling up his pants up – and varying accounts of how he was moving – i.e., “charging,” moving in “slow motion,” or “running” – they all establish that Brown was moving toward Wilson when Wilson shot him. Although some witnesses state that Brown held his hands up at shoulder level with his palms facing outward for a brief moment, these same witnesses describe Brown then dropping his hands and “charging” at Wilson.

The report also noted the complete inadequacy of evidence necessary and appropriate to bring charges of any sort against Darren Wilson under the American standards of jurisprudence  (page 10):

Applying the well-established controlling legal authority, including binding precedent from the United States Supreme Court and Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals, the evidence does not establish that it was unreasonable for Wilson to perceive Brown as a threat while Brown was punching and grabbing him in the SUV and attempting to take his gun. Thereafter, when Brown started to flee, Wilson was aware that Brown had attempted to take his gun and suspected that Brown might have been part of a theft a few minutes before. Under the law, it was not unreasonable for Wilson to perceive that Brown posed a threat of serious physical harm, either to him or to others. When Brown turned around and moved toward Wilson, the applicable law and evidence do not support finding that Wilson was unreasonable in his fear that Brown would once again attempt to harm him and gain control of his gun. There are no credible witness accounts that state that Brown was clearly attempting to surrender when Wilson shot him. As detailed throughout this report, those witnesses who say so have given accounts that could not be relied upon in a prosecution because they are irreconcilable with the physical evidence, inconsistent with the credible accounts of other eyewitnesses, inconsistent with the witness’s own prior statements, or in some instances, because the witnesses have acknowledged that their initial accounts were untrue.

Of course, let us not forget the icing on the cake:  Mike Brown’s mother is still facing criminal charges for her alleged attack upon another Brown relative who was selling memorabilia of the shooting from the side of the road:  Report: Mike Brown’s Mother Facing Potential Robbery Charges in #Ferguson

–-Andrew, @LawSelfDefense

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Andrew F. Branca is an MA lawyer and the author of the seminal book “The Law of Self Defense, 2nd Edition,” available at the Law of Self Defense blog (autographed copies available) and (paperback and Kindle). He also holds Law of Self Defense Seminars around the country, and provides free online self-defense law video lectures at the Law of Self Defense Institute and podcasts through iTunes, Stitcher, and elsewhere.


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Maybe those black congressmen are just moved by the Spirit?

“Particularly amusing is the retrograde effort of the liberal guest to claim that Ferguson was never really about “Hands up, don’t shoot” and Wilson’s shooting of Brown, but rather were over allegations that the Ferguson Police Department in general (not Wilson in particular, nor in his interaction with Brown) was racist…” These guys just make it all up on the fly, don’t they?

    Gremlin1974 in reply to MikeE. | March 5, 2015 at 5:07 pm

    Check out the look on Dana’s face when the liberal bobble head is trying to trot out that line of crap. Dana’s expression is just priceless.

    Deodorant in reply to MikeE. | March 7, 2015 at 12:12 am

    The Ferguson Police Dept and government are racist. There is absolutely no doubt about that. The fact that protests erupted over after this particular shooting doesn’t mean that the protests were specifically about this killing anymore than the Boston Tea Party was about tea.

    Let me see if I understand this. You people hate when governments infringe on liberties, but you don’t mind it when the people being infringed upon are black. Nope, no racism here.

    “In one example after another, the report described a city that used its police and courts as moneymaking ventures, a place where officers stopped and handcuffed people without probable cause, hurled racial slurs, used stun guns without provocation, and treated anyone as suspicious merely for questioning police tactics.”

    “Their report described a city where police officers did not know the law or did not bother to follow it. Internal documents showed Ferguson police officers conducting “pedestrian checks,” in which they stopped people walking down the street and demanded to see their identification without any probable cause.”

    “Blacks in Ferguson accounted for 85 percent of traffic stops, 90 percent of tickets and 93 percent of arrests over a two-year period studied by investigators. In cases like jaywalking, which often hinge on police discretion, blacks accounted for 95 percent of those charged. A black motorist in Ferguson was twice as likely to be searched, according to the report, even though searches of whites turned up drugs and other contraband more often.”

    “In July 2013, when officers arrived at an apartment building to arrest a suspect, they found an African-American man in the parking lot. The officers knew he was not the man they were looking for. “Nonetheless, without even reasonable suspicion, they handcuffed the man, placed him in the back of a patrol car, and ran his record,” the Justice Department found.

