Since Michael Brown was shot by Officer Darren Wilson on August 9, reporters have called for the release of the incident report Wilson would have filled out according to proper police procedure. But according to the document released to the ACLU, there is no real report. The incident report the Ferguson Police Department has on file has little more than the who, where and when of the shooting. It doesn't say what happened, it doesn't say how, and it wasn't even reviewed by a supervisor until 10 days after Michael Brown died. The report was given final approval on August 20.
At a press conference last week Ferguson Police Chief Thomas Jackson released an incident report related to the robbery Brown was a suspect in, as well as video of the robbery. At the time, Jackson said that he wanted to hold on to the information but was pushed by transparency request, though media organizations actually wanted details of the shooting. Jackson later said that the robbery was unrelated to the shooting — Brown was stopped for walking in the street. Several people considered the selective release of information to be a character assassination, and Capt. Ron Johnson and Attorney General Eric Holder expressed their own concerns over the selective release of information.
It's clear now that Ferguson police knew then that they didn't have the incident report they were asked to release. MSNBC's Lawrence O'Donnell argued that Jackson essentially admitted there was no incident report last week when he said "we've pretty much given you every bit of information that we have now — I don't think there's anything else that we have to give out."
What's concerning about the lack of a detailed incident report is that there's one less piece of solid evidence in this case. Over the last two weeks there have been several conflicting reports from anonymous sources discussing how Brown died and the extent of Officer Wilson's injuries. A Grand Jury is currently meeting to determine whether or not to bring charges against Wilson. As Jonathan Cohn at The New Republic noted, whether charges are brought against Wilson "will depend on the enthusiasm of the prosecutor bringing the case and the quality of the evidence he can present." One piece of evidence the prosecutor won't have is Wilson's report on what happened.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.
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