By Daryl Hannah
A nine-second audio recording released Tuesday is the latest piece of information to surface in the shooting death of Michael Brown, the unarmed African-American teenager shot and killed in Ferguson, Mo. by Officer Darren Wilson on Aug. 9.
The recording, which was released to CNN, contains what sounds like at least 10 gunshots that are first fired in repetition and continue after a slight pause. An unidentified man recorded the alleged gunshots while talking to a friend via a video chat in his nearby apartment.
“He was in his apartment talking to a friend in a video chat,” Lupa Blumenthal, an attorney for the unidentified man, told CNN. “He heard loud noises. At the time he didn’t even know the import of what he was hearing until afterwards and happened to capture what happened.”
Blumenthal, who herself says she heard at least 11 shots in the recording, continued saying, “The FBI was in our office interviewing my client. They are doing a thorough investigation and they thought it [the audio clip] would be an important part of their investigation.”
The unauthenticated audio is the latest piece to a puzzle with differing accounts from witnesses and the police. Dorian Johnson, who was with Brown at the time of the shooting, said that officers’ order to ‘get the f onto the sidewalk’ quickly escalated to a physical altercation and then gunfire.
“I could see so vividly what was going on because I was so close,” said Johnson, who said he was within arm’s reach of both Brown and the officer when the first of several shots was fired at the teen.Johnson says he feared for his life as he watched the officer squeezing off shot after shot.
On the other hand, the police maintain that Officer Wilson shot Brown after he shoved the officer and tried to wrestle the officer’s gun from him. That claim has been refuted by a number of witnesses, including Johnson.
For weeks, throngs of people have descended upon Ferguson in solidarity against targeted police violence; particularly toward African-American men, and to demand that the government demilitarize the police.
Last week, Attorney General Eric Holder visited Ferguson to meet with city officials, residents and protestors. In a special message released by the St. Louis Dispatch, Holder said about 40 FBI agents have been assigned to the case, along with prosecutors in the U.S. Attorney’s Office in St. Louis. He also said hundreds of people have already been interviewed and that federal medical examiners have performed an independent autopsy, the third conducted in the killing.
“Our investigation into this matter will be full, it will be fair, and it will be independent,” Holder wrote.
Prosecuting attorney Bob McCulloch estimated that his office could continue presenting evidence to the grand jury through mid-October as he confronts conflicting pressures for speed and thoroughness. Outside McCulloch’s office, a few dozen protesters called for him to be removed from the case and for the immediate arrest of the officer involved in the shooting.
“On one side, people are saying you’re rushing to justice, and on the other side, they’re saying you’re dragging this thing out,” he said at a news conference. “We’re going to present this as expeditiously as possible, but we are not going to present it in a half-hearted manner.”
On Monday Michael Brown’s family, joined by the parents of Trayvon Martin, a cousin of Emmett Till and 4500 mourners, gathered in the Friendly Missionary Baptist Church to say their final goodbyes to Brown as he lay in a coffin.
Lesley McSpadden, Michael Brown’s mother, wiped away tears as she stood at the coffin that holds her son’s body.
She wrote a letter to her son published in the funeral program that said in part, “I never want this to go unsaid, there are no wordsto express how much you mean to me. A son like you, I thought could never be. Because the day you were born, I just know, God sent me a blessing — and that was you.”