THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL
August 21, 2014
Guest: Lizz Brown, Michael Brady
LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: Rachel, we are losing nothing less than
the funniest executive producer in the history of cable news.
RACHEL MADDOW, "TRMS" HOST: It`s true, and the best. I`m going to kill
him. That`s right.
O`DONNELL: Yes, we`re going to miss him.
MADDOW: Thanks, man.
O`DONNELL: Thanks, Rachel.
O`DONNELL: We have some breaking news for you at this hour. My educated
guess last week that the police officer who shot and killed Michael Brown
did not write an incident report turns out to be true.
PROTESTERS: Hands up, don`t shoot! Hands up, don`t shoot!
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Calls are growing louder for the lead prosecutor to
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He has deep ties to the police force.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: McCulloch remains firm that he will stay on the case.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The people don`t believe that he will do the right
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Unless Governor Jay Nixon orders him off of it.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The governor has to step up and decide.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Act or shut up.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Protesters lined up outside the St. Louis County
PROTESTERS: No justice, no peace!
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: People are now awake.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Still demanding answers about the killing of Michael
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: People have decided they can make a change.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A grand jury has begun hearing evidence.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We`re still going to be protesting every single day.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But it could take weeks to determine if there will be
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: People in the community has been tired of the violence
and the tear gas.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This afternoon, Governor Nixon ordered the National
Guard to begin withdrawing.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: With the improving conditions there on the ground.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The presence of Attorney General Holder yesterday
helped with that.
ERIC HOLDER, ATTORNEY GENERAL: This Department of Justice stands with the
people of Ferguson.
O`DONNELL: We have breaking news tonight in the killing of Michael Brown.
St. Louis County prosecutors told NBC News today that the Ferguson Police
Department has no incident report of the shooting of Michael Brown. Darren
Wilson, the officer who shot and killed Michael Brown, did not write an
incident report contrary to standard police procedure.
Ferguson Police Chief Tom Jackson seems to, in effect, say that last week
when he released another incident report involving the theft of cigarillos
from a convenience store, and the convenience store video of Michael Brown
apparently stealing those cigarillos.
Listen to what Chief Jackson said that day when he released those reports.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TOM JACKSON, FERGUSON POLICE CHIEF: Pretty much given me every bit of
information we have now. I don`t think there`s anything else that we have
to give out.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Just before Chief Jackson`s press conference, I tweeted this on
Friday. "Educated guess, possible reason they didn`t release shooter`s
incident report, he didn`t write one on advice of his lawyer."
And then when I heard him say, we pretty much gave every bit of information
we have, I tweeted this, "Chief seems to make it very clear that the
shooter did not write an incident report. Fifth Amendment."
Yesterday, in response to a lawsuit from the ACLU, the St. Louis County
police released an incident report that says, in effect, nothing other than
the time and proximate location of a homicide and the victim`s name,
Michael Brown. That incident report indicates that it was not filed until
possibly 10 days after the killing of Michael Brown.
Joining me now is Lisa Bloom, an NBC legal analyst, Lizz Brown, a criminal
defense attorney and a columnist for the "St. Louis American" newspaper,
and Jim Cavanaugh, an MSNBC law enforcement analyst and retired ATF special
Lizz Brown to you, what is your reaction to you that the shooter in this
case did not write an incident report?
LIZZ BROWN, ST. LOUIS AMERICAN: I think it`s consistent with everything
that we`ve experienced with this police department. I think it`s
consistent with the concerns that have been articulated by all of the
people that have been marching and protesting and crying out for justice.
This is a police department that is out of control. This is a police
department that doesn`t have respect for the law. And it`s a police
department that is very comfortable with not telling the truth about what
It`s hugely problematic. I mean, it`s almost like something that would
have been written for a sitcom, because it`s just that unbelievable.
O`DONNELL: Lisa Bloom, in the decades I`ve been studying these cases, most
of them involve incident reports written by the officers involved with the
shooting. In recent years, it has become customary for the police lawyer
to run in, police union lawyer usually, and prevent the shooter from giving
any kind of comment or writing any sort of incident report whatsoever.