    It turned out, he was the building’s landlord and he helped officers enter the building to make the arrest. The police department defended the detention as “minimal,” noting that the car was air-conditioned.”

    All the cop had to due was tell the guy to get on the sidewalk.

    You guys are a cult. Even in a situation where there is overwhelming evidence of racism and malfeasance, you can’t admit anything. It is sickening to read the delusional junk posted here.

off topic…. why no scotus watch here at my favorite and only legal blog?

    Ragspierre in reply to Andy. | March 5, 2015 at 4:29 pm

    That’s a very readable piece on one of the family of really terrible rulings by the Supremes in the last century.

    Hopefully, it won’t play any part in the case under consideration, since a majority consulted a legislative poltergeist instead of reading what the legislature wrote in crystal clear language.

      MarkS in reply to Ragspierre. | March 5, 2015 at 9:44 pm

      There’s no mystery here, it will be 5-4 in favor of Obama. The four Libs will do their thing and the three with basic reading comprehension skills will think otherwise which leaves Roberts and Kennedy. If Kennedy votes with the Libs, Roberts, in an effort to regain credibility, will vote with the conservatives, however if Kennedy votes with Scalia, et al, Roberts will fall in line and do as instructed by Obama.

Bitterlyclinging | March 5, 2015 at 3:43 pm

Woulda been another Rodney King level event if it weren’t for the blogs. Thats why Obama wants to seize control of the internet.
All the world would be brought down to the intellectual level of Jessee Watters interviewees on his OReilly Factor Watters World segments.

They are looking pretty foolish right now.

OTOH, “Pants up, don’t loot” still an eternal verity…

Judge Nappy and Shep Smith put themselves WAY out on the “condemn Ferguson” limb.

I’ll be VERY interested to see what Heather MacDonald does with the stats the Do(racial)J used to slime Ferguson PD.

As to the funding of municipal budgets via fines, that is a small town constant in America. Even the idyllic and mythical town of the Jesse Stone novels depends on it. We may all agree that subverting the criminal LEGAL system this way is wrong, but it is ubiquitous. And there AIN’T nothing ray-ciss about it. Even in cursive.

Looks like this is far from over. The Brown family is filing a civil suit for wrongful death. Can we get your coverage on what that means exactly and if there is even a case for this?

    Wilson made the mistake of not shooting Brown in self-defense in Florida.

    I don’t know what else to say about the matter.

    It has always been, and continues to be, my opinion that a robust self-defense immunity law is infinitely more important to self-defense than a stand-your-ground law.

    –Andrew, @LawSelfDefense

      Don’t cops get qualified immunity from civil suits for acts committed in the performance of their jobs unless willful, unreasonable conduct is demonstrated or they acted in an unlawful, unconstitutional, etc, way? So wouldn’t the fact that Wilson was cleared help him there? If not, that’s really a travesty.

      I can see Mike’s peeps suing the City of Ferguson, or at least trying it on — Trayvon’s peeps did that here in Florida against the subdivision he was shot in and came out a million bucks ahead. Given their proclivity to fisticuffs over who gets to profit off young Mr Brown, I’d love to see the Brown family squabbles over that kind of jackpot!

    Ragspierre in reply to Mr. Izz. | March 5, 2015 at 5:07 pm

    On these facts, and with this evidence, I don’t see how it has a prayer.

    I certainly would not file it. But it could turn on an insurance company paying off in settlement, since I think I could beat it without a trial. I don’t see any of the actionable conduct needed, in Texas at least.

      Gremlin1974 in reply to Ragspierre. | March 5, 2015 at 5:10 pm

      Yea, but if Wilson has to pay for his own defense then it will further harm him. Though I am sure the suit will be against the department instead of Wilson personally. That is if the lawyer has any sense what so ever.

        Ragspierre in reply to Gremlin1974. | March 5, 2015 at 5:22 pm

        No, you’d bring suit against both the person and the agency.

        I understand from some rumors that Wilson has a large bit of money that’s been donated to him, and legal costs for him personally would not be huge. Plus, he has a patrolman’s union behind him if I am not confusing him with someone else.

