A new video that appears to show the immediate aftermath of Michael Brown’s shooting death in Ferguson, Missouri on August 9 corroborates earlier witness statements that the unarmed black teenager was surrendering to Officer Darren Wilson when he was killed.
The footage, released by CNN on Thursday, shows two construction workers reacting to the shooting with shock and yelling out, “He had his fucking hands in the air!”
The men told CNN they were about 50 feet away from Wilson when he opened fire. “The cop didn’t say get on the ground. He just kept shooting,” one said, adding that he saw Brown “staggering” and putting his hands in the air, saying, “OK, OK, OK.”
The video was filmed by a third unidentified witness. The footage also appears to show a police officer in the distance beginning to put up crime scene tape as the men in the foreground react.
The video and the accounts from the men match earlier descriptions of the incident from other witnesses, as well as an audio recording of the gunshots, recently verified by the messaging service that captured it, that indicated Wilson fired much more than six times, as was initially reported.
Other witnesses who have come forward to give their accounts have described similar scenes, saying that Wilson first shot at Brown while the teenager was running away, and then continued firing even after he turned around and began to walk back.
A man who spoke with the St. Louis Post Dispatch over the weekend said he and his coworker spoke with Brown for some time on the morning of August 9, shortly before the shooting, when Brown approached them after hearing one curse after striking a tree root while working on the construction site. While it is unclear whether that witness is one of the men in the video, various details in their statements suggest that it is possible.
The Post Dispatch writes:
[The witness] previously told KTVI (Channel 2) that he had uttered a profanity in frustration after hitting a tree root while digging. Brown heard him and stopped to talk.
Brown “told me he was feeling some bad vibes,” the co-worker told KTVI in a video that aired Aug. 12. “That the Lord Jesus Christ would help me through that as long as I didn’t get all angry at what I was doing.” …
About a half-hour later, the worker heard a gunshot. Then he saw Brown running away from a police car. Wilson trailed about 10 to 15 feet behind, gun in hand. About 90 feet away from the car, the worker said, Wilson fired another shot at Brown, whose back was turned.
The worker said Brown stumbled and then stopped, put his hands up, turned around and said, “OK, OK, OK, OK, OK.” He said he told investigators from the St. Louis County police and the FBI that because of the stumble, it seemed to him that Brown had been wounded.
A grand jury is still considering the facts of the case. Wilson, who has not been arrested and remains on administrative leave, could be charged with murder or manslaughter — or face nothing.
Mark Geragos, a legal analyst and criminal defense attorney, called the video a “game changer,” in part because the witnesses were outsiders and not connected to Brown or the community of Ferguson, and in part because they are white.
“You now have some witnesses who the majority of this grand jury are going to better relate to. I hate to say it, but that's the reality of it, and that's why it's a game changer to me," Geragos said.
Other analysts have said the race of the witnesses is less important. Sunny Hostin, a former federal prosecutor, said that the key detail is that the men saw Brown with his hands up.
“The bottom line is having your hands up is the universal sign for surrender,” Hostin said.
Watch the video below: