Democratic presidential contender Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) declined to apologize or retract a statement widely condemned as false and said that people are focusing on the wrong thing.
The Department of Justice during the Obama administration ruled that the 2014 shooting was justified, and Warren’s claim was criticized by many, including police chiefs in her home state.
When asked about the tweet, instead of backing down, Warren told a crowd in New Hampshire on Aug. 14: “What matters is that a man was shot, an unarmed man, in the middle of the street by police officers and left to die. And I think that’s where our focus should be.”
Warren isn’t the only 2020 candidate to have made the claim.
Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) and billionaire Tom Steyer also have suggested Brown was shot unnecessarily.
“Michael Brown’s murder forever changed Ferguson and America. His tragic death sparked a desperately needed conversation and a nationwide movement. We must fight for stronger accountability and racial equity in our justice system,” Harris wrote on Aug. 9. She hasn’t given an update on her thoughts on the situation.
Steyer’s comment was more pointed. “The worst part about Michael Brown’s death, five years later? His killer still walks free,” he wrote of Wilson.
“In Missouri, a Class A felony like murder doesn’t have any statute of limitations. A prosecutor could still file charges—if they wanted to,” Steyer added.
Michael Brown’s murder forever changed Ferguson and America. His tragic death sparked a desperately needed conversation and a nationwide movement. We must fight for stronger accountability and racial equity in our justice system.
— Kamala Harris (@KamalaHarris) August 9, 2019
The worst part about Michael Brown’s death, five years later? His killer still walks free.
— Tom Steyer (@TomSteyer) August 9, 2019
5 years ago Michael Brown was murdered by a white police officer in Ferguson, Missouri. Michael was unarmed yet he was shot 6 times. I stand with activists and organizers who continue the fight for justice for Michael. We must confront systemic racism and police violence head on.
— Elizabeth Warren (@ewarren) August 9, 2019
Fact-checkers from publications considered by many to be left-leaning or openly liberal criticized Warren for claiming Brown was “murdered.”
“Harris and Warren have ignored the findings of the Justice Department to accuse Wilson of murder, even though the Justice Department found no credible evidence to support that claim,” The Washington Post reported.
“Instead, the Justice Department found that the popular narrative was wrong, according to witnesses deemed to be credible, some of whom testified reluctantly, because of fear of reprisal. The department produced a comprehensive report to determine what happened, making the senators’ dismissal of it even more galling.”
“In discussing the case with legal experts, however, we found broad consensus that ‘murder’ was the wrong word to use—a legal point likely familiar to Harris, a longtime prosecutor, and Warren, a law professor,” Politifact reported.
The Massachusetts Chiefs of Police Association sent a letter to Warren, with the chief of the association, Russell Stevens, writing, “What you tweeted was based on false information. The entire case was thoroughly investigated by the United States Justice Department. If you took the time to read the conclusion, you will find that Michael Brown was not murdered. Read the details and you will know the truth.”