LISA BLOOM, NBC NEWS LEGAL ANALYST: Well, that`s a very aggressive move by
the defense attorney, and I can understand that. But we the people, the
citizens who, with our tax dollars are paying this police officer, are
entitled to an account of what happened.
And if he refuses to follow standard operating procedure in preparing a
report about the taking of the human life, he should be fired. He`s now on
administrative leave with full pay. At a minimum, this revelation should
result in the loss of his job.
O`DONNELL: Jim Cavanaugh, your reaction?
JIM CAVANAUGH, MSNBC LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, if this is justice,
Lawrence, I`ll take something else. You got no incident report by the
officer and you have no incident report by the county homicide bureau.
It`s a blank. It doesn`t even have the basic facts. It has Michael
Brown`s name and a homicide. That`s -- and the date. It doesn`t have
I mean, you`re not expecting "war and peace" to be written on the first day
by the homicide bureau, but you expect to have the basic circumstances of
the death, the circumstances that surrounded, the scenario, who`s involved,
the names of possible witnesses. I`ve been to many murder scenes and I`ve
been to them when they just happened as an officer.
You know, when you had a homicide on your beat, you had to write a long
incident report, because a homicide detective is expecting you, too. You
know, when you got the call, when you arrived, you saw the guy there, he
had blood all over his shirt, what the first witnesses said to you. And we
would always write them. Once we could get clear to the scene, we could go
back to the station and elaborate.
So, I don`t know. I don`t know, Lawrence. I`m very flabbergasted. I
think the whole situation, it cries upon the Department of Justice to make
a move here, to determine probable cause. I know the federal attorneys. I
know they`ll want to go to the federal grand jury. But something has got
O`DONNELL: So far, the police procedure, the local police procedure is
textbook for a bad shooting the police don`t want to admit. I think we can
put this incident report up on the screen. I`m not sure we have it
prepared graphically to do it. But I`ll hold it.
You can see, there`s not a written sentence on this incident report. St.
Louis County Police incident report. That`s how long it is. There`s one
little piece that flips over to the next -- there you see it, the next page
just has Michael Brown`s name on it, identifies the situation as a
homicide, which it is, which a lot of people think in the audience means
murder. It doesn`t. It simply just means a person died at the hands of
another, could be completely legal and legitimate.
The only date on it other than the date the incident occurred is actually
August 19, this Tuesday, just two days ago, and it may be that this report
was not even composed, was not even entered into their records until two
days ago and we got this report as a result of the ACLU pressing for it,
Lizz Brown. So, there is the possibility that this piece of nothing was
actually just created this week.
BROWN: Absolutely, and after the press conference, and after the request
for it. You know, I think that we can almost look at this document as a
confession, a confession by the police department that we did wrong. And
that we did something that we cannot defend. And we did something that we
I think that`s really the only way to look at this document. It`s a
created document for the sole purpose of responding to a request from the
ACLU. In the document, it says nothing about what happened. They don`t
want to say because they don`t want to admit it.
O`DONNELL: I just want to go to the time entered. The date and time
entered was August 19 at 9:46 a.m. And then it got a supervisor review
later that same day, Tuesday, then it got a final approval on Wednesday,
Now, look, one of the possibilities is that simply may be some bureaucratic
information about how this particular piece of paper was revealed to the
ACLU and it might simply be a log of tracking the paper`s movement through
their system. That`s the best reading of it -- from the most positive
reading you can give it for the St. Louis County police.
BROWN: But if it was signed off by a supervisor and if it was accepted by
the chief of police, then this raises another question. Darren Wilson is
still employed by the police department. This should have they have been
an acceptable police report to file. So, if the chief accepted it, if the
supervisor accepted it, they should lose their jobs, as well. This is a
completely unacceptable report.
BLOOM: Can we talk about the huge strategic advantage this gives to Darren
O`DONNELL: Oh, yes, this is what I want to get to, legally.
This is -- if Darren Wilson`s lawyer could have managed the entire
investigative response to this case so far, everything that we know he
would have wanted done has been done. And everything that we know he would
not want done has not been done.
