FERGUSON, Mo. – The narrative that drew the attention of President Obama and compelled him dispatch Attorney General Eric Holder here continues to unravel.
Nearly two weeks of racially charged protests accompanied by looting, rioting, Molotov cocktails, gunfire, bricks and burned buildings have been fueled by the belief that Officer Darren Wilson shot and killed unarmed, 18-year-old Michael Brown on Aug. 9 as he raised his hands in the air in surrender, only because he was black.
Brown, at 6’4″ and nearly 300 pounds, has been cast as a “gentle giant,” who, according to his uncle, was “too timid” to play football and “had never gotten into a fight in his entire life.”
But along with exposure of the belligerent “gangsta” persona Brown had on social media, key witnesses upon whom the prosecution was relying to convince a grand jury to charge Wilson with murder are changing their stories as evidence emerges that the officer was attacked and severely beaten by Brown, who had marijuana in his system, only minutes after the teen robbed a convenience store.
On Tuesday, a St. Louis radio station, citing a “very connected national media source,” reported Wilson will not be charged. The key testimony is from the Brown family’s star witness, Dorian Johnson, who accompanied Brown when he was shot. Johnson has changed his story, according to the report, and now admits Brown attacked the officer and attempted to take his gun.
As WND was first to report on Aug. 14, Johnson has an outstanding arrest warrant for theft and for making a false report to police.
‘Justice for the deceased man’s family’
According to police, Wilson reported ordering Brown and Johnson, who were walking in the middle of the street, to move to the sidewalk. Amid the confrontation, Wilson heard a radio dispatch reporting the convenience store robbery and realized Brown and Johnson fit the descriptions of the suspects.
Surveillance video of the robbery showed Brown strong-arming a clerk as he stole a box of cigars. The video was released Aug. 15 in response to Freedom of Information Act media requests. An insider told FoxNews.com that Ferguson Police Chief Tom Jackson held off the FOIA requests as long as possible because he wanted Brown’s grieving mother to have the chance to see it first.
But Democrat Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon called the release of the video an attempt “to disparage the character” of Brown, insisting that making it public “in the middle of a process like this is not right.” President Obama’s Justice Department also opposed releasing the video.
Nixon – violating his own demand to stay out of the investigation – added fuel to the fire Tuesday when he called for “justice for the deceased man’s family” and “a vigorous prosecution,” even though Wilson hasn’t been charged.
In a visit to Ferguson Wednesday, Attorney General Eric Holder, who indicated the Justice Department already is conducting a separate investigation, said in a meeting of 50 community leaders he understands why many black Americans distrust the police.
“I understand that mistrust,” Holder said. “I am the attorney general of the United States. But I am also a black man.”
Grand jury convened
A spokesman for St. Louis County Prosecutor Bob McCulloch said Wednesday a grand jury has begun considering evidence to determine whether Wilson should be charged. He said the process could take weeks.
A group of clergy leaders is calling for McCulloch to step aside in favor of a special prosecutor, citing McCulloch's deep family connections to the St. Louis Police Department. His father was killed responding to a call involving a black suspect.
Last week, a video of the shooting scene posted in defense of Brown, showing the teen's body lying in the street, inadvertently captured an account by a witness that supports the officer's claim that Brown doubled back and attacked the officer.
In his original account of the shooting to media, Dorian Johnson said he and Brown were innocently walking down the middle of the street when the officer encountered them.
"We wasn't causing any harm to nobody. We had no weapons on us at all," he said.
Johnson claimed the police officer pulled up in his squad car and said: "Get the 'F' on the sidewalk."
He alleged the officer, from inside his vehicle, "grabbed my friend around the neck" and "was trying to choke my friend." He said the officer then tried to pull Brown into the car, drew his weapon and said, "I'll shoot you."
Johnson said, in the "same moment, the first shot went off."
He said Brown was shot and then he stopped, raising his hands, but the officer continued shooting him.
Dorian Johnson describes the shooting:
In contrast, the police report said Brown pushed the officer into his squad car, assaulted him and struggled to get the officer's weapon. A shot was fired in the car before the struggle moved to the street, where the officer fired his gun multiple times as Brown rushed toward him.
On Wednesday came news that Wilson suffered severe facial injuries and was nearly beaten unconscious by Brown moments before firing his gun, according to a source close to the department's top brass who spoke with FoxNews.com.
The report aligns with Police Chief Jackson's Aug. 13 announcement that Wilson was treated at a hospital for facial swelling.
More than a dozen witnesses have supported Wilson's account, police sources reportedly told St. Louis Post-Dispatch reporter Christine Byers.
A woman named "Josie," who said she was Wilson's friend, called TheBlaze TV host Dana Loesch’s radio show Friday and said Brown “bum-rushed” Wilson moments after pushing him into his squad car, punching him in the face and trying to grab the officer's gun.
“Michael and his friend turn around. And Michael taunts him," Josie said. " … And then all of a sudden, he just started bum-rushing him. He just started coming at him full speed. And so he just started shooting. And he just kept coming. And so [Wilson] really thinks [Brown] was on something. The final shot was in the forehead, and then he fell about two or three feet in front of the officer.”
Official county autopsy results released Aug. 15 concluded Brown, indeed, was "on something," with marijuana found in his system.
The autopsy also showed Brown was shot at least six times from the front, which supports claims he was running toward the officer.
A video featured by the ConservativeTreehouse.com blog captured a description of the incident by an apparent black male eyewitness, who was speaking to someone who had arrived later on the scene as Brown's body lay in the street.
"How’d he get from there to there?" the witness was asked.
"Because he ran, the police was still in the truck – 'cause he was like over the truck. … But him and the police was both in the truck, then he ran – the police got out and ran after him.
"Then the next thing I know, he doubled back toward him 'cause – the police had his gun drawn already on him"
The onlooker asked: "Oh, the police got his gun?"
"The police kept dumpin’ on him, and I’m thinking the police kept missing – he like, be like, but he kept coming toward him," the witness said.
A former high-school classmate and hockey buddy has come to Wilson's defense, FoxNews.com reported, contending in interviews the 28-year-old officer harbors no racial animus and would never maliciously take a life.
Jake Shepard said Wilson, describing him as shy, has "been struggling a little bit" since the shooting.
"He didn't really want to talk much about it," Shepard, also 28, said of Brown's death. "But I can tell you for sure it was not racially motivated. He's not the type of person to harbor any hate for anybody. He was always nice, respectable and well-mannered, a gentleman. He doesn't have anything bad to say about anybody, ever. He's very genuine."