There are wakes for people who die, and they are given to remember the individual for whom they were. In the instance of Michael Brown, he was a an 18 year old African American who was unarmed at the time of an encounter with police. He was walking in the middle of the street with a friend, and police officer Darren Wilson directed them to get out of the street and was in the process of citing them for jaywalking.
Darren Wilson sustained serious injuries to his face resulting from Michael Brown's resisting the officer. Upon resisting the officer, Darren Wilson fired a shot to stop Brown, and Wilson said that he continued shooting Brown as he feared Wilson’s continuing attack.
The police report says the following, according to vox.com:
“The police account
This is what St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar, who's leading the investigation into Brown's death,said happened according to Wilson: Brown physically assaulted Wilson prior to the shooting. Wilson attempted to get out of the car, but Brown pushed him back into the vehicle. Brown then physically assaulted Wilson and attempted to grab the officer's weapon. At that point, the first shot was fired from the police car. Brown ran away, but eventually turned around and moved toward Wilson — causing the officer to fear for his life. Wilson fired and killed Brown, 35 feet from the police car. Wilson was reportedly injured during the encounter, and one side of his face was left swollen.”
There are other eye witness reports and a witness video that will be used in trial proceedings to verify the facts. From this and many other media reports that are all similar in content, it appears that Michael Brown was involved as a perpetrator in a theft at a carryout prior to the incident. It is disputed as to whether or not officer Wilson had a description of Brown as being a possible suspect in a robbery. Surveillance video from the carryout indicates that Brown intimidated the carryout owner with aggressive behavior.
It is reasonable to conclude that Michael Brown was less than a model citizen and may be described as a local street criminal and bully. It is important to get these facts straight because today there is a community in Missouri remembering the death of Michael Brown. Should he be remembered as an unfortunate young man whose behavior endangered his well being? Should his death be remembered as an instance of overly aggressive police behavior, or police brutality? Should the Michael Brown incident be remembered for lessons to be learned, such as the following:
1. Shoplifting is a misdemeanor
Michael Brown appears to have committed a misdemeanor shoplifting crime.
“For example, shoplifting is generally considered a misdemeanor (petit theft or larceny) if the value of the merchandise is less than $200 - $500. If the value of the stolen goods exceeds $500, it is often considered a felony and a person can be charged with grand theft or grand larceny.”
The store clerk/owner attempted to stop Michael Brown, and the teen overpowered him and fled.
2. Jaywalking is a misdemeanor
Michael Brown was jaywalking in the middle of the street when officer Darren Wilson attempted to charge him after asking him to get out of the street.
Based upon these two documented instances, Michael Brown was not a law abiding innocent citizen. He was antagonizing the community with offensive behavior.
Some people are much accomplished and are remembered for their goodness. Others are less accomplished but are remembered for their humble being. Still, some are less distinguished and may have committed crimes. Should bad behavior be glorified in death? Apparently, the answer in Ferguson, Missouri today is yes.
Now, the facts may not be vetted in court proceedings yet it may be that the police officer used aggressive force. Or he may not have followed procedures for calling for a backup and such. But we do know that Michael Brown’s behavior is not something to be praised, adored, or admired as it was today.
A community is on trial today as the nation watches. Changing many of the nation’s citizens’ attitudes about African Americans in crime riddled cities will be based on whether or not lessons are learned from the situation. Overzealous protesting and overzealous celebration are inconsistent with what should be a humble moment from which to learn and appreciate what has happened.
A teen was lost, and that is a tragedy no matter what his race. Crime in our cities is a tragedy that correlates with root causes. We cannot bring Michael Brown back, but we can prevent more tragedies like his by doing the following:
- Don’t excuse criminal behavior of any kind.
- Ensure that the police force is representative of the community.
- Bring the police force and community together as often as possible to keep communications open.
"Assault & Battery on a Police Officer
If you are accused of assault and battery on a police officer, you are facing felony assault charges, which could include mandatory minimum jail time, if convicted."