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Michael Brown was not Trayvon Martin

Footage showing what appears to be Michael Brown robbing convenience store
Footage showing what appears to be Michael Brown robbing convenience store
Convenience store footage/Ferguson PD

Police in Ferguson have released surveillance footage that shows Michael Brown allegedly robbing a convenience store just moments before he was fatally shot by a police officer. This Aug. 18 news report shares the video footage, which draws attention to the possibility that the teen was actually up to no good when he was encountered by the officer who killed him. The footage shows what strongly appears to be Michael Brown in a convenience store not long before his death. In the footage he appears to be leaving the store without paying. When the store clerk tries to stop him, the young man in the video turns on the clerk with a physically threatening stance. The young man then leaves the store. It was just moments after this that Michael Brown was shot to death by a police officer.

These new details draw a line of separation between this case and the shooting death of Trayvon Martin -- even though people are broadly comparing the two high profile cases. It's true that Trayvon was also an unarmed teen when he was gunned down, but he was also not caught on surveillance robbing a convenience store or committing any other crimes. He was walking home with tea and candy that he legally purchased, presumably minding his own business, before George Zimmerman began following him. Michael Brown, on the other hand, appeared to be in the middle of committing a petty crime of theft, and was acting extremely aggressively in the video (if the man in the video is in fact Michael).

Even though Michael Brown was no Trayvon Martin, he did not deserve to be shot dead by a white officer in a town that has a history of racism against the black community (which happens to be the majority in Ferguson). This brand new report shares that the teen was shot at least six times in a scatter pattern, showing that the officer who shot him did so almost recklessly -- and the lack of gunpowder residue on Michael's body indicates that he was not up close to the officer when he was shot (unless his clothing tells a different story, but that's not being released yet). An attorney representing Brown's family said the following about the autopsy report:

"The sheer number of bullets and the way they were scattered all over his body showed this police officer had a brazen disregard for the very people he was supposed to protect in that community. We want to make sure people understand what this case is about: This case is about a police officer executing a young unarmed man in broad daylight."

It's hard not to agree with attorney Benjamin L. Crump, but to play devil's advocate for a moment, it's also easy to believe that the scattered pattern of Michael's gunshot wounds would indicate that the cop was in a panic -- perhaps even fearful for his own well being. That still does not 100% justify the "spray-and-pray" shooting of an unarmed black teen, especially since as a police officer this man should have been trained in taking down a perp through nonviolent means (i.e. pepper spray or tazers).