Warren Accuses Police Officer Cleared by Obama’s DOJ of Murdering Michael Brown

August 10, 2019 Updated: August 10, 2019

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) claimed on Aug. 9 that a police officer “murdered” Michael Brown, despite the Department of Justice ruling that the shooting was justified since Brown was attacking the officer.

“Five years ago Michael Brown was murdered by a white police officer in Ferguson, Missouri. Michael was unarmed yet he was shot 6 times,” Warren, a Democratic presidential candidate, wrote on Twitter.

“I stand with activists and organizers who continue the fight for justice for Michael. We must confront systemic racism and police violence head on.”

Brown, 18, was shot by police officer Darren Wilson in Ferguson, Missouri, outside St. Louis on Aug. 9, 2014. Brown was said to have his hands raised, inspiring a number of activists, politicians, and media outlets to spread a “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot” narrative.

The shooting also led to riots across the city.

Warren’s claim that Wilson “murdered” Brown was found to be false by the Department of Justice during the Obama administration after medical examiners’ reports showed that, in contrast to the prevailing narrative, Brown was shot in the front not the back of his body.

“Darren Wilson has stated his intent in shooting Michael Brown was in response to a perceived deadly threat. The only possible basis for prosecuting Wilson under section would therefore be if the government could prove that his account is not true—i.e., that Brown never assaulted Wilson at the SUV, never attempted to gain control of Wilson’s gun, and thereafter clearly surrendered in a way that no reasonable officer could have failed to perceive,” the department wrote in a 2015 report (pdf) detailing the probe into what happened.

“Given that Wilson’s account is corroborated by physical evidence and that his perception of a threat posed by Brown is corroborated by other eyewitnesses, to include aspects of the testimony of Witness 101, there is no credible evidence that Wilson willfully shot Brown as he was attempting to surrender or was otherwise not posing a threat. Even if Wilson was mistaken in his interpretation of Brown’s conduct, the fact that others interpreted that conduct the same way as Wilson precludes a determination that he acted with a bad purpose to disobey the law.”

A group of protesters gather at the memorial for Michael Brown Jr. at Canfield Apartments in Ferguson, Mo., on March 13, 2015. (Michael B. Thomas/AFP/Getty Images)
A group of protesters gather at the memorial for Michael Brown at Canfield Apartments in Ferguson, Mo., on March 13, 2015. (Michael B. Thomas/AFP/Getty Images)
Demonstrators lay on the ground in a mock death protest of the shooting death of Michael Brown by a Ferguson police officer in St. Louis, Missouri on Nov. 16, 2014. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Earlier in the report, investigators said that because Wilson was assaulted by Brown before the shooting, he could say he reasonably feared he would be assaulted again.

“Even assuming that Wilson definitively knew that Brown was not armed, Wilson was aware that Brown had already assaulted him once and attempted to gain control of his gun. Wilson could thus present evidence that he reasonably feared that, if left unimpeded, Brown would again assault Wilson, again attempt to overpower him, and again attempt to take his gun,” they wrote.

“Under the law, Wilson has a strong argument that he was justified in firing his weapon at Brown as he continued to advance toward him and refuse commands to stop, and the law does not require Wilson to wait until Brown was close enough to physically assault Wilson. Even if, with hindsight, Wilson could have done something other than shoot Brown, the Fourth Amendment does not second-guess a law enforcement officer’s decision on how to respond to an advancing threat. The law gives great deference to officers for their necessarily split-second judgments, especially in incidents such as this one that unfold over a span of less than two minutes.”

Follow Zachary on Twitter: @zackstieber
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