So, I read the grand jury testimony of Dorian Johnson, the buddy of Ferguson’s Michael Brown, and in the spirit of Chris Rock (video NSFW), I discerned from it some lessons that might be useful to people who don’t want to risk being shot by police.
1. Don’t be a lawbreaker or hang out with lawbreakers. “Nobody should ever want to go to jail,” says former jailbird Dorian Johnson (p. 92). Who, despite this, begins his days by smoking pot like other people drink coffee. Smoking pot is illegal in Missouri. He testifies on page 24 that he starts every morning by smoking pot — and later testifies that he and Big Mike (Brown) were headed to the convenience store to buy cigarillos so they could smoke pot together. On pages 174-76, Johnson testifies about his (minor) criminal past, and how he got blamed for being with other kids who stole a package. He doesn’t seem to connect this to the fact that he remained with Big Mike after watching Big Mike steal cigarillos. Trouble follows troublemakers. Stay away from them.
2. When you go to the Kwikee Mart to buy the cigarillos with which to roll your morning blunt, don’t reach across the counter to take what you want. In the normal world of law and order, people don’t have the right to trespass in that way in a store. It is called theft. And don’t use the fact that you are 6’4″ and 300 pounds to bully the much smaller store clerk. (On pp. 84-86, Johnson admits that “Big Mike” stole the cigarillos, and pushed the clerk around, trying to be macho.) Do not be a thief, a thug, or a neighborhood bully, and you dramatically reduce your chances of having a fatal encounter with a police officer.
3. When a police officer tells you to stop walking down the middle of the road, do what he says. This is the most amazing part of Johnson’s testimony. He and Brown were both complete idiots. They were walking down the middle of a road, with traffic going by, and Officer Wilson told them to get back on the sidewalk. Johnson testified (see p. 65) that they told him they would get out of the road “in a minute.” One of the grand jurors asked Johnson why he and Brown didn’t simply obey the officer’s command, given that they were breaking the law by walking in the middle of the road. Johnson said (p. 69) that they did not take the cop seriously, and that they felt disrespected by him (“it was more like, ‘we’re not your kids…'”).
Seriously, they did this. A cop told these two dopes to get out of the road, and they figure that they will take their sweet time doing it, because they didn’t like his attitude.
Do not do this when a police officer gives you a lawful order.
Remember, Johnson was Brown’s friend, and is trying to make Brown look like a complete victim. Yet his testimony makes Mike Brown look like a very poor martyr to police brutality. In his testimony, Johnson says they told the cop that they would get out of the road “in a minute” because they were close to home, but he later says they said nothing to the cop. He says, repeatedly, that they were minding their own business and not doing anything wrong, but he concedes that a theft had just occurred down the street, and his friend Big Mike was the thief.
On pages 106-107, the grand jury is trying to nail down where Big Mike’s hand was when Wilson’s gun went off. Johnson testifies that Big Mike’s right hand (which was struck by the bullet) was out of the car. The physical evidence shows, however, that Big Mike’s arm was inside the car when he was shot in the hand. Johnson also testifies that Wilson shot Big Mike as Big Mike was running away, and hit him in the back. The autopsy showed no shots entering Big Mike from the rear. On pages 158-9, Johnson testifies that Big Mike, having been shot, was “walking towards the officer saying [that he did not have a gun] in an angry manner.”
Everything I’ve said so far is based solely on the grand jury testimony of Dorian Johnson. Ofc. Darren Wilson, in his grand jury testimony (p. 208), says that after Dorian Johnson declined to return to the sidewalk, saying that he and Brown were almost to their destination, he (Wilson) said, “What’s wrong with the sidewalk?” Brown replied, “F–k what you have to say.” It is not a good idea to speak to a police officer in this manner, if you wish to avoid an altercation with him. It is also not a good idea to curse the police officer a second time and slam the door on him as he’s trying to get out of his SUV, nor is it advisable to reach into the cop’s car and punch his face (p. 210). Do not grab the cop’s gun if he draws it, and do not taunt him by telling him he is too much of a pussy to shoot you (p. 214).
None of this means that Wilson was justified in using deadly force against Brown (though if Wilson’s testimony is true and accurate, it seems that way — and there’s nothing in Johnson’s testimony to counter it). And it doesn’t mean that there aren’t big problems with policing in Ferguson. I simply want to say here that the behavior of Brown and Johnson on that day is a good example of What Not To Do. Seriously, when a cop tells you to quit walking down the middle of the damn road, you do it. You don’t tell him, “In a minute,” and you certainly don’t curse him. What kind of knuckleheads think this is an appropriate way to respond to police authority? Maybe the deeper problem is a lack of respect for authority, for the law, and for the local community.
People like Dorian Johnson and Michael Brown make neighborhoods worse. Did you know that the convenience store that the Gentle Giant robbed was looted the other night by the same sort of people as Mike Brown? Here’s a clip of the owner standing in the ruins of his store: