A new documentary released this week claims to have video evidence that Michael Brown did not rob a convenience store in the hours before he was fatally shot by a Ferguson, Mo., police officer.
The video shows surveillance footage from the same convenience store the day before the shooting. Brown gives the store employees what appears to be a small bag of weed in exchange for two boxes of cigarillos. He leaves the cigarillos behind the counter and returns the next day to collect them.
When a different store employee refuses to let Brown leave with the cigarillos, Brown shoves him and walks out the door. Police released video from this incident as proof Brown was a suspect in a strong-armed robbery, which is why Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson stopped him on the street.
Jason Pollock, a documentary filmmaker who acquired the new tape, told the New York Times that this video proves Brown never stole anything from the convenience store. He took the cigarillos as part of a pre-arranged drug deal with store employees.
“They destroyed Michael’s character with the tape, and they didn’t show us what actually happened,” Pollock said. “So this shows their intention to make him look bad. And shows suppression of evidence.”
Sgt. Shawn McGuire, a spokesman for the county police, said in an email to the Times that footage of the earlier encounter had not been released because it was not relevant to the investigation.
The store employees also took issue with Pollock’s interpretation of the video.
“There was no transaction,” said Jay Kanzler, a lawyer for the convenience store and its employees. “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.”
While the documentary sheds light on the events leading up to Brown’s death, it does not address what happened during the shooting itself.
Office Darren Wilson was cleared of criminal wrongdoing by a county grand jury and federal civil rights investigators. He claimed he was attacked by Brown and feared for his life, claims which were backed by physical evidence.
Brown’s family still contends the shooting was unprovoked, and they believe police released the video of the alleged robbery to demonize him.
Brown’s parents have filed a federal lawsuit against Officer Wilson, the city of Ferguson and the former Ferguson police chief. A civil trial is scheduled to start next year.