BLOOM: That`s right, because without giving any kind of a public
statement, and we still don`t have one from Officer Wilson, or even an
attorney representing him. We`ve been piecing together for the last week
and a half these dribs and drabs from hearsay witnesses, right? We really
don`t even know what his story is.
That gives him a huge advantage. He can listen to all of the witnesses who
have come forward. He can look at the autopsy reports. He can look at
whatever documentary evidence there is behind the scenes, and then he can
create a story that conforms to all that evidence.
Really, there is no bigger advantage in a court of law than that advantage.
O`DONNELL: Go ahead, Lizz.
BROWN: And don`t forget that when he walks into the grand jury, the grand
jury will rule on information that is hearsay information, information that
could they have pass muster in a courtroom. So, he not only has the
advantages just articulated, but he has the advantage of bringing anything
that he wants into in the grand jury.
O`DONNELL: The -- there`s another issue that`s been getting banged around
in the media lately and that is the issue of the injuries sustained by this
police officer was reported in "The Washington Post" that there was a
fracture of some kind near the eye of the officer. CNN is reporting that
that`s untrue, there was no fracture. And Jim Cavanaugh, it would be very
easy for the police department to reveal precisely what the medical
findings were when he went to the hospital.
CAVANAUGH: Exactly right, Lawrence. There`s an old police saying, if
there`s trouble getting the information, there`s usually trouble with the
CAVANAUGH: There would be no reason not to tell us what the officer`s
injuries were. And, by the way, I think the officer did suffer some injury
bruise to the face, whether Michael Brown punched him, whether his head
slammed on the rail during the altercation, or whether his firearm kicked
back in the close quarters of the police vehicle and banged his face. So,
I`m not seeing that as a big dispute. I`d say he probably has some injury
to his face.
It doesn`t justify shooting him when he`s running away or shooting at him
in the shoots later. It`s completely a different issue.
So, police, you`ve got to expect to be punched in the face. You can punch
back, but you can`t shoot back. Not in the situation that`s not life-
So, yes, all this information, where is it? It`s disappeared. Is it in
the arch? I don`t see it.
I think that we need -- we need the Department of Justice to make some
decisions for the country, for the county, for the people, make the
decision. This is about leaders making decisions. They did it for us in
the civil rights era. All the heroes of that era made the decisions.
We`re at the time now. If the county prosecutor wants to make it, he
should make it. But the county`s prosecutor`s office is full of great
prosecutors who decide probable cause every day. Cops decide probable
cause every day.
Every arrest is decided on probable cause, every warrant, every search
warrant, we all decide probable cause. It`s not hard to do. We live it.
It can be decided and a decision needs to be made.
O`DONNELL: Lizz Brown, you`re the closest watcher of Ferguson in St. Louis
police here among us. I have never seen one of these cases in which the
police didn`t release and make public every bit of information that was
helpful to them as soon as possible. Is that generally the way things have
worked in St. Louis?
BROWN: That`s generally the way that it works, particularly a case that`s
being tried in the public arena. The police have every option, every
opportunity, and nearly every resource, to decide which way, which
direction the story is going to take.
In this case, I`ve never seen anything like it before. What I`ve also
never seen, and I think we talked about this before, is the fact that this
potential defendant is being invited to walk into the grand jury and
present his case. No prosecutor, who is seeking an indictment, invites the
defendant in to argue his case. And there`s also one more thing that I
don`t know that we have an answer to.
It could have -- it could very well be that Darren Wilson has testified
before this grand jury before on another case. So we have the potential
that a grand jury, who has found him credible to issue a warrant on, is now
going to be asked to look at this man and see if they want to issue an
indictment for murder on this man. That`s a problem. It`s a huge problem.
O`DONNELL: It`s a very strange case from start to finish.
Lisa Bloom, Lizz Brown, and Jim Cavanaugh, thank you all very much for
joining me tonight.
BROWN: Thank you, Lawrence.
BLOOM: Thank you.
O`DONNELL: Coming up, another eyewitness to the shooting of Michael Brown
joins me next.
And in the rewrite, "The New York Times" responded today to what I had to
say about their reporting last night.
O`DONNELL: An eyewitness to the shooting death of Michael Brown will join
us next and tell us what he saw.
O`DONNELL: I`m joined now by another eyewitness to the shooting of Michael
Brown. Michael Brady joins us now from Ferguson.
Michael Brady, thank you very much for joining us tonight.
Could you tell us where you were when you first became aware that something
was happening on that street?
MICHAEL BRADY, WITNESSED MICHAEL BROWN`S DEATH: I was actually in my
bedroom, and I hear an altercation outside. I happened to look out the
window. I see an altercation, some kind of tussling in the window.
And right after that, I actually just seen him take off from the vehicle.
He also had a friend with him. His friend, he was actually like in front
of the vehicle, like five feet away from it, in front of the passenger side
of the vehicle.
And like I said, they both just take off from the vehicle after a little
tussle in the window. And his friend runs behind a white two-door vehicle
that was sitting off to the side. And the officer immediately just gets
out the vehicle and he just started shooting.
So, when he started shooting, he was actually taking large steps to him, to
Michael Brown that was (ph) at the window. And I noticed that he wasn`t
shooting at his friend because he walked past the car. So, when he walked
past the car, I noted that was my time to run out to the front door.
When I went out to the front door, that`s when I turned my phone on. When
I went outside, he was actually balled up, like he was hit in the stomach
is what I thought. So, as he was kind of balled up, he was going down
actually. And the cop actually shot four or five shots at him, and then he
hit the ground and that was it.
O`DONNELL: When you say you saw an altercation at the car, was it already
under way? Did you see it begin or was it already happening when you
looked at the car?
BRADY: It was already happening.
O`DONNELL: OK. Could you see Michael Brown`s hands during that
O`DONNELL: Where were his hands?
BRADY: Most likely through the window.
O`DONNELL: OK, through the window. And you just made sort of a punching
gesture. Would you say -- could you tell from your angle if Michael Brown
BRADY: I really can`t tell. I just know -- I seen probably the cop`s arm
was probably doing the same thing. I just seen some arms going through the
window. That`s why I was doing this. But most likely I would say that
Mike Brown`s arms was through the window.
O`DONNELL: Could you --
BRADY: Maybe the cop`s arms --
O`DONNELL: Could you see the police officer`s arms?
BRADY: Yes, I seen his arms moving also.
O`DONNELL: OK. The video that you recorded at that time, there`s some --
we don`t have the video ready to play, you gave it to us early, we
appreciate that. We got -- we got the audio of what you said on that
video, and it begins with you saying he just got shot. He just ran up to
the car, he ran up to the car. He was punching on him.
Who was punching on who or what did you mean by, "he was punching on him?"
BRADY: Well, like I said, when I first looked out the window and saw that,
that`s just what I assumed that he was punching on him. You know, because
that`s not normal for anybody to be, you know, at the cop`s window, so I
O`DONNELL: OK, so was your angle on Michael Brown`s back or at a spot
where you could see his profile leaning into the car? His side or his back
or his front or what?
BRADY: I couldn`t see his face while I was at the window. But like I say,
he took off running. I seen the sides, his whole side body just takes off
from the vehicle. So basically I just seen the side of his face just
running away from the vehicle.
O`DONNELL: OK. And just to go back to this altercation, at that time, you
saw the altercation that was punching or some kind of punching. And then
Michael Brown runs away from the car?
O`DONNELL: And did you hear a shot fired before Michael Brown ran away
from the car?
BRADY: No, that`s what I didn`t hear. Because like I said, I was still in
the window while it was going on.
O`DONNELL: OK. So you were inside and so there was a window separating
you from the sounds of what was going on out there or some of the sounds?
O`DONNELL: At some point, Michael, in the middle of this, you lose sight
of what`s going on out there because of -- as I heard what you said, you
change your position. You go from that window to somewhere else. Did you
leave the apartment and go outside?
O`DONNELL: And how long did it take you to go from your apartment to
outside, how much of the action do you think you missed during that move?
BRADY: It wasn`t long at all, because it took some big steps going to the
front door, so I could really see what`s going on. But like I said, from
the time the officer gets out the car and I noticed that he went past his
friend, that was a time for me to go outside. But that was probably less
than five seconds definitely. It didn`t take long for me to get to the
O`DONNELL: And had -- you --had been the officer fired any shots by the
time you made your move?
BRADY: I didn`t hear that. I didn`t hear that.
And what did you see Michael Brown do? You saw him run away from the car,
and that`s the last thing you saw Michael Brown doing before you changed
your position was him running away from the car?
BRADY: No, actually, he was -- the officer was already shooting. He was
already shooting. That`s why when he immediately gets out the car, he just
started shooting in his shooting position. Like I said, he past his police
cruiser and he past the vehicle that his friend also ran to.
So, that was my time when I thought he`s not shooting at his friend. So,
he`s constantly shooting at the person at the window. So, that`s when I
took off to the front door.
O`DONNELL: OK. When you got out the front door, what did you see Michael
Brown doing then?
BRADY: When I gets outside, he was actually turned back around facing the
officer. Like I said, I thought he was hit obviously because he`s turned
around and he was going down, he was bent over with his hands over his
stomach and he was going down on his knees. Like I said, it didn`t look
like he was giving up. You know, it just looked like he was going to go
down and just bleed to death.
But the officer, before he went down, the officer lets out three or four
more shots at him. That`s when he hit the ground.
O`DONNELL: So when you say you got to the point and you saw him and he was
-- he had his arms like that and he was going down, would it be fair for me
to interpret what you`re saying, do you think Michael Brown -- did it look
to you like he represented a threat to the police officer?
BRADY: I`m sorry, I couldn`t hear you. I really couldn`t hear you.
O`DONNELL: When you came to the door and you saw Michael Brown beginning
to go down, did it seem like he was -- he was in any way threatening the
police officer as he was going down?
BRADY: No, no. Like I said, he was already 20, 25 feet away. So it
didn`t look like at all that he was trying to charge at him or anything
O`DONNELL: So to be clear, are you saying when you saw the final shots
fired, the police officer was 25 feet away from Michael Brown?
O`DONNELL: And when the police officer stopped firing and Michael Brown
went down on the pavement, how far apart was the police officer from
BRADY: I`d say, within 20 feet, within 20 feet.
BRADY: Twenty, 25 feet.
O`DONNELL: So, 20 feet. Still a significant distance.
Certainly a much longer distance that if someone who was unarmed was trying
to harm you, if they`re 20 or 25 feet away from you, you don`t have
anything to worry about. That`s what we`re talking about.
O`DONNELL: And I just wanted you to listen to something that another
witness said on this program. Tiffany Mitchell, who approached that area
in her car and watched the entire thing. She never had to leave the scene
for a moment, or lose sight of it as you did.
Let`s listen, Michael, I hope you can hear, to what Tiffany Mitchell said.
Let`s listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TIFFANY MITCHELL, WITNESSED MICHAEL BROWN`S DEATH: As I come around the
corner, I hear tires squeaking. As I get closer, I see Michael and the
officer grappling through the window. Michael was pushing, trying to get
away from him. The officer was trying to pull him in.
As I see this, I pull out my phone because it just didn`t look right, you
never see an officer and someone just wrestling through the window. So, as
I pulled my phone, the first shot was fired through the window. And I just
like tried to get out of the way.
I pulled into the parking lot right beside where the cop car was, and
that`s when Michael broke away and started running down the street. The
officer gets out of his vehicle and pursues him. As he`s following him,
he`s shooting at him.
Michael`s body jerks as if he was hit. Then he turns around, put his hands
up and the officer continued to walk up on him and shoot him until he goes
all the way down to the ground.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Michael Brady, is that essentially the -- what you saw?
BRADY: Well, like I said, I really didn`t see his hands up.
BRADY: Like I said, he probably -- let me see. I really didn`t see his
hands up, but like I said, by the time I get outside, it was looking like
that he was hit in the stomach and he was already look like he was going
down and the officer let out a few more shots. So I didn`t miss the hands
go all on that one.
O`DONNELL: Yes. And so is that the only -- I don`t want to call it
disagreement, because it isn`t. It`s something you didn`t see that she
saw, and it may have happened when you weren`t looking. But is that the
only difference between your stories at this point do you think in what you
BRADY: I mean, my story definitely isn`t going to change. So that`s what
she saw. I mean, that`s what I saw.
O`DONNELL: Yes, I think the only difference is your choice of words on you
say altercation. You know, that day you say punching. She says wrestling.
Those are all pretty close.
O`DONNELL: So I just wanted to see if you heard anything that she said. I
didn`t hear anything that she said that differed substantially with what
you said. I just wanted to make sure I wasn`t missing anything there.
O`DONNELL: OK. Michael Brady, thank you very much for joining us tonight.
BRADY: Not a problem.
O`DONNELL: I really appreciate it. I know it was difficult there with the
noise around you and I really appreciate it. Thank you.
BRADY: Not a problem. Thank you.
O`DONNELL: Joy Reid joins me next to discuss what you just heard.
O`DONNELL: Joining me now to analyze what you just heard from my witness
is MSNBC`s Joy Reid.
Joy, I know no one is studying this case closer than you are. What did you
pick up on in what Michael Brady just had to say?
JOY REID, MSNBC HOST, THE REID REPORT: Well Lawrence, I`m glad that you
also played part of what Tiffany Mitchell had to say. Because I think
what`s important here is that there really is a substantial similarity
between of all the accounts. And he goes through what sounds like very
much what sounds like Tiffany`s story, which is some kind of a scuffle at
the car and then the officer exiting the car and shooting at Michael Brown
while moving toward Michael Brown, and then shooting him as he`s going
And what`s important about that, of course, is he`s saying he was doubled
over and balled up and going down. And the shots were continuing. And you
know now from the autopsy that the family got by Michael Baden that it was
one shot that was right at the top of the head which would indicate that he
was leaning forward. So I think it is important that, you know, witnesses
are always difficult. They`re not, you know, coached to come on television
and talk. And so they tend to be nervous and they stumble through.
But what you`re looking for is substantial similarity between the accounts.
And I think you have it here. I think the one question will be what was
happening at the car. Because likely, if this ever becomes a trial, what
officer Wilson`s defense will be is the scuffle in the car involved Michael
Brown hitting him or somehow attacking him.
O`DONNELL: Yes, which doesn`t carry the death penalty. There`s plenty of
police officers who get assaulted and know how to handle it without killing
And Joy, I think there is going to be, as this coverage continues,
certainly before we get to a courtroom if we get to a courtroom, a
tremendous overemphasis on what happened in the car. As Michael Brady said
on his video that day, punching, as Tiffany said wrestling. Michael said
tonight altercation. You know, maybe punching. And I think the people who
are trying to find a justification for this shooting are going to lean
heavily on what happened in the automobile.
The trouble is, the killing of Michael Brown occurs outside of the
automobile or after some passage of time, after he`s been shot a number of
times, and he`s, as we just heard from Michael Brady, if his testimony is
true, he`s 20 feet away approximately, 25 feet away, when the final kill
shots are delivered. And the final kill shot has to be treated as a
separate decision made by the police officer. Let`s listen to the way
Michael Brady described those final shots.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BRADY: When I gets outside, he was actually turned back around facing the
officer. And like I said, I thought he was hit obviously because he turned
around and he was going down. He was bent over with his hands over his
stomach, and he was going down on his knees. And like I said, it didn`t
look like he was giving up, you know. It just like he was going to go down
and just bleed to death. But the officer, before he went down, the officer
just lets out three or four more shots at him. And that`s when he hit the
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: And Joy, that`s completely consistent with what Tiffany
Mitchell had to say about this. And that is where the case resides. That
is point of the case that is first degree murder or manslaughter or that`s
where the charge will be lodged, right on what he just said.
REID: And to say nothing -- you know, I know a number of police officers
and the idea of running down the street or running after someone shooting
is really not sound police practice either. But then, he`s also describing
somebody that is already neutralized as a threat because he`s in the
process of falling down, the process of falling forward, doubled over with
his hands clutching his stomach. That doesn`t sound like someone who is
then coming after or charging after or any threat to the officer.