      Rags, remember that the HOA in the Zimmerman case paid out some serious cash pronto in order to have the case dropped? Brown’s lawyers are hoping for a similar result. (Well, they are one and the same) After all, lawyers are pretty pragmatic about how much effort they must expend and how much cash is at stake. The case will be filed and will just die on the vine in about a year or so. They will get some publicity and face time on the news, but after a bit, they will realize there is no pot of gold at the end of the Mike Brown Rainbow.

        Ragspierre in reply to Redneck Law. | March 5, 2015 at 8:04 pm

        Yeeeup. But the insurance carrier for the HOA was likely the party who gave up the danegeld. There call.

        But I see this going about like you suggest.

I’m just glad our elected representatives are displaying to their less educated peers the proper way to respond to a police officer’s request. Perhaps if more young people who encounter law enforcement personnel were to emulate their actions (but not their words), the tragedy of Brown’s child will not be repeated.

We can only hope.

What gets me is after being found not at fault over Brown’s death, Wilson still gets a ride on the Tort Train by Brown’s parents looking for a payday.

When will we ever get decent tort reform? A simple loser pays qualifier will stop a lot of unnecessary and ridiculous suits that only lead to bad law and time wasted by the court.

    Bruce Hayden in reply to jakee308. | March 5, 2015 at 5:00 pm

    Which is why the Florida self-defense immunity statute that AB mentioned would have been helpful to Wilson. From what I saw of the evidence, I think it probable that Wilson could have proven self-defense by a preponderance of the evidence, which is what it takes in Florida for immunity, from both civil and criminal liability (but not from federal prosecution, since the US is a different sovereign).

Sammy Finkelman | March 5, 2015 at 5:08 pm

DOJ didn’t admit that “Hands Up Don’t Shoot” isn’t true.

I mean, you’d really expect them, to say that, and disappoint and maybe even giove a feeling of betrayal to political supporters?

What DOJ said was they couldn’t prove that it was true, and there was evvidence against it being true.

They said other claims were more definitely not true, and that once Wilson had attacked a police officer, which was true, there was no real case after that even if maybe Wilson had made some unclear attempt to surrender.

Sammy Finkelman | March 5, 2015 at 5:11 pm

I mean Michael Brown.

Once Michael Brown had attacked police officer Darren Wilson, which they said was true, there was no real case after that even if maybe Brown had made some unclear attempt to surrender. If he had, it hadn’t been unambigously clear.

Maybe that is saying the Brown family version of events is not true.

inspectorudy | March 5, 2015 at 6:11 pm

I read the DOJ report and they did their best to leave some doubt about what Brown had done but several witnesses were proven to be lying, though DOJ did not call it that, and several unshakeable witnesses verified all that Wilson stated. The only area that they seemed to cast any measure of doubt was the amount of force Wilson used in this circumstance. Even then DOJ used precedent of other cop v thug cases to show that Wilson was clearly in the right once Brown tried to take his gun. Their only wiggle room was how Wilson may have shot Brown in a non lethal area instead of the head. I gathered that the head shot came as Brown lowered his head to slam into Wilson so that was the only target left to him. Case closed!

P.S. Mr Branca: Here’s another Florida self-defense case to keep an eye on!

Florida man claims self-defense in neighbor’s death, drives body to lawyer’s office in back of pick-up truck

“Having a client bring a body to his office was a first.”

AG Eric Holder is nothing short of a racial anarchist. He said we needed to have a conversation about race, but what he meant was whites needed to listen to the black perspective in all things. And then shut up.

Holder had an opportunity to talk to all Americans about obeying the lawful commands of the police, in order to avoid unpleasant results. Instead, he used the power of his office to racially demagogue Officer Wilson in particular, and white police officers in general. He is an anarchist, just as responsible as the mobs who burned and looted Ferguson.

Did anyone catch the NYT headline on this?

The online edition has the reasonable: “Ferguson Report Puts ‘Hands Up’ to Reality Test”

However, the print version goes with: “DIVISION IS SEEN IN INTERPRETING JUSTICE REPORT”
subheadline: “2 SIDES SEE VINDICATION”

That’s right. Nothing to see here. No conclusion for reasonable, nonpartisan folks like us to reach from this. Pay no attention to the facts behind the curtain.

I feel the need to point out that the youtube video of that “Hands Up, Don’t shoot!” movie, which is about 14 minutes long, actually winds up rebutting the idea that Michael Brown had his hands up in surrender mode when he was shot – it takes a while to get there, but towards the end, they actually do say that. I am guessing that most viewers don’t watch it until the end.