A number of African American eyewitnesses to the police shooting death of Michael Brown have given testimony in front of a grand jury that supports Darren Wilson, the officer who shot the teen on Aug. 9 in Ferguson, Missouri.
But according to The Washington Post’s sources, the witnesses have not come forward publicly out of fear.
“Seven or eight African American eyewitnesses have provided testimony consistent with Wilson’s account, but none of them have spoken publicly out of fear for their safety,” the Post reported on Wednesday.
Wilson shot Brown following what began as a verbal altercation in the Canfield neighborhood in Ferguson. The town, and the neighborhood, are majority black. Brown was black. Officer Wilson is white. The shooting has sparked massive outrage from civil rights groups and protesters who believe that race contributed to Brown’s death and to what they see as a sloppy investigation into the shooting.
Most of the witnesses to the shooting who have come forward, including Brown’s friend Dorian Johnson who was with him at the time of the incident, have publicly said that Brown was surrendering when Wilson shot him.
The Post’s report is part of a recent flurry of new information about the Aug. 9 shooting which left 18-year-old Michael Brown dead.
Last week, The New York Times reported that Wilson had told investigators that he fired two shots during a struggle with Brown that took place inside of his police cruiser. Brown’s blood was found on Wilson’s gun. Wilson said that Brown struck and scratched him.
Federal investigators also told the paper that there was likely not enough evidence to support federal civil rights charges against Wilson. (RELATED: Autopsy Analysis: Brown Was Shot In Hand While Reaching For Gun)
On Tuesday, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch published a copy of the official autopsy conducted on Brown which showed that he had suffered a close-range hand wound from Wilson’s gun.
Two experts who reviewed the autopsy — neither took part in the autopsy itself — told the Post-Dispatch that the results of the autopsy lent support to Wilson’s version of events.
One forensic pathologist said that Brown was likely reaching for Wilson’s gun when it was fired. The pathologist also said that results of the autopsy suggested that Brown’s hands were not held up in a surrender position, as many witnesses and Brown supporters have claimed.
The Post-Dispatch reported in a separate article on Tuesday that Wilson told investigators that he attempted to fire his weapon in the car more than twice but that Brown’s hand was likely clamping down on the hammer.
The Washington Post also reported on Wednesday that its source claims that the level of THC, the intoxicating agent in marijuana, found in Brown’s body during the official autopsy was high enough to trigger hallucinations. Other forensic evidence such as shell casings and ballistics tests support Wilson’s general claims about what happened between him and Brown, the Post’s sources claim. Blood spatter analysis also indicated that Brown was moving towards Wilson at the time he was shot, according to the sources. Wilson has reportedly told investigators that he shot Brown as the teenager was running towards him. The Post’s sources said it is unclear from the blood spatter analysis how fast Brown may have been moving.
The Department of Justice, which is conducting its own investigations into the shooting and into the Ferguson police department, slammed the release of the information.
“The independent federal investigation into the shooting of Michael Brown is ongoing,” Justice Department spokeswoman Dena Iverson told the Post. “We will not comment on irresponsible leaks and rumors about the status of the investigation.”