And to your point. But you see, Lawrence, here`s the thing. It is going
to be up to a prosecutor to make that case and to get -- if this ever gets
that far, a jury to discount the idea that whatever happened in the car or
even whatever happened in the store, which is completely irrelevant, 100
percent irrelevant is important, but those things are out there. And I
think that`s what makes people so nervous about the current prosecutor,
that you do have the police having given information that is prejudicial
against the victim. It is already out there in the public consciousness.
So people who are inclined to believe the officer are going to reach for
anything that makes Michael Brown look threatening or makes Michael Brown,
you know look, we`ve seen the word thug thrown around very much like you
saw in the Trayvon Martin case. So I think that`s the reason to worry,
that the prosecution is not vigorous enough in saying what you just said.
O`DONNELL: Well, you know, I think it`s going to be a close call, whether
that video from the store is allowed in the case. I think if there is a
case, the defense will argue and may very well successfully argue that this
shows a propensity, this shows this guy`s ability to throw a punch. It
wouldn`t be so surprising.
And so, let`s assume for the moment that`s in the case. It is entirely
possible that a jury can find that the first shot inside that car was a
justifiable defense by the police officer of someone who was attacking him.
That very same juror can decide that after the officer got out of the car
and was running down the street, and we know recklessly firing the gun
because he hit someone`s house with the shooting, and he missed, you know,
as a lot of police bullets do. And then when you -- then you have Michael
Brady`s testimony saying, and Tiffany Mitchell`s testimony saying the final
decision the police officer makes after all of this as he`s watching this
person fall with bullets already in him is to shoot him in the head two
REID: Yes. And therein lies the importance of having a vigorous
prosecution that makes all of those cases and differentiates that. Because
he jury, you have to walk the jury through that in that way. And that`s
where a vigorous prosecutor that believes in their case comes in. And I
think that`s what people will wait and watch to see.
But again, I think what`s important here and what you do have is multiple
eyewitnesses whose stories substantially track. You now have three people
who don`t know each other, who don`t have any reason to coordinate their
stories and you have contemporaneous video that they took on that day,
proving that they were there, that they saw, that they were there in the
So I think it`s important that the substantial similarity between what
we`ve now heard in these multiple accounts really does point to an officer
who was running toward Michael Brown, who was shooting, and who fired those
final shots as he was leaning forward. That`s how you get a gunshot right
in the top of the head. And I think that`s what this case hinges on is
those final shots, those final two or three shots or particularly the two
that wound up in Michael Brown`s head.
O`DONNELL: Joy Reid, thank you very much for joining me tonight. And
thanks for the work you`re doing on this on "the Reid Report" every day at
2:00 on MSNBC. That`s how I get my homework done every day. Thanks, Joy.
REID: Thanks, Lawrence.
O`DONNELL: Coming up, "The New York Times" responds to last night`s
O`DONNELL: Today, "The New York Times" responded to my gentle critique of
"The New York Times" in the rewrite last night. In tonight`s rewrite, I
will be just as gentle with "The New York Times." That`s next.
O`DONNELL: Well, someone at "The New York Times" listened to last night`s
rewrite, in which I am analyzed. Some might say picked apart the police
reporting that "The New York Times" delivered yesterday in their front page
article about witness accounts of the shooting of Michael Brown. I won`t
belabor what took me 11 minutes to explain last night, but a series of
tweets that I sent to "The New York Times" today has a basis.
I said that "The New York Times" did basically bad police reporting
yesterday based on law enforcement leak saying to(INAUDIBLE) to last
night`s rewrite segment. I then said "The New York Times" must stop saying
witness accounts differ sharply if they cannot prove it. "The Times"
offers no proof. I then made a request of "The Times" please produce the
witness accounts that differ sharply, side by side, or stop saying
something you can`t prove.
I know many of you tweeted "The New York Times" about this immediately
after last night`s rewrite and a reply came today in an article posted by
"The New York Times" public editor Margaret Sullivan. After noting my
objections to the article yesterday, and interviewing James Dow, the
deputy, "the Times" deputy national editor who defended the article, the
public editor wrote.
