(FERGUSON, Mo.) — When 18-year-old Michael Brown was killed in Ferguson, Missouri, in 2014, police officers shared a video showing Brown with his hands around a shopkeeper’s neck as he makes off with a carton of cigarillos.
Police called the incident a strong-arm robbery and argued that Brown had brought the same level of violence to his confrontation with them.
However, previously unreleased surveillance video cast doubt on whether Brown robbed the store shortly before he was fatally shot by Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson.
Jason Pollock, the filmmaker who discovered the video, says the footage shows Brown exchanging drugs for a bag of cigarillos around 1 a.m. on Aug. 9, 2014, about 11 hours before he was killed.
The video doesn’t clearly show what was exchanged but shows Brown leaving behind the cigarillos.
The new footage is a part of Pollock’s new documentary Strange Fruit, which debuted Saturday at the South By Southwest festival in Austin, Texas. The documentary suggests that Brown’s argument the next morning was over getting his things back.
“We are doing this for Mike. We are not just doing this to uncover Ferguson. We are doing this to defend Mike’s honor, to defend his name and to defend the family’s name,” Pollock said in an interview with ABC News’ Good Morning America on Monday.
Pollock says the video is proof that Brown did not rob the store.
“They wanted us to think Michael robbed the store because they needed us to think that Michael was aggressive. Michael was handed the bag in the video, the clerk puts it in a plastic bag and hands it over the counter to Michael Brown,” Pollock said. “That’s not stealing [from] the store.”
Brown’s uncle, Bernard Brown, said the police lied about his nephew.
“The picture they painted of my nephew was not right. That video dispels one of the lies they were telling,” Bernard Brown told Good Morning America on Monday.
The convenience store, Ferguson Market and Liquor, strongly denies the documentary’s claims.
Jay Kanzler, an attorney for Ferguson Market and Liquor, said Pollock never reached out to him or his clients in regards to what’s seen in the video.
He said Pollock’s conclusions are entirely false and that the video doesn’t change what happened.
“Right now to turn around and somehow blame folks that have nothing to do with this. To turn around and blame them and drag them back into it for what Michael Brown did is shameful.”
Kanzler categorically denies there was some sort of arrangement between Brown and the employees.
“It just didn’t happen,” he said, adding that things can be made to look a lot different when you edit a video. “This wasn’t Macy’s or Walmart where you put your cigarillos on layaway for some bad pot.”
St. Louis County police spokesman Sgt. Shawn McGuire said the department cannot confirm the authenticity of the video at this time and that the department’s investigation is focused on the interaction between Brown and Wilson.
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