The “hands up, don’t shoot” slogan used by Democratic activists since August 2013 is a complete falsehood, outgoing Attorney General Eric Holder admitted Wednesday.
He acknowledge the faked story as he released the Justice Department’s investigation of the August 2014 shooting of Michael Brown, in Ferguson, Mo.
“I recognize that the findings in our report may leave some to wonder how the department’s findings can differ so sharply from some of the initial, widely reported accounts of what transpired,” Holder said at the press conference.
However, Holder declined to criticize the TV-media frenzy — and the claims by local African-American protesters — that spread the false claim that the dead youth, Michael Brown, had his hands up shortly before his was shot by police officer Darren Wilson.
Instead, Holder suggested the media and Americans recognize the fakery. “It remains not only valid – but essential – to question how such a strong alternative version of events was able to take hold so swiftly, and be accepted so readily,” he said.
Also, Holder offered some consolation to the Democratic activists by saying abusive actions by local police helped spur subsequent riots.
The town had a “highly toxic environment, defined by mistrust and resentment, stoked by years of bad feelings, and spurred by illegal and misguided [police] practices – [so] it is not difficult to imagine how a single tragic incident set off the city of Ferguson like a powder keg,” he said.
Those claims of police abuse are being used by Holder to promote President Barack Obama’s new effort to federalize police practices in states and localities.
Holder’s claims of police abuse helped divert the media coverage about the report from his admission that the much-televised “hands up, don’t shoot!” slogan is based on false claims.
“Our investigation [of the shooting] has been both fair and rigorous from the start… [officials] independently canvassed more than 300 residences to locate and interview additional witnesses,” he said.
According to the report, “there are several individuals who have stated that Brown held his hands up in an unambiguous sign of surrender prior to Wilson shooting him dead [but] their accounts do not support a prosecution of Wilson.”
“As detailed throughout this report, some of those accounts are inaccurate because they are inconsistent with the physical and forensic evidence; some of those accounts are materially inconsistent with that witness’s own prior statements with no explanation, credible for otherwise, as to why those accounts changed over time. Certain other witnesses who originally stated Brown had his hands up in surrender recanted their original accounts, admitting that they did not witness the shooting or parts of it, despite what they initially reported either to federal or local law enforcement or to the media. Prosecutors did not rely on those accounts when making a prosecutive decision,” said the report.
The report also admitted that the police officer’s description of the incident was confirmed by witnesses.