An appeals court is letting a lawsuit by a man who was with Michael Brown when he was shot and killed by police go forward, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported Wednesday.
Dorian Johnson was the man who was with Brown on the day Brown was killed after allegedly attacking Ferguson, Missouri police officer Darren Wilson.
According to the Associated Press, Johnson and Brown were both walking when Officer Wilson blocked their path with his car. After a struggle ensued between Brown and Wilson, Brown was shot and killed, sparking riots throughout the city and country. Johnson, meanwhile, escaped by running away.
In 2015, Johnson sued the city of Ferguson, saying that Wilson “acted with deliberate indifference or reckless disregard” by detaining him, violating his constitutional rights. The suit also claims his detention was part of a pattern of bias and that former Ferguson Police Chief Tom Jackson did not properly supervise officers.
The city had moved to dismiss the lawsuit, which had been moved to federal court, but by a 2-1 ruling, the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals said they would allow the suit to go forward.
Judge Michael Melloy wrote in his opinion that “the law was sufficiently clear” that “a reasonable officer in Officer Wilson’s position would not have shot his gun.”
It’s worth pointing out, of course, that Wilson was cleared by both a St. Louis grand jury and Barack Obama’s Department of Justice (and, in the latter instance, certainly not for want of trying to achieve an opposite result).
It’s also worth pointing out that Johnson — who was known as “Witness 101” throughout much of the investigation — is mostly responsible for the infamous “hands up, don’t shoot” myth that sprang up in the wake of Brown’s shooting.
Even The Washington Post’s Jonathan Capehart, certainly not known as an apologist for police, noted in a March of 2015 op-ed that “the popular hands-up storyline, which isn’t corroborated by ballistic and DNA evidence and multiple witness statements, was perpetuated by Witness 101. In fact, just about everything said to the media by Witness 101, whom we all know as Dorian Johnson, the friend with Brown that day, was not supported by the evidence and other witness statements.”
In his dissent, Justice Roger Wollman said the suit ought to be thrown out and compared Johnson’s flight to that “of a moonshine-carrying” criminal.
Johnson’s lies have already caused plenty of discrete harm in the form of violent unrest and fractious race relations. If anything, he ought to be paying the city of Ferguson. The last thing he should get is a payout for his deceit.
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