Michael Brown allegedly committed a “strong arm” robbery at a convenience store minutes before he was fatally shot by a police officer named Darren Wilson, police in Ferguson, Missouri, said Friday morning. The police released footage and still frames from a security camera, showing an individual they said was the slain teenager roughing up a much smaller store clerk.
But is the footage really from August 9, the day that the unarmed Brown was shot and killed by Wilson? Or did the cops carelessly attempt to foist footage from two months ago onto the public, not even bothering to alter the time-stamp on the surveillance camera footage?
The latter conspiracy theory suddenly went viral on Twitter Friday morning, as reported by the political news site Talking Points Memo.
The footage, police say, shows Brown and a friend stealing cigars from the store, and when a clerk confronts Brown, the tall, powerfully built teen gives him a forceful shove. The footage is viewable below, via CBS News.
Numerous Twitter users took a close look at the footage and concluded that in the time stamp the numeral “8” indicating the month of August is actually a “6,” which would mean the footage was shot June 9, not August 9.
— Skye (@skye2earth) August 15, 2014
Ferguson Police Department stole that footage from June 9th 2014 & tried to attach it to the case of Michael Brown. That’s low.
— BratYé (@DiaryofABrat) August 15, 2014
Hey#Ferguson PD – the date stamp on those photos look to show JUNE 9 2014. You care to confirm or deny that?
— Carron LaForce (@carron) August 15, 2014
As TPM noted, some versions of the conspiracy theory postulate that the footage may have been digitally altered.
— Bouazizi (@uhreeb) August 15, 2014
“In TPM’s own review of online postings of the images, it appears that the timestamp could be simply an ‘8’ instead of the ‘6’ that the theory alleges,” reporter Dylan Scott wrote.
However, the possibly definitive refutation of the conspiracy theory came from Freeman Bosley, a lawyer for Dorian Johnson, the friend of Michael Brown who was with the teen when he was shot to death by the police officer.
Bosley says that Johnson has already admitted entering a convenience store earlier Saturday and taking merchandise.
“We see that there’s tape, that they claim they got a tape that shows there was some sort of strong-armed robbery,” Bosley told MSNBC. “We need to see that tape, my client did tell us and told the FBI that they went into the store. He told FBI that [Brown] did take cigarillos. He told that to the DOJ and the St. Louis County Police.”
Brown’s family issued a statement Friday declaring themselves “beyond outraged” by the release of the video footage, saying that nothing in the footage justifies or explains why Michael Brown was killed by police officer Darren Wilson.
“The police strategy of attempting to blame the victim will not divert our attention, from being focused on the autopsy, ballistics report and the trajectory of the bullets that caused Michael’s death and will demonstrate to the world this brutal execution of an unarmed teenager,” the family of Michael Brown said in the statement.