The FBI has obtained new audio allegedly recording the exact moment that Darren Wilson began shooting Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. The recording captures at least 11 gunshots, six of which we know hit Brown. Perhaps most devastatingly, it features a notable pause between the first seven and the last four shots. What made Wilson stop shooting? And more importantly, why did he start firing again?
The audio was captured by a witness who happened to have a video chat open with a friend. The microphone picked up the gunshots while he was having an ordinary conversation.
“He was in his apartment, talking to a friend on a video chat,” the resident’s attorney, Lopa Blumenthal, told CNN. “He heard loud noises and at the time, he didn’t even realize the import of what he was hearing until afterwards, and it just happened to have captured 12 seconds of what transpired outside of his building.”
The FBI will now be looking into whether it can independently verify what is being heard on the tape. Should the recording prove to be authentic – and we have no reason to think it shouldn’t be – then it may open up a new series of questions for Officer Darren Wilson to explain.
According to the Ferguson Police Department’s account of what happened, Brown was charging at Wilson and the officer consequently opened fire in fear for his safety. The recording seems to tell a slightly different story. The first seven shots are heard in quick succession. Because given the autopsy report we know only five of the 11 shots fire missed Brown, at least some of those had to have hit the teen. The next four shots came after an definite pause. Whether Brown had originally been charging or running away, it suggests he was no longer a threat. Why else would Wilson stop shooting? The next four shots – likely at least one of those being the fatal shot to the top of the head – came at a much more leisurely pace – hardly what you would expect if the officer’s life was in danger.
Here is CNN’s Don Lemon breaking the story, along with the 12 second audio clip:
The Ferguson resident’s lawyer seemed to come to the same conclusion many others had: The pause is suspect.
“I was very concerned about that pause … because it’s not just the number of gunshots, it’s how they’re fired,” the man’s attorney, Lopa Blumenthal, told CNN’s Don Lemon. “And that has a huge relevance on how this case might finally end up.”
Another attorney told CNN that he was astonished by the new recording.
“It’s the pause that gives most concern in a police shooting, especially with an unarmed victim, because at this point Mr. Brown is defenseless — he has no weapon.”
He might also have mentioned that Brown was also certainly wounded. Again, it is mathematically impossible for Brown not to have been shot at least a few times in the first barrage of bullets. By the time of the pause, Wilson was facing a wounded, unarmed teen. He fired anyway.