Some witnesses said Michael Brown was shot in the back. Another said he was face-down on the ground when Officer Darren Wilson “finished him off.” Still others acknowledged changing their stories to fit published details about the autopsy or admitted that they did not see the Ferguson shooting at all. An Associated Press review of thousands of pages of grand jury documents shows many examples of statements made during the shooting investigation that were inconsistent, fabricated or provably wrong. (Autopsies showed Brown was not struck by any bullets in his back.) Prosecutors exposed these inconsistencies before the jurors, which likely influenced their decision not to indict Wilson in Brown’s death.
St. Louis County Prosecutor Robert McCulloch said the grand jury had to weigh testimony that conflicted with physical evidence and conflicting statements by witnesses as it decided whether Wilson should face charges. The decision not to charge Wilson with any crime set off more violent protests in Ferguson and around the U.S., fueled by claims that the unarmed black 18-year-old was shot while surrendering to the white officer in the mostly African-American city.
What people thought were facts about the Aug. 9 shooting have become intertwined with what many see as abuses of power and racial inequality in America. Media coverage of the shooting’s aftermath made it into the grand jury proceedings. Before some witnesses testified, prosecutors showed jurors clips of the same people making statements on TV.