This article doesn`t measure up for the reasons detailed above. "The
Times" is asking readers to trust its sourcing without nearly enough
specificity or details and it steps up an apparently dichotomy between
named eyewitnesses on one hand and ghosts on the other.
Ghosts is a great word, a much better word than what I came up with for
what "The Times" was using in that article to justify the notion that
witness accounts differ sharply. In defending the article, James Dow said
that it would be ideal in every story to name all the sources, but that was
not possible here.
Here`s the problem. I never once asked for the name of one of "The New
York Times" sources. This is not about the names of the sources. Keep
your sources secret. What I demand to know is what those sources said.
"The Times" does not offer one word from their anonymous sources, not one
word that describes a sharply differing account from an eyewitness. That`s
what they should have done, if they had that.
So James Dow is hiding behind an issue that was not raised. I don`t care
about the names of "The Times" secret sources. James Dow still doesn`t
understand how bad the reporting writing and especially his editing of that
article was. He`s obviously the editor responsible for it, and the
language used in that article is his fault.
James Dow`s terrible job of editing a badly reported article infected "The
New York Times" lead editorial today, just as I expected it would. In an
otherwise solid editorial, there is this line. Witness accounts differ
sharply on the events leading to the shooting.
Knowing the way things work at newspaper editorial boards, I can guaranty
that no one involved in the writing of that editorial can tell us which
witness accounts differ sharply or slightly, or if at all. It is a virtual
certainty that the anonymous writer of that editorial cannot cite a single
sharp difference between or among any of the known witness accounts in any
of "The New York Times" supposedly secret witness accounts.
The editorial writer just lifted that phrasing from yesterday`s very bad
police reporting in "The New York Times." "The New York Times" reporters
and editor James Dow made a secret judgment that witness accounts differ
sharply. And they have implicitly said to "The New York Times" readers you
just have to trust us about that differing sharply bit.
While the headline of "The New York Times" public editor`s article is a
Ferguson story on quote "conflicts accounts," end quote, seems to say
"trust us." I don`t trust "The New York Times," even though it is the best
newspaper in America. I don`t trust any newspaper. I don`t trust any news
organization. No news organization should ever ask for your trust. I can
rely on "The New York Times" or any news report anywhere only to the degree
that those reports contain verifiable information.
Now, I actually have more experience sorting fact from fiction in killings
by police than most people working at "The New York Times." I wrote a book
about police use of deadly force 30 years ago. In fact, I wrote the first
op-ed piece about police use of deadly force that "The New York Times" ever
In 30 years of studying the "New York Times" coverage of these cases, I
have never been critical of their work until yesterday. One of the things
that is striking about this case so far is that the witness accounts do not
differ sharply. All the reported witness accounts, mostly agree on all of
the crucial points. That is very unusual. I would have expected by now
that there could be witness accounts that differ sharply.
It is not a sharp difference when one says altercation and one says
wrestling and one says punches. That is not a sharp difference. There
usually are sharp differences in eyewitness testimony. All eyewitnesses
see things differently, and it doesn`t mean that one is lying and the other
isn`t. It means as they`re going through the shock of witnessing such an
event, they see and hear and remember things differently. Sometimes
slightly differently, sometimes sharply differently.
I am still actually expecting some sharp differences to emerge among
eyewitnesses. And when they do, we`ll analyze those differences on this
program. But those sharp differences have not emerged anywhere yet.
And "New York times" editor James Dow allowing the line "witness accounts
differ sharply" to appear in his newspaper yesterday with absolutely no
supporting evidence that any eyewitness accounts differ sharply is not good
enough for me, because I don`t trust "The New York Times" and the public
editor of "The New York Times" doesn`t trust "The New York Times," either.
Which is why she has a job.
Her job is to evaluate questionable reporting in "The New York Times." and
"The New York Times" being a fundamentally responsible news organization
knows it needs a cop inside "The New York Times" to try to keep the
At "The New York Times," normally high level of journalistic standards.
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