Prosecutor dismisses new Ferguson surveillance video as edited, "pathetic"

Last Updated Mar 13, 2017 4:51 PM EDT

FERGUSON, Mo. -- The St. Louis County prosecutor says store surveillance footage in a new documentary showing Michael Brown at a Ferguson convenience store hours before his August 2014 shooting death by a police officer was not shown to a grand jury because it wasn’t relevant.

At a news conference Monday afternoon, Robert McCulloch dismissed the video footage from the documentary “Stranger Fruit.” 


Michael Brown and former Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson

The documentary, which premiered Saturday at the South By Southwest festival in Austin, claims the surveillance footage from Ferguson Market & Liquor suggests Brown didn’t rob the store before his death. One of the filmmakers, Jason Pollock, told The New York Times he believes the footage shows Brown trading a small amount of marijuana for a bag of cigarillos around 1 a.m. on Aug. 9, 2014. The video doesn’t clearly show what was exchanged, but shows Brown leaving behind the cigarillos.

Pollock reasons Brown intended to come back later for the bag of cigarillos.

But McCulloch called the video heavily edited and “pathetic” and said it didn’t have anything to do with what occurred at the same store hours later, when he said Brown walked out with the cigarillos.

“It was clearly an attempt to distort this and turn it into something that it isn’t,” McCulloch said of the documentary.

McCulloch said the video wasn’t shown to the grand jury, which declined to indict white officer Darren Wilson in the shooting death of the black 18-year-old, because it wouldn’t have been admissible at trial. He said police reports released after the grand jury’s November 2014 decision described the apparent barter attempt.

“This is not new – all of you had access to it. It’s an attempt to get his 15 minutes, which he got,”  McCulloch said, referring to the filmmaker.

He said the full, unedited version of the video, which he said he would released Monday, shows there was “no transaction.”

Jay Kanzler, attorney for Ferguson Market & Liquor, also said that he wants to disprove claims in the documentary. Kanzler also said no transaction took place, and that Brown stole the cigarillos when he returned to the store about 10 hours later.

“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,” Kanzler told The New York Times.

Monday, Kanzler played the extended video which he said showed Brown took a bag that may have contained marijuana with him when he left the store, and appeared to argue with the store clerks. He called the filmmaker’s claims “a wild story” and said they caused harm to the community, and called for him to apologize.

About 100 protesters gathered outside the store Sunday night. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that seven or eight shots were heard, but no injuries reported. Police arrested some protesters and cleared the scene when the market closed.

Prosecutors on Monday charged a St. Louis man with trying to set a Ferguson police car on fire during the protests.

Police say Henry Stokes, 44, put a napkin in the gas tank opening of the police car and tried to use a lighter to set it aflame, but fled when police saw him.