U.S. News


The Michael Brown 'Hands Up' Debate Continues

The grand jury has ruled not to indict officer Darren Wilson, but that doesn't mean an end to the fight over who was telling the truth.
Posted at 10:56 AM, Nov 26, 2014

It's been the rallying cry across the nation for Michael Brown supporters ever since the unarmed black teenager was shot and killed by a white Ferguson police officer in August.

"Hands up, don't shoot," a crowd of protesters chants in this video uploaded to YouTube.

But in an exclusive ABC interview first aired Tuesday night, officer Darren Wilson says it never happened.

Anchor George Stephanopoulos says, "As you know, some of the eyewitnesses have said when at that moment he turned around, he turned around and put his hands up."

Wilson replies, "That would be uncorrect. Incorrect."

"No way?" Stephanopoulos asks.

"No way," Wilson says.

When asked on NBC's "Today" show Wednesday what he thought of Wilson's side of the story, Brown's father found it unbelievable.

Michael Brown Sr. said: "No. For one, my son wouldn't. ... He respected law enforcement. Two, who in their right mind would charge a police officer that has his gun?"

Brown's mother gave a similar response on "CBS This Morning."

"I don't believe a word of it. I know my son far too well to … He would never do anything like that. He would never provoke anyone to do anything to him, and he would never do anything to anybody," Lesley McSpadden said.

Whether Brown had his hands up is one of the many contentious questions surrounding the story of his shooting.

Witnesses such as Brown's friend Dorian Johnson, who was with him the day of the shooting, believe they saw Brown put his hands up as if to surrender before being killed.

"I saw my friend stop and put his hands up, being compliant after being fired upon, after already being struck with a bullet wound from officer Darren Wilson's gun," Johnson told CNN.

There are contradictory accounts from about 60 witnesses officially recorded in these thousands of pages of grand jury court documents. Some say Brown had his hands up. Some say they weren't sure. And some agreed with Wilson's side of the story.

It's that wealth of information some are saying led to a questionable grand jury process — "too much evidence and not enough supervision," as Vox puts it.

In the end, perhaps a columnist at The Washington Post sums it up best, though, writing: "In short, this case has been a mess, and it remains a tragedy. It's much more complicated to call it a crime — even more complicated to prove it so."

This video includes images from Getty Images.