First of all, I think its helpful to recognize that there are two separate issues to deal with. First there's the shooting of Michael Brown. Secondly, there's the police response to the protests.
An awful lot of people are assuming we know what happened in the altercation between Michael Brown and Officer Wilson. Those who have been paying attention have heard a couple of eye witness reports and a reported friend of Wilson tell his side of the story on a radio call-in show. I certainly hope that at some point we get a clear picture. But there's a lot that is disputed or unknown right now.
I suspect that its very likely that there was a verbal altercation between the two when Wilson told Brown to get out of the middle of the street. It escalated and at some point Brown walked away. If the autopsy shows that even one of the 6-10 shots fired hit him in the back, it will be nearly impossible to see that as anything other than murder. End.of.story.
The disturbing part of all of this is how the local police handled the shooting:
- Didn't allow CPR on the scene
- Left Brown's body on the street for hours
- Didn't interview any witnesses
- Allowed the officer to leave town
- Withheld the officer's name for 5 days
- Still haven't released the incident report on the shooting or the autopsy results
- Against the advice of DOJ, released a video purporting to show Brown involved in an unarmed robbery and then admitted it had nothing to do with the shooting
Hence the protests. On Friday the Brown family's lawyer confirmed that an autopsy had been performed by both local law enforcement and the family. So someone has answers to the question of whether or not Michael Brown was shot in the back. But they're not telling the public.
All of the concern about the militarization of law enforcement has come as a result of the initial police response to the protests (not the shooting of Michael Brown). Its true that there has been some looting. And its right for people to call that out. But its been by a few and, for the most part, the community has done what they can to stop it. Overall, the situation was only inflamed by the over-response from police to the protesters and their lack of action in dealing with the shooting.
That summarizes what I've been able to suss out about what's been happening. At this point its clear that we can't trust local law enforcement to deal with either the shooting of Michael Brown or handling the protesters. The FBI has been sent in to rectify the former and Capt. Johnson is doing his dead level best to deal with the latter.
But I suspect there are serious power plays going on behind the scenes about all that. And the fact that things haven't clarified yet shows they are likely pretty intense and still in play. Governor Nixon seems to be playing both sides of that isle - which is why things are still muddled.