A video clip never before seen by the American public could shed some new light on a case 2 1/2 years after Michael Brown, an unarmed black man, was shot and killed by a white police officer in Ferguson, Missouri.
The video suggests that Brown did not rob the convenience store he was at prior to being shot in the street, as has been believed, but that he was involved in a prearranged drug deal with the clerk.
Filmmaker Jason Pollock obtained the video and shared it with The New York Times on Saturday as part of a preview for his new documentary about the case, titled "Stranger Fruit."
Brown is seen in the new video walking into the convenience store, Ferguson Market and Liquor, shortly after 1 a.m. on the day he died. At the counter, he hands over an item that looks to be a small bag and takes back a shopping sack filled with cigarillos. Brown is shown walking toward the door with the sack, then turning around and handing the cigarillos back across the counter before exiting.
Pollock claims the footage challenges the police’s story that Brown committed a robbery when he returned to the store around noon that day. The filmmaker believes that the new video shows Brown giving a small bag of marijuana to store employees and receiving cigarillos in return as part of a negotiated deal.
Why did the 18-year-old Brown hand the bag of cigarillos back? Pollock said Brown left the cigarillos behind the counter for safekeeping.
"There was some type of exchange, for one thing," Brown's mother Lesley McSpadden said in the documentary, which premiered Saturday at the South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas.
According to the Times, Jay Kanzler, a lawyer for the convenience store and its employees, adamantly disputed that version of events and said the new footage is unrelated to Brown’s later visit to the store.
“There was no transaction,” Kanzler said. “There was no understanding. No agreement. Those folks didn’t sell him cigarillos for pot. The reason he gave it back is he was walking out the door with unpaid merchandise and they wanted it back.”
As the New York Times reported, regardless of what happened at the store in the early-morning hours, the new footage does not resolve the long-simmering questions about Brown’s encounter with Officer Darren Wilson along a Ferguson street that day. Wilson is the officer who shot Brown.
Sgt. Shawn McGuire, a spokesman for the county police, told the newspaper via email on Saturday that footage of the earlier encounter had not been released because it was not relevant to the investigation.
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