At the same time that the Ferguson Police Department was terrorizing its own citizens last night, something interesting and important happened on cable news: Ferguson Police Chief Thomas Jackson reiterated to Sean Hannity that Michael Brown struggled with his killer inside the cop's vehicle, while at the same time two new eyewitnesses told CNN that they saw no such thing.
The above video juxtaposes the crucial moments of each interview, which aired on Fox News and CNN, respectively, within roughly 20 minutes of each other late Wednesday night.
First, Hannity—who, to his credit, grilled the Ferguson police chief over the course of a five minute interview—asked Jackson if he knew "for a fact" that the purported "struggle" between Brown and the policeman who killed him resulted in a shot being fired inside the cop's vehicle. Jackson's response was "It was, yes." Here is a transcript of that moment:
Hannity: You said, in fact, the officer was injured, had a facial wound of some kind, and that, in fact, a struggle ensued over the officer's weapon, and a shot was actually fired inside the car. Why is there such a dramatically different story being told here?
Jackson: Well Sean, unfortunately we're going to have to wait until all the witnesses have been interviewed and all the forensic evidence has been examined before we're going to have a real, true picture of what happened that day.
Hannity: It... well, either a shot was fired inside the police officer's car, or it was not. Do we know for a fact, do you know for a fact—
Jackson: It was, yes.
Hannity: That is a fact, then. So, there was a struggle for the gun—
Jackson: That is a fact.
About 20 minutes later, Tiffany Mitchell and Piaget Crenshaw, two new witnesses to Brown's murder, were interviewed on CNN by Don Lemon and Aliysn Camerota. Lemon and Camerota carefully asked Mitchell and Crenshaw if they saw Brown struggle with the officer inside the car, as Jackson claimed. They responded with affirmative denials.
Camerota: Did you ever see a moment where Michael was in the police car?
Crenshaw: No, ma'am.
Don Lemon: Because that's what police are saying, that they were in the police car and there was a tussle... inside the police car. And at no time—and I know that you weren't there from the very beginning, Piaget or Tiffany—but at no time did you see Michael Brown in the car?
Both: No, not at all.
The assertion by Crenshaw and Mitchell that they witnessed no struggle between Brown and his killer inside the cop's vehicle echoes the initial statement given by Dorian Johnson, the only other witness to speak to the press, who was with Brown from the moment the cop first pulled up until he was murdered. This detail has remained in dispute from the beginning, but last night—as his police force launched tear gas at Ferguson's citizens and arrested journalists—Jackson doubled-down on his side of the story at nearly the exact time that a second and third eyewitness refuted it on national television.
You can see the narratives calcifying here, regardless of what the investigation, now being handled by the St. Louis Police Department, reveals. Ferguson's police will maintain that a round went off in the cop's car because Brown reached for the man's weapon, and thus his death was justified. Multiple witnesses will have faced America and said that, no, the first round went off because the officer had pinned Brown to his car and attempted to shoot him then.
At some point, some people somewhere—a police department or a district attorney's office or a jury—will decide who was right, and if we know one truth here it's that history is not on the side of the witnesses.
[video by Timothy Burke]